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UAlbany Counseling Center Serves as Model for Alcohol Abuse Prevention

November 6, 2009



University Counseling Center

UAlbany's Counseling Center received a $1,500 grant and showcased its ward-winning STEPS program at the 22nd Annual National Prevention Network Research Conference in Anaheim, California.

UAlbany's University Counseling Center continues to garner national attention as a model for alcohol abuse prevention. The Center's STEPS Comprehensive Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Program was awarded the 2009 National Exemplary Award for Innovative Substance Abuse Prevention Programs, Practices, and Policies. The award, which recognizes local, creative, and effective programs working with the community to prevent substance abuse, is presented by the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors and The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

UAlbany's Counseling Center, one of seven award recipients, received a $1,500 grant and showcased its STEPS program at the 22nd Annual National Prevention Network Research Conference in Anaheim, California in September.

"We are delighted to receive more than $4 million in grants over the past several years, allowing us to develop, implement, evaluate, and expand our alcohol abuse prevention efforts and meet the unique needs of those identified as highest risk," said Center Director Dr. Estela M. Rivero. "The Counseling Center has fostered strong relationships with a number of our colleagues at the University, and the STEPS Program has opened the door future collaborations and the delivery of state-of-the-art prevention strategies found to be effective with college students nationwide."

As part of the STEPS program, implemented three years ago, students who are determined through screening to be engaging in high-risk drinking are invited to participate in a brief one-session intervention, which has been shown to lead to reductions in drinking and associated negative consequences. The intervention has also led to increases in protective behaviors, including a studentís making the choice to not use alcohol. Since the programís inception, the Counseling Center has seen a 32 percent increase in the number of students who abstain from engaging in alcohol use.

The program -- funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment -- garnered national recognition earlier this year, when the Center received a "Grand Gold Medal" for program excellence from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, the largest professional student affairs organization in the United States, the 2009 Best Practices in College Health Award by the American College Health Association, and the 2009 Science and Service Award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

During the next two years, the Counseling Center plans to expand its STEPS program, extending its scope to reach fraternities and sororities. This project enhancement is being supported by a 2009 Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Model Program Grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The award, totaling $220,000, will fund program expansion and dissemination of program-related best practices on a national scale.

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