Theory and Applications of Alcohol and Drug Education as a Means of Primary Prevention on the College Campus
SUMMARY. In the past, programs developed to prevent the consequences of alcohol and other drug use on the college campus have been hindered by a lack of theoretical orientation or consensus on goals. As a result, some of the educational judgements made in the development of campus prevention programs have been shown to be flawed. Although the current alcohol and drug education initiatives being sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education explicitly call for a focus on education as a means of primary prevention, this paper argues that such educational programs must be broad in scope and should be based on appropriate theoretical models. The Health Belief Model is presented as a useful theoretical construct for the development of college alcohol and drug abuse prevention programs. According to this model individuals engage in behaviors to avoid a health problem if they first believe that they are personally susceptible to the problem, that the problem can be severe, and that there are acceptable behavioral options available which will help reduce their susceptibility or the potential severity of the problem. These principles also affect institutional or social health policy changes. The author suggests that the growth in the level of attention given to alcohol and drug issues in higher education in recent years can be explained in terms of the Health Belief Model. While in the
past much of the attention given to alcohol and drug issues on campus was characterized by the perception that alcohol and drug education was needed but unaffordable. It is now apparent that this perception has changed, largely due to legal reasons, to one where alcohol and drug education is increasingly seen as something the colleges can't afford to be without.