As many students prepare to travel during the week-long spring break later this month, officials with the university's Stay in the Blue campaign are reminding students to be safe and legal while traveling and urging parents to reaffirm their expectations for their students.
Stay in the Blue, a campaign started at the University Health Service by the U-M Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Program five years ago, encourages responsible behavior by students faced with peer pressure to drink, by offering a wide array of strategies for students to plan for their social activities, many of which include alcohol. The phrase "Stay in the Blue," widely understood by U-M students, refers to colored charts distributed by University Health Service educating about healthy ways to keep blood alcohol content at .06 or below (in the safer blue areas of the chart.)
Marsha Benz, a health educator at UHS, says the biggest thing parents can do to help their students Stay in the Blue is to lay out specific expectations and offer strategies for how to meet those expectations.
"It's not enough to tell your son or daughter to 'stay safe' or 'don't do anything stupid,' " Benz says. "But if parents can share more concrete expectations — like 'don’t drink until you’re 21' or 'don't exceed a certain number of drinks' — and provide concrete strategies for achieving these, then students tend to have much higher rates of success at staying safe."
Benz highlights a plethora of resources available for students, including blood alcohol content cards that factor in the number of drinks, time span, weight and gender of an individual to give personalized guidance on the affects of alcohol consumption. Additionally, individual counseling is available for students who want to develop strategies for controlling their drinking habits and better manage peer pressure.
The Stay in the Blue campaign also actively participates in many campus events, providing information and promotional materials to students. Those involved in the program also work with Greek Life to train sober monitors who help students stay safer at off-campus parties.
This year, the Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Program used Stay in the Blue materials — including as posters, blood alcohol charts, napkins and coaters — in partnership with several local bars frequented by students. The bars used these materials to encourage students to stay safer when they choose to drink. A video featuring Desmond Howard, the former Michigan football star who won the Heisman Trophy in 1991, was also made to encourage students who choose to drink to do so in lower-risk ways.
Benz recommends four simple strategies for staying in the blue during break:
- Plan Ahead – Set a maximum number of drinks for each night and stick to the limit to keep your blood alcohol content below .06%.
- Eat and Drink Water – Before going out, make sure you've eaten dinner and that you're keeping yourself hydrated with water.
- Know the Law – When traveling to unfamiliar locations, learn about local drinking laws and adhere to them.
Learn more about the Stay in the Blue campaign.
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