By Patricia DiGiacomo, EdD, MSN via

Patricia DiGiacomo, EdD, MSN
Susan E. Gresko, MSN
Department of Nursing, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Harmful drinking on college campuses is a public health concern and has a huge impact on a student’s academic and social experience. Drinking at college has become a ritual that students see as an important part of their college experience. According to a national survey, (SAMHSA, 2014), 60% of college students between 18-22 drank alcohol in the last month and two out of three of them binge drank. Consequences of excessive drinking include death, assault, sexual assault, and poor academic performance (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2015). Other consequences of binge drinking include suicide attempts, unsafe sex practices, and involvement with the police.A mother who lost her college age son to alcohol poisoning, created an initiative to increase awareness and educate students of the signs of alcohol poisoning and the medical amnesty law and to assist in preventing a future death related to this incident. Nursing faculty members and student leaders joined the community member in leading a multidisciplinary team to work together to provide a culture at the university to call for help when a student shows signs of alcohol poisoning.

The Don’t Stall Initiative began in the Nursing Department with a four year assembly and the community member who lost her son was our guest speaker who shares a personal story with a powerful video. Student feedback related to the Don’t Stall Just Call Program has been outstanding. For example, “My name is _______. Recently, I’ve been having some concerns with the organization I am involved in and the way others in my organization are abusing alcohol. This presentation last semester had a huge impact on me and I think it might open the eyes of the girls in my organization. I was really hoping by reaching out to you, that I could get a direct contact to your guest speaker so she could come and speak to my organization!” Posters, magnets, and wallet size cards are distributed at this assembly to increase awareness. Since this initiative, there has been an increase of calls placed by students whose friend needs help.

The greatest chance for creating a safer campus is a combination of individual support and the culture of the environment and work together to increase the positive effects. Strong leadership in the administration, an involved community, and a comprehensive program can assist in addressing the harmful effects of binge drinking.