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Alcohol Awareness Campaign Launches at UC

The Reduce Risky Drinking campaign went live this week at UC’s Mega Market Day.  The campus campaign is part of the broader project Risky Drinking among undergraduate university students – a social norms based approach.

The aim of the project is to create new social norms surrounding the relationship between university students and alcohol; one that sees risky drinking reduced. Those behind the campaign believe that many students change their drinking behaviour, increasing their intake, in order to fit in with what they think is the social norm.

Funded by the ACT Health Promotion Grant, the project is being implemented by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) in partnership with the Medical and Counselling Centre here at UC.

FARE Health Promotion Officer, Susan Hickson says that the campaign hopes to alter the social norms surrounding risky drinking through a range of different methods, including an engaging social media campaign, posters, and digital displays.

“Risky drinking behaviours can be highly visible, giving the impression that it is more common than it actually is. Less visible is the behaviour of people who don’t drink – or who drink moderately. Public behaviours drive the norm, students tend to drink more in line with their perception of the norm at university.”

“By providing information on actual drinking behaviour of students and their peers we hope to create a new norm that does not reinforce risky drinking,” she said.

Hickson believes the campaign is highly important as alcohol use at universities, including UC, has long been a concern.

“To university students, long term harms from alcohol might not seem relevant – but they are insidious. Alcohol use contributes significantly to the burden of cardiovascular disease, liver disease and mental health problems, and five percent of all cancers are attributable to alcohol. We also know that one in five breast cancers are caused by alcohol.”

“Add to this the fact that for many undergraduate students, the brain is still developing.  Alcohol is known to interfere with brain development; and heavy drinking can cause permanent damage to the memory.”

“We know that drinking to excess is not the norm for the majority of students. This campaign is about increasing the awareness that the majority of students are not drinking alcohol in such ways and we want students to feel OK to say to no, I don’t want another drink – or I don’t want to drink at all.”

Students can engage with the campaign via Facebook and Twitter, and are encouraged to share and add content of their own. During the first phase of the campaign students are being asked to post and share a photo on Instagram, using the hashtags #reduceriskydrinking and #createanewnorm.

To find out more about the Reduce Risky Drinking campaign click here.

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