The use of alcohol and other substances among college students presents a pervasive and perennial public health challenge. At the most serious level, it has been estimated that excessive drinking contributes to approximately 1,800 deaths and nearly 600,000 injuries among college students each year. The economic costs are also quite high with an annual estimated emergency room cost of $500,000 per campus of 40,000 students. Vandalism, community disturbances, physical assaults and sexual assaults are also strongly related to college student substance use.
Despite strong efforts, excessive alcohol and substance use have not diminished in the past decade, in part because many colleges are not aware of or have not implemented effective intervention strategies. As a result, there is a pressing need for a more active and ongoing dialogue among researchers, practitioners and administrators regarding the current state of knowledge about college student drinking and substance use. Initiating such a dialogue was the goal of this Conversation in the Disciplines, “The Challenge of Reducing College Student Substance Use.”
In addition to providing up-to-date information regarding the prevalence and nature of substance use problems among college students, and current evidence regarding prevention and intervention strategies, this conference provided an opportunity for participants to present information about their programs and to discuss issues and obstacles to the implementation of effective programs. The conference also facilitated exploration of the potential for developing a multi-campus network of researchers and practitioners to address this issue within New York State.