Confronting binge drinking
University of Delaware
May 21, 2015
DELAWARE – Social media campaign raises awareness about high-risk drinking
10:40 a.m., May 21, 2015–Brandywine Counseling and Community Services and Collective Action Urging Social Evolution (The CAUSE) recently held a Binge Media Challenge at the University of Delaware to encourage students to use social media to confront the issue of binge drinking.
The events were held May 13 at UD’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus Health Sciences Complex, and May 15 at the Student Centers Program Advisory Board (SCPAB) Senior Fling on the North Green.
The challenge was held in partnership with You Front and Center and UD’s College of Health Sciences, and was supported by a grant from the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a binge is a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. Typically, this pattern corresponds to males consuming five or more drinks and females consuming four or more drinks in about a two-hour timespan.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent.
A priority recommendation of UD’s Delaware Will Shine strategic plan calls for the University to become a model for involving parents, alumni and students in reducing binge drinking and other high-risk behaviors.
“You are the main character in your life and to every other human being on the planet you are a supporting act,” Scott Michels, director of The CAUSE, said. “You can be a hero or a villain. A hero helps you get where you want to be, and a villain keeps you from getting there.”
Michels briefed participants on the rules of the contest, in which each team had to create a social media platform for the campaign. The winners were announced during an alcohol-free happy hour.
Students are the people who have the best chance to interact with their friends and to intervene when friends are engaged in binge drinking, Michels said.
“You can choose to be a hero when it comes to protecting your friends,” Michels said. “When you see someone getting into a bad situation, that’s when you can help.”
Jill Fredel, director of communications for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, said the social media campaign at UD is part of a focus on substance abuse prevention in the 12-25 age group.
“It’s great to involve young people and for them to reach each other, because they see the risks others face and they want to help,” Fredel said. “We want to see what they come up with. Reaching parents and other adults also is important, and any message that we can get out there is terrific.”
Nikole Papas, director of prevention for Brandywine Counseling and Community Services, said her organization also collaborated with the college and The CAUSE to create the event.
“We wanted to educate students about binge drinking,” Papas said. “They can be an agent for change for their peers by creating a social media message.”
Sarah LaFave, program coordinator in the dean’s office in the College of Health Sciences, said it was important for the college to be a participant in the event.
“As a College of Health Sciences, issues affecting the health of our students are priorities for us. We wanted to support this event because it really focused on engaging students,” LaFave said. “I commend the participating students for coming out and spending an evening of their time with us.”
Michels said that James Zent, a participant with the #WhatHappenedToMe team, was surprised at how engaging and fun the experience was.
“James mentioned that an aunt of his called him to see if he was OK after seeing a post on Facebook for his campaign,” Michels said. “We discussed how that was just one example of how his campaign had already jumped from the Internet to a real conversation where he could bring awareness to binge drinking.”
The first binge media challenge was a successful pilot of an idea that can be expanded on, LaFave said.
“We were all thrilled with the campaigns that resulted and Brandywine Counseling, The CAUSE, and UD College of Health Sciences are all excited to promote them formally after the competition period,” Michels said. “Several students have also expressed interest in helping to plan and promote further such activities and campaigns.”
Event partners are seeking funding to repeat and expand the program, and have received several ideas from students, including extending the competition throughout the school year and creating opportunities to spread information online and at events like the Senior Fling, Michels said.
“We are looking to individuals, organizations and clubs on campus to collaborate with in planning and implementing such strategies,” Michels said, adding that those interested can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students and prize winners
Students on the #MyHappyHour team included juniors Michelle Horev and Staci Erdos, and sophomore Sofia Argibay, all health behavior science majors.
“We heard about this from one of our professors,” Horev said. “It seemed like a good cause.”
Argibay and Erdos also said they believed their team was coming up with some really
good ideas and expressed the hope that they might be able to reach someone with their message.
The event also was filmed for a short documentary and prizes were awarded to the winning teams.
Grand prize, $200, for most likes and shares in 48 hours, was awarded to #WhatHappenedToMe, with team leader Megan O’Day, a junior in the College of Health Sciences.
Second place, $50, was awarded to #MyHappyHour.
Event attendance prize of $50 was awarded to #WhatHappenedToMe for sending the most people to the Binge Media Challenge event table at the SCPAB Senior Fling on the North Green.
Also, a prize of $100 will be awarded to the group with the most likes and shares as of noon, Monday, May 25.