Donna Leinwand’s article, “College drug use, binge drinking rise”, published in the national newspaper, USA Today, reports on results by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) regarding the prevalence of alcohol and drug use by college students. Leinwand summarizes the results by indicating that the incidence of alcohol and drugs use has increased since 1993, and she supports her claim with evidence drawn from the CASA study. Leinwand considers the implications of the CASA data for universities While an interview with a president emeritus of one college reports that administrators are attempting to “come to grips” with alcohol and drug use and its impact on student and campus life, the author alludes that such efforts are largely ineffective. Given the data presented by Leinwand and her analysis regarding the inefficacy of colleges in responding to increased alcohol and drug use, it is obvious that more strategizing needs to occur in order to improve management of this problem.
The purpose of Leinwand’s article is to inform us about how big the problem really is of college binge drinking and the use of drugs on campuses. She presents the results of a national study on college students’ alcohol and drug use, and includes data from previous studies on the subject, which provides the reader with an historical context for understanding the subject. Leinwand enriches the data by presenting subjective opinions from authoritative figures, including the presidentCASAand a former college president, who shared his thoughts about the increase in alcohol and drug use among students. This helps put a human face on otherwise dry data, a technique which is always effective.
While Leinwand avoids editorializing, she does subtly convey the idea that colleges need to address the alcohol and drug problem. She notes the rise of use of particular drugs, such as Oxycontin, and alludes to one underlying problem being that of availability of certain substances. By pointing out this fact, Leinwand is also hinting at a potential point of intervention. She also mentions that drug use is lower on historically black campuses, which may suggest that college administrators can seek some guidance and advice from administrators of these schools.
Leinwand presents the information in an organized and logical fashion. She introduces the subject of her article in the first line, and continues to build sequentially by presenting the data from theCASAstudy. She then helps the reader understand the data by including some impressions from interviews of authoritative sources who have knowledge of the subject. Such a journalistic strategy enhances her credibility, as well as that of the subject.
Clearly, theCASAstudy produced a large amount of data. It is impossible to present all information in a small article, but Leinwand discusses the major points and then bullets other highlights. She ensures that the reader has a basic knowledge of the subject once he or she has read the article. The effect of this article is that it brings attention to a subject which is often overlooked or not considered serious. The fact that Leinwand is not preachy but simply presents facts makes it easy for the reader to be engaged. The article is informative but does not present too much information.The article is effective because it also incorporates a consideration of policy and practice intervention. Leinwand does not simply say that there is a problem. She begins to explore why and suggest points of intervention. The intended audience is a general reader, but those with a particular interest in the subject are likely to come away with new information and knowledge. The article is written in an easy and accessible style and requires little analytical skill to understand.
The article could be used by policy makers to orient themselves on the extent of the problem. The inclusion of interview information suggests points for intervention, and can encourage policy makers to survey university administrators for their opinions and practices with respect to controlling alcohol and drug use on their campuses.Leinwand’sarticle is an important contribution to our understanding of the phenomenon of college drug and alcohol use. The data she presents help the reader understand a serious subject and help identify how policy changes can begin to be implemented.