Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Texas A&M-Kingsville, Institute of Rural Development Seek to Reduce Underage Drinking through State-Funded Study

KINGSVILLE - October 23, 2008

Contact: Jason Marton
jason.marton@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4143

Three hundred students at Texas A&M University-Kingsville will be part of a year-long study to chart, treat and reduce underage drinking at the campus.

Specifically, the study wants to establish a baseline figure for underage drinking among the A&M-Kingsville student population, reduce that consumption through counseling and find out where or from whom underage drinkers get their alcohol.

Participating students will start the study by filling out a questionnaire describing what their habits are regarding the intake of alcohol. They also will complete an Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test showing their degree of alcohol use, and sign a pledge to refrain from drinking alcohol.

The study also will include alcohol prevention presentations for students under the age of 21 twice each month, and informational items in the South Texan and the campus television station on the hazards of alcohol.

Dr. Don Daughtry, associate professor of psychology and sociology, directs the study and Ben Figueroa of the not-for-profit Institute of Rural Development in Kingsville is project administrator. The study is funded by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC).

The idea came some two years ago, when Figueroa was one of Daughtry’s students. “Ben and I felt there was more that could be done to meet the needs of students and the university on the topic of underage drinking, which is a problem faced by nearly every college campus,” said Daughtry.

Figueroa, a drug and alcohol counselor for 25 years, said that most university students have never been given information about the dangers of alcohol. Besides the health concerns brought about by binge drinking, Figueroa noted that alcohol can often be the first step toward using illegal substances.

“As a gateway drug, alcohol begins with underage drinkers that progress to the more illicit type of drug use. We believe we can have an impact with a structured program targeting underage drinkers at Texas A&M-Kingsville.”

Daughtry said he and Figueroa would be assisted by master’s level psychology student counselors during the course of the study. In addition, Daughtry said local law enforcement agencies would be notified of any establishments violating liquor laws, and other student service branches of the university would have the chance to participate in the study.

“A program like this is worth doing for the students that need help, it provides experience for our graduate students and it benefits the university as a whole,” said Daughtry.

Figueroa added, “As an alumnus of the university, this program is my way of giving back to Texas A&M-Kingsville.

“It’s a benefit to the community as well. Nationally and locally speaking, substance abuse costs corporations and small businesses millions of dollars a year in terms of absenteeism, less diligence on the job, accidents and severe health problems.”

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