College programs for alcohol abuse vary

by Elizabeth Cook

Depending on which Twin Cities-area college or university students attend, they will find a variety of approaches to alcohol-abuse treatment and education.

The University has resources for students who are drinking, who want more information about alcohol or who need legal advice because of alcohol-related offenses.

But not all colleges have programs as extensive as the University, because of their smaller size.

The Universityís closest neighbor, Augsburg College, takes a similar approach to the University by having chemical assessments with a psychologist for students who think they have a problem or if they have had alcohol-related offenses at the college, said Diane Detloff, administrative assistant for the counseling and health promotion department at Augsburg.

After an assessment, itís determined whether a student should go elsewhere for treatment or be put into the Step-UP Program, a program for students in recovery, Detloff said.

As part of the program, there are sober housing options for participants, Detloff said.

Alcohol education is also part of orientation for all students. Throughout the year there are also health fairs where students are given the opportunity to wear ìfatal vision,” or ìdrunk goggles” and learn about drinking.

At Augsburg College, there is also a fine system for students caught drinking in the residence halls.

The first incident calls for a $50 fine, a paper for reflection and taking part in the Choices Education Program. The second time, itís a $100 fine, a chemical dependency assessment, possible social probation, possible eviction and the studentís parents are notified. The third time includes these sanctions along with a $150 fine and the possibility of suspension or expulsion.

Concordia University in St. Paul has its own systems for dealing with alcohol issues.

If students are concerned about their drinking, they can come to the counseling center and use E-Chug, an online questionnaire, to determine if their drinking is a problem, said Cher Rafftery, the director of the health and wellness center.

From there, information about local Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or a recommendation for a formal chemical assessment can be given, Rafftery said.

There are no resources for inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation, but, Rafftery said, ìthereís so many in the Twin Cities, it doesnít seem necessary (to have any here).”

St. Thomas
At the University of St. Thomas there is a counseling center for anyone who wants to get therapy, said Dr. Jeri Rockett, the director of personal counseling.

There, a student can get a free alcohol assessment.

There also are alcohol screening days when students can answer questions about their drinking, get informational brochures on alcohol and watch educational videos, Rockett said.

Similar to Augsburg, there are a couple of sober floors in the residence halls. But these arenít necessarily for students in recovery, Rockett said.

Also, all students are required to take a physical education class and learn about alcohol.

In addition, there are Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, as well as Al-Anon meetings, which are group meetings for families and friends of alcoholics, on campus.

Hamline University has programs, but not as many as some colleges because of its smaller size and lack of resources, said Barb Bester, the interim director of counseling and health services.

At Hamline, students can talk to counselors about their concerns with drinking, but there are no alcohol assessments done on campus.

Brochures about alcohol are available on campus, along with programming in the residence halls dealing with alcohol awareness, Bester said.

Hamlineís policy does allow drinking in the residence halls if the student is 21, Bester said.

If an underage student is caught drinking in the residence halls, the first time results in a formal warning and educational programming; the second incident results in a probation level in which parents are notified and assessments are recommended, said Patti Klein, director of residential life and dean of students.

Traci Toomey, director of the alcohol epidemiology program and an associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, said itís important that students have services that are easy for them to find.

Toomey also said itís important that students who have dependency issues are not the only ones looked at.

ìWe need to look at the entire population who are drinking,” she said.

Even if a student drinks only once a week, if itís high-risk drinking, it needs to be looked at, she said.

ìWe need to make sure the alcohol is consumed in a safe way.”