1992 the University of Arizona (UA) Campus Health Service received
a Fund For The Improvement Of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE) grant
from the U.S. Department of Education to conduct campus wide substance
abuse prevention activities aimed at reducing both heavy and high
risk drinking among students. In 1994 UA was awarded a 1.8 million
dollar grant from the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP)
to implement and test strategies to prevent heavy and high-risk
alcohol use among undergraduates. One of the strategies was social
norms marketing, a relatively new approach first implemented on
the campus of Northern Illinois University by Michael Haines and
the Health Enhancement staff at the student health center.
norms marketing is a strategy based on the work of Drs. Wes Perkins
and Alan Berkowitz who, in the mid 80’s, uncovered the widespread
misperception/over-perception held by college students about drinking
among their college peers. Perkins and Berkowitz hypothesized that
if the misperceived norms could influence students to drink more,
the true norms could influence students to drink less.
the UA is a large campus (37,000 students in 2003/2004), our prevention
staff knew that exposing students to information with enough frequency
to affect the accuracy of knowledge about the norms for student
drinking would require a new approach to campus education/prevention.
Social norms required that our staff learn social marketing techniques
– message development, media design, and media placement.
In our first year of social norms marketing, our media campaign
was confusing, unattractive and failed to deliver the norms. But
by 1995, we had learned to use graphic design and simple messages
placed in our school newspaper to get our messages seen and remembered
1994, the UA’s substance abuse prevention program has used
a two-pronged approach: norms perception correction and environmental
management. Through environmental management UA has set policy and
influenced enforcement of laws both on and off campus through campus
and community collaborations. Environmental management at the UA
has underscored and enhanced the norms of the majority.
3 years of the start of this two-pronged approach (social norms
marketing and environmental management), heavy drinking at the UA
decreased by 29%; and Homecoming, our largest and most problematic
celebration event, became safer as documented by significantly fewer
alcohol related incidents and police calls.
1994, UA has been awarded seven additional grants – including
a U.S. Department of Education Model Program Award - to further
the scope of its substance abuse prevention programming. The Challenging
College Alcohol Abuse (CCAA) program is now listed in the SAMHSA
Registry of Effective Substance Abuse Programs.
materials presented throughout this site are intended to serve as
a supplement to A Practical
Guide to Alcohol Abuse Prevention: A Campus Case Study in Implementing
Social norms and Environmental Management Approaches. The
Guide was developed in accordance with one of the goals
of the CSAP grant. To obtain a copy of the Guide, please
contact the Health Promotion & Preventive Services office at
(520) 621-5700 or download a copy (.pdf format) from the guidebook
section of this website.