Alcohol and Other Drugs

Contrary to many media portrayals, campus surveys consistently show that the vast majority of UCLA students report no or low use of alcohol. In fact, in surveys conducted in 1999 and 2002, over 75% of undergraduate survey respondents reported drinking 0-4 drinks in a sitting, including more than 25% who said that they do not drink at all. Among graduate students, it is even rarer for students to report having more than four drinks in a sitting.  Data collected in 2002 showed that 84% of graduate students reported drinking four or fewer drinks in a sitting, with 24% reporting that they do not drink.   However, the data from both surveys showed that students who said they drank more than four drinks in a sitting also reported the highest rates of negative experience (e.g., academic problems, blackouts, injuries, legal and disciplinary sanctions, drinking and driving, and unplanned or unprotected sex) in connection with their drinking. These data also revealed that most students do not use illicit drugs.  In 2002, 70% of students reported no use of any drug, and only 17% reported use of a drug other than marijuana.

Students often express surprise or disbelief when they hear these figures. When students are asked about what they think other students are doing, they consistently overestimate alcohol and drug use among their peers. Perhaps this is because the disruptive behavior of a small number of heavy users tends to be more visible than the unremarkable behavior of the majority who are not using alcohol or other drugs in ways that hurt themselves or others. Student Development Health Education is one of many campus departments that work in partnership with student groups to empower the majority of students who want to promote a healthy and safe campus environment around the issues of alcohol and other drug use.

  • Effective harm reduction requires several components: addressing policy to regulate structural influences on use; educational efforts to alter misperceptions of drug and drinking norms on campus; and early problem identification, intervention and referral. Health Education activity in the area of alcohol and other drugs (AOD) includes the following:
  • Oversight of the UCLA Drug-Free Schools Committee  which guides and develops campus AOD policy;
  • Creation ofthe annual Chancellor’s Official Notice which details campus AOD policy and is distributed to every registered student; Be a Hero Logo
  • Production of multi-media campaigns such as “Done 4” that aims to correct student misperceptions regarding drinking norms on campus and “Be a Hero … Get the Keys” that encourages the reduction of harm to self and others.
  • Implementation of the online “AlcoholEdu” course required of all new undergraduate and transfer students;
  • Training student leaders to conduct ongoing alcohol harm reduction programs;
  • Facilitation of training workshops to staff and student groups;
  • Presentation of courses and opportunities for independent study (through the School of Public Health), which incorporate content on harm reduction;
  • Participation in interventions and referrals to UCLA Student Psychological Services and treatment programs;
  • Research and evaluation;
  • Grants to support alcohol harm reduction programs.

For more information, please contact:

Rena Orenstein
Assistant Director, Student Wellness Initiatives
Student Development Health Education
Ph: (310) 825-5503
FAX: (310) 267-2053

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