The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Survey Research Center is conducting the first Arkansas statewide assessment of alcohol and substance use in higher education.
The UA Little Rock Survey Research Center is partnering with UA Little Rock MidSOUTH and the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services to conduct the inaugural 2021 Arkansas Collegiate Substance Use Assessment.
“The Arkansas Collegiate Substance Use Assessment will help the government, institutions, and universities across Arkansas plan, implement, and evaluate activities that will help prevent and treat substance abuse across the state,” said Dr. Derek Slagle, director of the UA Little Rock Survey Research Center. “College is usually a time when students are first exposed to alcohol and drugs. College students are considered a high-risk population for first-time users of illicit substances.”
The survey collects self-reported information on alcohol and drug use, mental health status, and perceived attitudes and beliefs among college students in Arkansas.
“For many students in college, it is their first time leaving home to be on their own,” said Dr. Chuks Odor, a prevention manager at MidSOUTH. “Parents, friends, and well-wishers are excited for them in this new chapter of their lives. With this excitement comes a lot of challenges such as adjusting to new surroundings, making new friends, studying to maintain good GPAs to graduate, and the pressure to meet various expectations, etc. Unfortunately, some students get introduced to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs as a way to fit into certain groups, to cope with stress, through peer pressure, or in some cases are forced into usage. However, it is important to note that most students do not use drugs.”
About 25 community colleges, colleges, and universities in the state are participating in the assessment by distributing the 31-question online survey to their students through Oct. 15. The assessment also includes questions related to COVID-19 and virtual learning to assess the pandemic’s effect on alcohol and drug use among college students.
The data will be used to improve safety on college campuses.
“While this is the first college-level assessment of this kind for Arkansas, the assessment is standard in other states across the country,” Slagle said. “MidSOUTH has been distributing the high school version of this assessment since 2002, and they have been a great partner. Two professors, Dr. Amar Kanekar and Dr. Euchay Ngozi Horsman, also helped with the creation of the collegiate survey.”
The results of the assessment, which will be available in January 2022, will be used for the state’s Substance Abuse Block Grant. The Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services, along with other states, receives federal dollars on a routine basis to ensure services are available to promote alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse prevention and treatment programs and recovery support systems for the State of Arkansas.