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What MIT has done to tackle alcohol abuse

  • Multiple agencies sponsor alcohol training and educational programs, including the office for Community Development and Substance Abuse programs, the Student Life Programs office, Medlinks student peer prevention program, the MIT Police, and the Health Education Office at MIT Medical.
  • MIT co-founded the Campus Alcohol Advisory Board and serves on the board of directors for the Cambridge Licensee Advisory Board, the two university-community coalitions that address alcohol abuse and underage drinking issues on and off campus.
  • Clinical support - MIT Medical has one psychiatrist who is board-certified in addiction psychiatry, two social workers with expertise in alcohol and substance abuse who staff the Institute's Personal Assistance Program, and a clinical nurse specialist who leads an alcohol and substance abuse group. MIT offers several on-campus substance abuse recovery support groups for students and staff, including Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • MIT implemented the BASICS (Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students) program as an early intervention for incoming students and as a resource for students concerned about their alcohol use. Over the previous year, two-thirds of Mental Health service staff at MIT Medical were trained as BASICS counselors, a program outcome that the study has found to significantly reduce the risks associated with drinking on college campuses.
  • Fraternities, sororities and independent living groups (FSILGs) who wish to serve alcohol must complete educational programs on the physiology of alcohol use, safe use of alcohol, emergency medical response and CPR, and liability and risk management practices.
  • The Interfraternity Council sponsored certification of more than 10 percent of the undergraduate student body (455 members of the Classes of 2001, 2002 and 2003) in a Training and Intervention Procedures program (TIPS) that teaches how to serve alcohol responsibly. At least two members of each fraternity have been certified in CPR.
  • Five MIT fraternities are alcohol free.
  • Faculty advisors, housemasters, graduate resident tutors, resident assistants and chaplains receive ongoing training on the prevalence of alcohol use on campus and on their role in preventing alcohol-related problems for individuals and living communities. This training is also available for student groups such as Medlinks.
  • Housemasters, graduate resident tutors and resident assistants in the FSILGs attend meetings and receive a guide that trains them to identify the signs and symptoms of alcohol and other drug abuse and how to approach a student who has those symptoms.
  • Every semester, printed materials and posters are distributed to the living communities that outline alcohol-abuse symptoms and intervention techniques and how to call for help in cases of alcohol overdose.
  • Tech Theater, a peer theater group, involved 19 MIT students who developed and performed scenarios involving alcohol and its impact on student social, academic, interpersonal and sexual functioning. This performance was presented to all incoming students during this year's orientation.
  • The MIT Student Alcohol Advisory Coalition identifies student and community concerns, initiates strategies and solutions for change, and makes significant contributions to the procedures associated with alcohol and other drug matters. The group is open to all interested students.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 6, 2002.

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