Social Norms Marketing Supported by Federal Government to Reduce High-risk Drinking

The social norms approach to reduce high-risk drinking has again been supported by the US Department of Education through grants to ten colleges and Universities. The awards average about $125,000 each.

The colleges that will be implementing the social norms approach (often called social norms marketing) with the federal funding are:

  • Barton Community College (Kansas)
  • Bowling Green State University
  • Harvard University
  • North Country Community college (New York)
  • Rutgers University
  • University of California at San Diego
  • University of Hawaii
  • University of North Carolina at Wilmington
  • University of Oklahoma
  • University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire

Correcting exaggerated beliefs about the extent to which college students both drink and abuse alcohol has proven to be a very effective way to reduce both the consumption and the abuse of alcohol among students.

Students going off to college almost always believe that "everyone" is drinking heavily and abusing alcohol. By conducting credible surveys of actual student use of alcohol on a campus and then widely publicizing or “marketing” the results, misperceptions are eliminated and students, thus empowered by the real facts, tend to drink less or even not at all.


  • Winners of FY05 Grant Competition to Prevent High-Risk Drinking or Violent Behavior among College Students Grant Competition. Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention. June 10, 2005.