Preventing alcohol and other drug use on college campuses is not easy, especially considering this is a complex undertaking with many moving parts. We often forget this task encompasses more than the individual person. Therefore, prevention should be comprehensive and viewed through a bioecological perspective, one where a person’s relationships, environment, policies that govern behavior, and other factors are considerations (Bronfenbrenner, 1977).
Primary prevention practices include sharing foundational information about alcohol and other drugs with the campus community to increase awareness and understanding. In addition to these education efforts, other primary tools include changing policies to reduce access and implementing evidence-based prevention programs. Student leaders and organizations have an opportunity for prevention as well because they can help shape the foundation for incoming students to understand the cultural norms and expectations for healthy behaviors. Student organizations can also be a place where students feel comfortable talking to one another and can be directed to the appropriate resources on campus to get help for early intervention. As knowledge doesn’t equal behavior, behavior modification is challenging, especially as many students may come to campus with unhealed past traumas. Therefore, screening in secondary prevention is helpful to identify those at high risk. Tertiary prevention practices help to re-educate and support students in recovery from alcohol and other drugs.