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Effective campus-based alcohol and drug misuse prevention requires a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach involving key campus and community stakeholders.

The Key Elements of Effective Prevention

The key elements of effective prevention include: needs assessment, strategic planning, implementation, and evaluation. The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery advocates for cultural or “environmental” changes that prevent or reduce substance misuse among college students and supports a healthy living and learning environment.effective-prevention

These steps are instrumental in understanding local problems and determining readiness for change; undergoing a strategic planning process to set goals and activities that are informed by current prevention research; building and sustaining partnerships and coalitions; and continuously evaluating prevention efforts and making adjustments, if necessary.


  1. The underage and excessive use of alcohol causes the most widespread public health and safety problems among college students.

  2. On average, it takes 17 years to translate the findings of research into real-life interventions. One of HECAOD’s missions is to reduce the “bench to bedside” timeframe by reducing barriers and encouraging collaborations.

  3. Statistics indicate that drinking by college students aged 18 to 24 contributes to an estimated 1,825 student deaths, 599,000 injuries, 696,000 assaults by another student who has been drinking, and 97,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year.

The Higher Education Center is taking evidence-based tools and resources and making them adaptable, adoptable and sustainable for your campus to prevent alcohol misuse.

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Rx Medications

  1. The nonmedical use of prescription drugs is second only to marijuana as the most misused illicit drug among Americans age 12 and older (SAMHSA).

  2. The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy partnered with Cardinal Health to develop the Generation Rx Initiative, which provides resources to help prevent the misuse of prescription medications. Generation Rx University provides materials prepared by college students for college students.

  3. In 2013, nearly 11% of college students indicated some Adderall, a prescription stimulant used to treat ADHD, use without medical supervision in the prior 12 months (Monitoring the Future).

Prevention of prescription drug misuse on college campuses can be daunting. HECAOD and Generation Rx offer a plethora of resources to help you recognize your campuses’ specific needs and implement tailored programs.

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  1. Marijuana (Cannabis Sativa) is the most commonly used drug other than alcohol on college campuses.

  2. More than 20 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing marijuana to be used for a variety of medical conditions, although medical marijuana use has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and continues to be illegal under Federal law.

  3. The last decade has seen relatively stable use with rates holding between about 30-35% of students reporting past year use.

The use of marijuana by students poses special challenges for campuses. Find out more about how HECAOD can help your campus effectively prevent misuse of marijuana.

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Other Drugs

  1. More than one third of college students (39%) have used an illicit drug in the past year and more than one in five (22.5%) have used in the past month.

  2. The most common illicit drugs used by college students are marijuana, amphetamines, and narcotics.

  3. 3,952 fatally injured drivers nationwide tested positive for drugs, with narcotics and cannabinoids accounting for almost one half of all positive results.

Illicit drug use has been on the rise since 2006 on college campuses. Find out how your campus can be prepared with adequate prevention programs.

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Get Our Help

The Higher Education Center provides resources and skills for campus professionals to learn more about model programs and best practices for effective substance misuse prevention.

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