Jason Massey, University of Southern Mississippi



In 1989, the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (DFSCA) was signed into law. This law gave the federal government the right to deny funding to universities if they did not certify the development, use and review of programming to prevent the abuse of alcohol and illicit drugs. Among the funds that could be denied are student loans sponsored by the federal government. If a university is unable to accept student loans, the number of students capable of attending decreases. The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is an institution that depends on students who qualify for these federal funds, thus making it necessary to follow PL 101-226.Abstracts for dissertations and doctoral projects are limited to 350 words and for theses the Abstract is limited to 250 words.

As part of compliance, USM and many other institutions that receive federal assistance are required to issue a biennial report that explains what they have done to combat the abuse of alcohol. Biennial reviews allow universities a time to amend their current programming to ensure they are complying with both the spirit and legal requirement of the law.

USM’s biennial report cited need to provide up-to-date expert information in an engaging manner that would connect with students. A second issue identified in the USM report was weaknesses in the Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) programming. The report also listed recommendations for ongoing support of the requirements the law. One particular recommendation was to continue to explore means of increasing levels of collaboration with students with regard to their alcohol consumption behavior.

This action research project investigates alcohol use among USM undergraduates during the fall of 2019. The study also collects data students’ responses to the use of technology, in the form of an app, that could provide students with real-time information about their alcohol consumption. Gathering data from a sample of undergraduate students and making use of a modified Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), the researcher collected baseline data on student alcohol behavior and student views on using an app that would provide immediate feedback on consumption. Findings indicate that a mixture of 69.7% of students surveyed are consumers of alcohol, and 30.3% do not drink alcohol. Of the students who drink alcohol, most of the sample did not exhibit a dependency on alcohol. Further findings suggest that the use of an app may assist students at USM maintain a low to moderate possibility of dependence toward alcohol.