Alcohol abuse is a concern at the University of New Mexico (UNM). In an attempt to make college students and athletes aware of the results of alcohol abuse, UNM has teamed up with the NCAA.
In 2010, the Campus Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (COSAP), in collaboration with UNM athletics, applied for a CHOICES Grant. Upon receiving the grant, $30,000 was dedicated to alcohol abuse education at UNM. This fund is expected to last for a total of three years.
CHOICES is a program funded by the NCAA and Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. in effort to increase not only student athlete but also students’ health and safety. John Steiner, COSAP program manager, said, “This program promotes wise decision making in your student life. This grant is providing resources for us to do several things with both students and student athletes.”
One of the biggest aspects of the CHOICES program is the Electronic Checkup to Go (e-Chug). E-Chug is an online program that allows students to enter information about their drinking habits and receive feedback about their behavior, and if necessary, supportive resources. For all incoming UNM students, e-Chug is now an optional part of their orientation.
Other aspects of CHOICES include video messages played at Lobo football and basketball home games. These videos feature UNM head coaches giving expositions of social norms and the influence alcohol has on athletic performance. “This program enabled us to develop a relationship with athletics. We wanted to serve student athletes. In college prevention you have several high-risk groups and one of them has traditionally been student athletes,” Steiner said.
Jacori Greer, a junior on the Lobo football team, and Gianna Cavuoto, a senior on the Lobo women’s soccer team, attended the Apple Conference. The conference, sponsored by the Center for Alcohol and Substance Education (CASE), funded by the NCAA and hosted by the University of Virginia. This conference is a national training symposium and focuses its efforts on a “prevention team” of student athletes, athletics administrators, coaches and campus personnel that are guided through the creation of an action plan for student-athlete wellness and substance-abuse prevention, according to the Apple Conference website.
Greer and Cavuoto have prepared a student-to-student PowerPoint presentation that outlines the effects of alcohol on athletic performance. “We have been able to start an awareness program that all freshmen take in University 101(a college success seminar), and we have put together a PowerPoint that we have already shown to student advisement,” Greer said.
Amber Amr, a freshman on the Lobos swim team, took the e-Chug at orientation. “When I was first asked to take the e-Chug, I was annoyed that I had to take an electronic test about alcohol, especially because I don’t drink. But after taking it, I am glad I was asked to. My results didn’t surprise me, but now I am a lot more aware of what drinking can do to my results in swimming,” Amr said.
With only one year of funding remaining, the benefits of the CHOICES Grant can potentially change the lives of many student athletes.