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Focusing on College Students

The higher education community can play an important in providing leadership for innovative initiatives that address substance abuse. David Anderson discusses ONDCP's new focus on college and university students.

The 2011 National Drug Control Strategy pays special attention to college students and I am pleased to see ONDCP working to address this special population. College students are an important audience for focused and dedicated attention, as they are at a major crossroads into adulthood. Further, the higher education setting has too many substance abuse problems, including over 1,800 alcohol-related deaths, lowered academic performance, and injury –all of which are preventable.

Our higher education community can play an important in providing leadership for innovative initiatives, multi-disciplinary and collaborative strategies, evidence-based efforts, documentation and evaluation of approaches, and community outreach that address substance abuse. I find that many campuses have dedicated personnel striving to increase the quality of the living and learning environment. However, these same people report limited understanding or support from higher level administrators. I believe this new attention from ONDCP can help raise the priority of an issue that affects all campuses.

I am further heartened by recent conversations I've had with David Mineta, ONDCP's Deputy Director of Demand Reduction. David demonstrates a genuine concern about this issue and is providing much-needed leadership with promoting the continuum of services needed for a comprehensive campus approach. With my long-term research and work nationally, and my work with the Virginia College Alcohol Leadership Council, I applaud this new attention and look forward to seeing its impact.

David S. Anderson is Director of Center for the Advancement of Public Health and Professor of the Education and Human Development