David Anderson, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Education and Human Development at George Mason University, where he worked for over 28 years and served as Professor and Director, Center for the Advancement of Public Health, is this month's guest on Prevention Profiles: Take Five. During the interview, Dr. Anderson discusses findings of concern from the College Alcohol Survey, a new guide on professional competencies for drug and alcohol misuse prevention in higher education, insights from campus-based professionals working on alcohol and drug misuse issues, and more!
Rich Lucey: Hi, folks, this is Rich Lucey, senior Prevention Program Manager with the Drug Enforcement Administration's Community Outreach and Prevention Support section, and welcome to this episode of Prevention Profiles Take Five. Excited about today's repeat guest, David Anderson. Let me tell you a little bit about David and we'll get into our interview. Dr. David Anderson is Professor Emeritus of Education and Human Development at George Mason University, where he worked for over 28 years. He served as professor and director, Center for the Advancement of Public Health. Prior to that, he served as a college administrator at the Ohio State University, Radford University, and Ohio University. Over his five-decade career, he conducted hundreds of national, state, and local projects while teaching graduate and undergraduate classes. He is an active researcher with decades-long research on college drug and alcohol issues, high school youth, and community efforts. His work emphasizes practical applications for youth and parents, school and community leaders, program planners and policymakers. He lives in Celebration, Florida, where he is active as a community leader in elected and volunteer roles. David, welcome to the podcast.
Dr. David Anderson: Thank you, Rich, thank you for this invitation to be back. And again, the opportunity to share some of my thoughts. I very much appreciate this. It's quite an honor.
Rich Lucey: Absolutely. And I'm sure it's a stroll down memory lane, when you hear your bio being read. As I was reading it, it was a little bit of a stroll down memory lane for me, because as I've said on this podcast many times, I've been now in the field about 32, 33 years. And that's when I first met you, it was at the beginning of my career working in New York state. And so, yeah, we go back a ways.
Dr. David Anderson: I remember, and when you just said five decades, I'm glad you didn't say a half century.
Rich Lucey: Yeah, it sounds -- yeah, it's all in terminology. Well, I'm excited about topics we're going to talk about today. Some is a revisit of things and some is some brand-new information. So I'm excited about that. So let's get right into it. And this is a little bit of a revisit, but kind of new. It's the college alcohol study. So, you and your colleagues have administered the college alcohol study every three years since 1979. And, in fact, this past summer, you highlighted some key findings from the latest study and a view from the field for campusdrugprevention.gov. Which again, I thank you for doing that. While areas of accomplishment certainly exist over many decades, you identified several things that are of significant concern. Can you talk a little bit about those concerns?
Dr. David Anderson: Yeah, thanks. Thanks, Rich. Just a bit of context. We started this college alcohol survey back in 1979. I was in charge of the residence halls. My colleague Andrew Gotaletto was in charge of the Counseling Center at Radford University. And we basically wanted to know, what's happening across the country with our four-year colleges, universities, with public and private, large and small, with alcohol issues? And so we got a sense, we had a four-page survey. Three years later, we said, I wonder if things have changed. And so we did it again, same sampling, added on some questions, we added other drugs, we added tobacco, others. And so we ended up, we've done it 15 times. And so, that's the context of this unfunded, if you will, self-funded, unfunded research. And again, as you highlighted, I wrote it up in the in an article for your website, for your work, making a responsible difference on campus. That's what I called it, because as you said, in the bio, it's all about practical applications.
So, yeah, we gather this. And there's a lot of areas of concern. You know, we saw in the 1980s a lot of growth in policies, and awareness, and strategies. And then it kind of went down, and it went down, and it went down. And so there's some good news, where a lot of the negative consequences associated with alcohol have been reduced. Some have been cut in half. So, that's good news. But I'm very concerned about what's happening, and I'm not sure what's happening until we do the 2024 survey and so forth. But, like, areas to watch, like, the fact that our coordinators, does your campus have a coordinator for your substance prevention efforts? So just a decade ago, that was 92%. Now it's 82%, which means basically, one in five campuses did not have a coordinated effort. Do you offer training for servers? I mean, that's down 10% In just six years. And here's what's doubled in six years, and that's allowing alcohol in our athletic venues. I'm concerned about that. And then something else that has concerned me for a couple of decades, I mean, we asked this question, and then I'll tell you why we asked it. But we said, have you done in the last couple of years a review of your effectiveness, a formal assessment of your effectiveness? You know, that's 42%. That's, the majority are not doing that. And our maximum on that, 20 years ago, was 54%.
Now, why did we ask that question the very first time and in 1994? Well, you know, there was, you know this, there was federal legislation that said, you must, every two years, take a look at your effectiveness of your campus efforts. Whatever you're doing, how effective is it? And you must do it, you must document it, you must store it, cause we might come looking for it. So we didn't ask, are you following the federal law that says you must do this, we just asked, are you doing this? And the maximum, again, was 54%. You know, it's half. So, half of our campuses are not doing this. And it only makes sense to take a look at how effective you are. I mean, we want to do things that are effective, we don't want to do things just to do things. I'm also concerned that, you know, I said the coordination is going down, having a formalized plan [inaudible] designated resources, Rich, you and many of the viewers, many of the listeners know that there are plenty of resources out there, but they're not using them. You know, are you doing a survey? That's going down. Do you have a support group like Al-Anon? You know, that's 1/3, that's 24. That's 1/3 of what it was at its peak. And so support groups are 29%. Those are free. Those are free to offer.
So, you ask about the survey, what concerns me, I think there's a lot of giving up, even though we're making progress. We're making progress in some areas. We're not making progress elsewhere. But so we do see some reductions of alcohol's involvement. But even with reductions, we still have a notable amount of problems associated with alcohol. And I'm not talking about marijuana, I'm talking about, because we don't ask that. But violent behavior's 36%. Sexual assault, 52% is alcohol-involved. So, to your question, what am I concerned about? I'm concerned about us kind of giving up, not giving it the full strength of what we can do. I mean, we're colleges, universities, we should be leading a lot of this knowledge. So, I'm worried about a lot of campuses not taking this seriously.
Rich Lucey: And I am right there with you. And, you know, when I revisited the article that you wrote, which, quite honestly, was just about three, four months ago, this was a recent article. It was over the summer.
Dr. David Anderson: Yeah, yeah. Summer, yeah.
Rich Lucey: And, you know, to reiterate some of the findings that you mentioned, you know, more than half the campuses, they do not have a strategic plan. More than half, as you mentioned, they're not following the federal requirement to conduct a biannual review. And, you know, using materials based in prevention science, a concept we'll revisit, or we'll come to in just a moment, is quite limited. And I don't want this to seem all doom and gloom. But it is disconcerting when I know that, you know, we spend a lot of time and effort trying to get evidence-based, evidence-informed materials out to our schools. I know the landscape has changed significantly, not only the last ten years, but heck, over the last three years because of the pandemic. I mean, we know that that's, but, you know, if we were to give some hopefulness behind this, because again, I didn't want the whole question to only be doom and gloom, but to note the concerns, I think, are really important so listeners hear, you know, what the state is of, you know, around this. What are you might be hopeful, or what are some maybe teachable moments, or some things we can latch on to around these concerns that propel us forward?
Dr. David Anderson: So, a couple of areas of hopefulness. One is, I do think our campus personnel at all levels are starting to get the message. It's a big job. It's a big job. And we know that there's a lot of components to it. I mean, when we started our survey, it was basically, I mean, I'm being simplistic but this was 45 years ago, if we had an awareness week, have a good policy, and have a little bit of survey work, we got it covered. And I think we realized it's much more than that. We're not putting all of our efforts into that yet. Here's a big area of hope, and that's the whole issue of substance use disorder and recovery services and intervention, motivational interviewing. So, we have a lot of evidence that MI, motivational interviewing does work. And we see that broadening to other audiences. It's not just counselors, what can residence life staff, what can police and security do, what can faculty do? I mean, that's the hard one. So my sense is, my sense of hope is we have greater awareness. We have lots and lots of tools with agencies such as the DEA and your efforts with SAMHSA, Substance Use Mental Health and Services Administration, and specifically CSAP, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. We have resources in the nonprofit center.
So we have a lot of tools. Now let's use them. So, when I think about a lot of what we see in the survey, to me, one of the messages with alcohol's involvement going down is that prevention is working. But it's not one bite or two bites. It's a comprehensive systems approach. And that's where we have to step back and organize. And I believe this at the local level, we don't take a plan off a shelf, we may take a product off the shelf and see if it works for our particular unit. SAMHSA has a publication, I don't know the full title right now. But it's about best fit, what best fit, what fits best for your community? So draw upon that, but you have to own it locally. I mean, I'll talk about this later, but Dr. Tom Hall used to be at University of Central Florida now in Orlando, now in Orange County, which is Orlando, Florida. He and I wrote a book just over a year ago about helping campuses think differently in terms of planning their local efforts. So, it's got to be local, it's not going to be one size fits all, everyone's got to do these ten, or 15, or 20-some things. So the sensible, why am I still doing this? I started the prevention in 1975. Why am I still at it? Because I am an optimist. I do have hope. And that's a core message. I'm glad you pulled that out. So, thank you.
Rich Lucey: Yeah, absolutely. And thank you for the hopefulness. Because, you know, as much as the findings are showing that, you know, more than half of campuses do not have a strategic plan, you know, that was the reason that we published prevention with purpose. I mean, there is now a go-to tool that is a, as I admittedly say, I'm proud of, one of the -- I have always said, it's one of the crowning achievements of my career, I will say, is that guide, because it is a cover-to-cover guide book for you. It's right there, not for you to do by yourself, I'm glad you mentioned that, because we've known that for a long time. But, you know, this is a team effort.
Dr. David Anderson: Absolutely.
Rich Lucey: You know, I'm going to move on to our second question, because this brings us to some of your newer work that I've been really fascinated to read about. So, you recently prepared a guide to eight professional competencies for drug and alcohol misuse prevention in higher education. Why was it important for you to prepare this guide now? And who do you consider to be the primary audience?
Dr. David Anderson: And that's, you're talking about crowning achievements, I have several, but yeah, this most recent one is amazing. So I got a call less than two years ago. It was like, can we pull together, you know, what are the skills that are needed for a campus drug, alcohol professional, what is needed? And so I went to about probably 20 different documents, you know, the CAS standards, and ACPA, and NASPA's guidelines, and the American College Health guidelines, and all sorts of different resources, SAMHSA, DEA, prevention with purpose, and said, you know, what are the important skills, what are the competencies that someone needs? And I ended up with 12 different categories and 864 skillsets? Yeah, they were, they overlap.
Rich Lucey: I'm picturing a lot of Post-It notes, just so you know. I'm picturing a lot of Post-It notes on the wall.
Dr. David Anderson: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, so it was a mammoth. So, then at the end, so a year ago, then the question was, well, how would we bring this to fruition? How do we implement it? And I said, I need help. And I said, I need an advisory group. I got a group of experts with long-term experience, from Virginia to California, names that people would recognize, and they're available. And so, we worked together and we distilled it, we ended up with eight competence areas. And so part of the title of this is instructive. And there's a three-letter word in the title that is essential. It's the guide to the eight professional competencies for higher education substance misuse prevention. The guide to the eight, the, T, H, E, eight, because we said, here is where we are today, in 2022, these are the eight, you need them all, we don't think you need more within these eight.
Now, we organized within each of those eight, we organized with the ultimate thing that you said at the beginning, they all have an issue of practical applications. So, all of those eight, within them are between seven and ten applications. So here's how we do one of them, is strategic planning. One is prevention science. One is needs assessment, evaluation and research. So we have the applications, and then feeding into the applications, meaning what you're doing on the campus, are knowledge and skills. So within each of those, we have competencies, you know? And just if you think about that, we ended up with, again, these eight different areas in these, again, organized by knowledge, skills, feeding into applications. We also, in this guide, for each of those eight areas, linked to resources. And the URLs are there or the publication information. And then separately, we have national organizations, we have data sources, we have listservs, we have other federal agencies, multiple federal agencies, and then divisions there with URLs where someone can go for more information.
So why was, your question was, you know, what was this all about, and why was it important to prepare this? Well, twofold, you know, all too often, and I think that's what, the funder on this was, I need to give credit, to the Mid America PTTC, Prevention Technology Transfer Center. So that's the Mid-American, there's over a half-dozen of these around the country, and they're funded by SAMHSA, Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration. So, they funded this and said, we know that this will be public domain, it can be shared across the nation. It's not just for our four states. So we get that. And so, when we did this, it was like, to put in one place, what are those skills? How do we organize those skills? How do we put them all together in some meaningful way? Not 864 different skillsets, or the different knowledge and skills and applications. But how do you organize that?
And then to help those who are not in the trenches, who are not the campus coordinators, to help their bosses, who often don't understand the complexities and the breadth of what it is to do campus prevention, and then the presidents, and chancellors, and then state officials, and national officials, help them understand all the skills and all the competencies that are needed to do an effective job. We know that this is dated 2022. It's the best knowledge we have today. But it's going to be a little different tomorrow. I mean, in five years, we're going to say, oh, it's the nine professional competencies, or the seven. So that's why we did it. And I need to say that it's easy to find at www.preventioncompetencies.org, www.preventioncompetencies, plural, .org. You can go to the Mid-America PTTC site, and that's a convoluted one as most of those are. Once you find where it is on their site, but at preventioncompetencies.org and since it's a public domain document, others may host it there, you may host it. Department of Ed may host it, a nonprofit may host it, something called COHESAP, which is an association of 20 college associations may host it.
So we're trying to spread the word on that. And again, it's to put it in one place and then to help give a, if you will, a roadmap. A state association may say, we're going to do a webinar on the third competency, or we're going to highlight funding for the sixth competency, or it may be the federal government, or a state government may say, we want, we believe in campus prevention. This goes to the sense of hope, Rich. When the biannual review and Part 86, and Drug Free Communities and Campuses Act came out decades ago, that was based in good intent to help campuses, to help push campuses to do a good job. Honoring, yes, it can be locally appropriate. And so maybe there's a refreshment on that that says, it's not just what you're doing, but you need competence to be able to pull that off. And so honor this, honor some of these competencies, and again, built with a knowledge of myself and five others, you know, we're rolling, we just started rolling it out two weeks ago with a presentation to COHESAP and several coming up. But that's the essence of it.
Rich Lucey: Well, let me tell you, I already discussed this with you. But I'll let our listeners know, we do intend to post a copy of the guide on campusdrugprevention.gov. So, you know, it'll be obviously there for easy access as well. One thing I really like about the layout of the guide, and you mentioned it a little bit ago, was that for each competency, you break it down to the, you know, into knowledge and skills. And I liked that part of, you know, for this competency, here's what you need to know. There's the know part of it. But then there's the, here's what's needed to put it into action. There are those two things that obviously complement each other. But I like how you did that for each competency.
Dr. David Anderson: Yeah. And then the other thing to say is when we did the little framework on it, and I mean the booklet itself, it's a downloadable PDF with interactive links. And it's like 72 pages, but the first 20 is like, you know, where'd this come from? How do you use it, who are potential audiences? But we have the graphic there that shows the eight competencies, kind of in a circle, right in the middle, is our three key words, health enhancing environment. And we mean health broadly. And I know that you do, and DEA does also, with your mission, it's not just your physical health, but it's your interpersonal health, it's your intellectual health, your financial health, so we want the campus environment to be one that helps students as well as faculty, and staff, and guests to thrive, to be productive, to do what they're designed to do in their mission statement.
So, it's all about health enhancing environment, and all of those, from prevention science, to leadership, to communication. So, you know, you can say, oh, leadership, I can read about that in another book, I can read that in my management books, or evaluation, I can read that elsewhere, or communication. So what's unique about this is we said, the higher education setting, the college or university setting is unique. And drugs and alcohol have unique flavors that are different from a lot of other public health issues. So we need something in the skill sets specific for drugs and alcohol, or the drug and alcohol issue.
Rich Lucey: Yeah, it's quite, not unlike when we developed prevention with purpose, people could read about the SPF, the Strategic Prevention Framework, elsewhere. There's plenty of resources out there about the SPF, it's been out there for more than quarter of a century. What didn't exist was aligning the SPF with campus efforts. That was the groundbreaking piece of, you know, [inaudible]. I want to move on to another question, continuing to talk about the competencies. So I know that they're not ranked in any order of priority, but you do lay them out in a general sequence.
Dr. David Anderson: Right, we do.
Rich Lucey: Prevention science being first, which I was very happy to see. How did you and the group arrive at prevention science being first in that sequence of eight?
Dr. David Anderson: Yeah, again, prevention science, because all of this revolves, I alluded to just a moment ago, it's because the drug and alcohol issue is different than other public health issues. And because the higher education setting is different. So, I mean, you know, we want to look at what is it that we know from the science side of prevention, where there's a lot of evidence that strands of prevention work. There's a lot of other evidence that says things that people do that they call prevention may not be based in science, and duh, they don't work so well. You know, the crashed car sitting on campus with just that's all that's done, or an awareness flyer or brochure. So it's really looking at evidence, when we think of prevention science, and we discuss this a lot. So what is it [that] makes prevention science so different than just, why don't we just call it, well, we got this category called needs assessment, evaluation and research. Isn't that enough? We said no, we have to start with prevention science. Part of that also with the prevention science is engaging our students, engaging our audiences, addressing risk and protective factors. We don't talk about that a lot in other settings.
Talk about some of the population approaches as well as some of our sub-populations or, if you will, selective prevention. And part of that, we looked at also ethics, and want to make sure we have ethical approaches. And prevention science is also based on local data. And I've stressed that. So, prevention science also has theories that we're talking about, you know, and being comprehensive and distinguishing between prevention and what you're promoting, looking really specifically at the Institute of Medicines model, you know, and the whole prevention, universal, selective, and indicated. So, to me, we started there, and then we found something that is pretty non-traditional. It's pretty non-traditional. And in fact, I should say that this is where the DEA website was ten years ago, it was the good information about drugs and alcohol. The go-to place [for] good information about drugs and alcohol is DEA, and it still is. DEA website now has much more than the information, okay?
So it's important that someone working on a campus, whether they're full time, or they're an affiliate, or they're working 10%, that they understand how drugs work on the body, how they're working on the developing brain. And then also how substance use disorder can happen with many, many folks, you know? What is this disease piece? But then we look at strategic planning, needs assessment, evaluation and research, program management, policy and environmental strategies. And then if I said earlier, leadership and communication, and those seem to be pretty sequential in our thinking. But all too often we find that the content, if you will, the second item, drugs and alcohol, isn't attended to. But it's critical, you know, a lot of the basic facts, not all that, not everything you need to know, but some basic facts about that, and then feeding it back into prevention science with risk and protective factors.
Rich Lucey: So I ask you this next question, because it weighs on my mind frequently. It's concerning to me. I've had conversations about it with plenty of our mutual colleagues, one of whom is Joan Masters, I call Joan out because I love having these conversations with her. I love her insight. I also know she was a member of your group and developing these competencies.
Dr. David Anderson: Yes.
Rich Lucey: So around prevention science, another mutual colleague of ours, but I've said on more than one occasion, my mentor Fran Harding, one of her mantras was to know your craft. And when she was saying that, she was talking about prevention science. What advice do you have for prevention professionals who might recognize the need to stay current on prevention science, but they'll claim they don't have the time to do so?
Dr. David Anderson: Yeah, you have to make the time. You know, when I was working full-time, I don't have time to work out, but I have to work out. I don't have time to sleep, but I have to sleep. You know, we have to invest and put, so a couple of pieces of advice. Put it in bite-sized pieces. I have a colleague who, with a book that Tom Hall I came out with, published by NASPA a year and a half ago, who says I'm reading a couple pages a day, I can't read all 300 or 400 pages at once. But I'm reading it to ground me, to keep me focused, to keep me centered. There's a state now, Pennsylvania, that has taken that book and they're doing a book club, a chapter every time that book club meets, once a month, or every other month. So take a chapter and dissect it. Because it's all about how do you apply it. So, make it bite-sized pieces. You know, in my earliest days in prevention, and working with Andrew Gotaletto letter at Radford, we had a little group on campus, this is the late '70s when Bacchus was being founded at the University of Florida and then national. We had a little group, and it was like our little support group. And we would talk about how do we help change the campus on the culture to be more caring, more health-promoting?
And so we had our little advisory group, but that was kind of like a lunch support group once a month. So, you'll find your safe space, your support network. But the other thing I think is important is in small pieces, try to get your supervisor, your boss, and ideally their boss, to be supportive and understanding. You know, I'd like to go to this conference. I'd like to have a little bit of time, can I carve out 5% of my job responsibilities to be doing some of this? I'm not going to lead the campus prevention work, but I can be part of it, or someone who's leading it. I need help leading the campus effort. And we need, you know, Madam Vice President, Madam Provost, Mr. President, whatever, we need your help getting others involved. We need some institutional support mechanisms so that faculty feel supported. Maybe it's a class buyout so that they're spending time, they're feeling supported in contributing their expertise to the campus effort. So maybe they're spending their time doing the evaluation piece, and that's 25% of their job responsibilities. So, the coordinator, I think one of the faults with coordinators, you mentioned Joan, whether it's Suzy Bruce, who was also on our group at UVA, I mean, when I started 40 years ago as a coordinator, I was the one who did it all. And I left a full-time job to take a grad assistant, created the Alcohol Drug Resource Center and that initiative at Virginia Tech, you know, 20,000 students, a half-time person. Rich, I didn't know how to work half-time. I mean, I was getting paid $5,000 a year. Yeah, it was what, 2000 -- I mean, no, it was 1981. But I didn't know how to work half-time, and I needed to work half-time and then get others involved.
So we can't take it all on ourselves, we have to step back for our own mental health, taking care of ourselves, identify who could be some patrons, who could be some advocates, who can be some supporters, who can be some of the doers, the content people? You know, like a communications professor on communications, public health, marketing, classically over what, the marketing and advertising faculty. You know, tie in the theater group into helping do improv stuff. I mean, there's so much that can be done, but you just help orchestrate it. So, you have to take the time. To say I don't have the time is a setup for burnout, and then you're going to leave. I mean, if you have the heart, stay with it, but think smarter and get others involved, and then get your boss to buy it. So, again, with these competencies, do you have to be competent in all of these? That's impossible. But as you're putting your team together, and we talk about this, as you put a team together, it's like, oh, I know that needs assessment, evaluation support, I know strategic planning is important, who can help lead that? And ideally, you start, you try to boost yourself in all of these, but you can never get perfect, because again, science is going to change. And we're going to get some new evaluation methods, and new prevention science and so forth. And then the drugs are going to change. So, we got to get up to date on that.
Rich Lucey: Yeah. You know, I'm going to channel Joan again, and a full attribution to Joan, because you said, you know, bite-sized pieces.
Dr. David Anderson: She's marvelous. She's marvelous.
Rich Lucey: Yeah, you talk about bite sized pieces, you know, the conversation that stemmed out of it with her was talking about how daunting strategic planning may seem, and I get it, you know, from, you know, step one of the SPF with assessment right on through the evaluation. Yeah, any part of, any or all of that is daunting. And she talks about doing it incrementally, knowing that when you do it incrementally, then it doesn't feel as, you know, as daunting.
Dr. David Anderson: Absolutely. So, Rich, to that point, when I was working on my doctorate I guess 40 years ago, one of my advisors says, David, there's two kinds of dissertations. A good one, and a done one. And I disagreed with him. I said, Well, I want mine to be good too. But the point is, that's why a lot of people give up, they don't persevere, and so it's never going to be perfect. It's never going to be perfect. It is daunting, it is overwhelming, but bite-size, and then see who can help, and who can help and have that specialty? And then who can help support you on your journey? Those may be different people and different -- and that's fine.
Rich Lucey: Well, if it's a tip that helps anybody listening, it's helped me as I do this incrementally, and that's to set a meeting with yourself and resist the urge to cancel the meeting. But put a meeting on your calendar, half an hour, an hour, and use that time to say, you know what, in that one hour, I'm going to read two journal articles. I'm going to read a book chapter, you know? It's like, just once a week, set the time aside and next thing you know, you'll be honing your craft without even thinking about it.
Dr. David Anderson: Absolutely. Like when I mentioned that, you know, we have all these listservs and other agencies, you know, subscribe to them, and maybe part of that half hour is I'm going to look at the latest from this listserv, you know, from this one or that one, I'm going to look at what their findings are. You can't know it all. I had a doctoral professor who said, if you finished all the readings for today, I didn't give you enough. That's, literally he said that. If you finished everything for today, I didn't give you enough. He's like, you got to learn how to manage, you know, the knowledge, and particularly the internet, and constantly changing knowledge. And then with misinformation and people downgrading, you know, oh, that drug isn't that bad? Or, you know, here's how I did it in college 40 years ago. Yeah. No, let's stay current, stay current with the latest information and trusted sources.
Rich Lucey: Right. So segueing to the fourth question I had prepared for you. And we've alluded to it slightly early on. And it's a theme kind of throughout your recent books, but you gather perspectives held by campus-based professionals. And maybe not people who actually are working on campus because, you know, full disclosure, I helped contribute a very small piece to one of those books, never worked on a campus. But, you know, people who work on these issues, alcohol and drug misuse among college students, what are one or two insights from these folks that you consistently hear?
Dr. David Anderson: Yeah, so just, again, quick context. This first book I did called Leadership in Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention*, again, more for community leaders, state leaders, national leaders, but as well as campus, it came from a talk I was at, I was up at Rutgers University in their summer school addiction studies about ten years ago. And the speaker said, let me tell you a story about Bill W. And he told it. Let me tell you a story about Dr. Jellinek, who wrote the disease concept of alcoholism, a century ago. And he says, I can tell these stories, because I was there, but who's going to tell the stories when I'm gone? And I thought to myself, oh, my God, I need to capture some of the wisdom of these folks who were, again, many were not campus-based. I mean, one was a national leader, you know, at a federal agency, and another was a national, at another federal agency. People who were in law enforcement, who were in research, who were in campuses, communities, all that stuff. And so I got all that. And then I got this all organized. And so again, there were 30 of those, and I added another 46 specialists in that first book. And then the more recent book with Dr. Hall**, we had 55 essays from case studies, lessons learned, and lessons from the field and innovators. And thank you for your contributions with each of those volumes, Rich, but [inaudible] And so, one of the people interviewed said this, your voice matters, and so does your silence. You need to speak up. You carry a disproportionate weight in shaping perception and public conversation. And it's critical that you speak up. You need to speak up for what you are for, not just what you're against. So, it's a matter of following your heart and persevering.
And then another one is continuing to learn. The field keeps evolving. And as you continue to learn, that's a matter of looking at good research and how that dovetails with practice. You're talking about early on, practical applications. So continue to learn. That's important. Again, one of the people I interviewed, again, I'm glad I have her voice. But she died three years ago. And she said, I thought that law enforcement was the answer. Then I thought education was the answer. And then I worked on both of those two huge policy projects and I thought policy was the answer. Then I worked on parents stuff. And I thought parents were the answer. And you know what, it's all of them, with a lot of luck. And I'd add to that, with a lot of luck. And now we have even more science, and we have better protocols and planning tools. But it's all of those things. So it's continuing to learn, stay current. As we continue to learn, we want to reach whomever we're trying to reach. But them as an audience changes. So we have to change our ways of engaging, I mean, the whole Gen Z, we have to engage them differently than generations before them.
And so, it's working with them, continuing to learn. So persevering, and continuing to learn as we blend our current research, current research and practice. One other quote that ties in to that, that continuing to learn, people sometimes don't want to be willing to pay attention to evaluation findings in emerging data and emerging evidence. So, let's look at those evaluation findings. And if we find that something's not working, we either need to modify it, or throw it out. If it's not working for our intended purposes, whatever our purpose is, if our purpose is around attitudes about drugs, or experimentation with, or resistance skills, whatever our aim is, have strategies that work the best we know how with that audience.
Rich Lucey: Those are just some great takeaways there for our listeners, because I think they're universal and applicable, regardless of the issue that you're working on. So, as we draw to a close here, I'm probably going to ask you the most challenging question that I have. And that is, if you can, what is one piece of advice that you have for our listeners who want to make a difference in preventing alcohol and drug misuse among college students? And maybe you have two pieces of advice, but what's your advice?
Dr. David Anderson: No, that's fair. Yeah, but this is not a surprise. I mean, I've thought about this. And to me, it's a matter of perseverance, persevere, maintain -- you asked this early on, you didn't know what my answers were. But you asked about optimism and hope, persevere. My advice, persevere, maintain optimism and hope, work -- and within that, work smart, we talked about that, work smart, you don't have to do it all. Be political, be political. So, thinking about, is this the right time to introduce this or that? Ground yourself, have good data, have local data. And if you don't have it, find ways to gather that. But a part of that optimism is, prevention works. I fully believe that prevention works. Is it a guarantee, is it a panacea? No. But to coin a phrase, prevention works if you work it, but you got to work it. And we got to think scientifically. And again, in thinking about that, I went looking back in that original book from three years ago. And one of the people I interviewed said this, don't have so much self-doubt, take a deep breath, and trust yourself. Look for mentors.
So that's all part of it. So, Rich, it goes back to early on in my career, I want to say I was ten years into it, and I was asked to do some talk or workshop. And I wanted to do, I wanted to say, you know, say, here are the elements of a comprehensive program. And so I, you know, I came up, you know, with policies, and peer engagement, and research, and support, you know, whatever it was, and then I was preparing my hand, and I went, oh, no, no, I can't do this, I can't do this. So I had a lot of self-doubt. I was ten years doing this already, and I had self-doubt. And I was probably in the top 10% of the length of time with people doing campus prevention at that point. And so I said, I can't do this, because I'll put it out. It'll have my name on it. And then someone will say, well, how about number 11? You missed one. So I had self-doubt. But I said, you know, forget that. Forget that, I've got to put it out. If someone comes up with 11, great. That'll be the updated version, or the 12 or 13, or [inaudible] But don't have so much self-doubt. So again, the one key thing, persevere, maintain optimism and hope.
Rich Lucey: Oh, those, as I've been writing notes throughout the entire interview, I got kind of underlined those two, because I think those are great pieces of advice for our listeners. Because in this field, we know, in this field, which often is under a microscope a lot of times to prove its effectiveness. As you've said, we've got the data to show that it works.
Dr. David Anderson: And we can do better, Rich, we can do better.
Rich Lucey: Sure, sure.
Dr. David Anderson: We have the skillset to do better. We can do much better evaluation, we can do much better strategic planning, where there's the will, where there's the organizational will, where there's the societal will, there are the ways, and that's all part of sticking with it. You know, I'm going to keep at this as long as I can. As long as my brain works, my body works, as long as I feel, and others tell me that I'm still current.
Rich Lucey: Yeah. Well, I think you've said it, we can always do better, but we can't, if we don't persevere.
Dr. David Anderson: Absolutely. If we don't persevere, we got nothing,
Rich Lucey: Right. Absolutely. So, David, thank you again so much for being on the podcast. As I expected, so much for our listeners to unpack. I encourage people, either at the website that you mentioned, which will all be included in the show notes, but wherever you get a copy of the guide, to read about the eight competencies. The eight for now.
Dr. David Anderson: The eight for now.
Rich Lucey: Yeah. That's right. That's right.
Dr. David Anderson: Who knows? Who knows? We've got to go with science. Go with science.
Rich Lucey: Right. Right. Yeah, well, I definitely encourage folks to take a look at the guide. Become familiar with the competencies, and the skills, and the knowledge that go with each of those. And again, David, I look forward to continuing collaboration and connection with you as our careers continue.
Dr. David Anderson: Absolutely. Thank you. Thank you. And continued good wishes to you and your leadership, and all the good work that you and your colleagues in DEA are doing. So thank you.
Rich Lucey: Thank you, David, and to our listeners, of course, I certainly appreciate you tuning in to this and all of our episodes in the Prevention Profiles Take Five series. With that, I'm going to wish all of you to have a good day.
Dr. David Anderson: Thank you, Rich.
*Anderson, D. S. (2019) Leadership in drug and alcohol abuse prevention: Insights from long-term advocates. New York: Routledge Publishers.
**Anderson, D. S. and Hall, T. V. (2021) Leading campus drug and alcohol abuse prevention: Grounded approaches for student impact. Washington, D.C.: NASPA Publications