UW-Madison Introduces Online Education Program To Fight High-Risk Drinking


Incoming freshmen at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are now being asked to take an online education program about high-risk drinking.

One of the first classes many freshmen at universities around the country will take has nothing to do with their major. AlcoholEdu is a two-part online course used by more than 500 campuses seeks to educate students about alcohol.

Dr. Sarah Van Orman, who directs University Health Services on the Madison campus, says AlcoholEdu doesn’t just recite facts and figures about the potential hazards of drinking too much – which she says isn’t an effective way of influencing behavior.

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AlcoholEdu, she says, “is kind of a personalized experience. It helps people understand alcohol – to connect their decision to use alcohol or not use alcohol to their academic and personal goals.”

Van Orman says freshman and students living in dorms participate in AlcholEdu. So far, UW officials have 7,800 student responses out of the expected 9,000.

“This isn’t the answer to solving all the challenges with alcohol,” says Van Orman. “This type of educational and behavior program helps but it has to be used in conjunction with a variety of strategies.”

Van Orman says that nationally, about 40 percent of college students report that they had engaged in binge drinking in the past 30 days. That figure rises to 50 percent for all UW System students and more than 60 percent at Madison.