Public Affairs, The California State University

California Universities Explore Solutions to Student Substance Abuse

California State University system hosts one of nation’s largest educational conferences aimed at preventing drug and alcohol abuse among college students

Drug and alcohol use and abuse are significant public health problems that exact an enormous toll on the intellectual and social lives of college students throughout the United States and in California. In fact, the National Institute of Health reports that each year an estimated 1,825 college students between the ages of 18-24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.

In an effort to foster student success, hundreds of staff, faculty and students from colleges and universities throughout California will gather at CSU Channel Islands April 3-4 to share ideas, activities, and best practices aimed at preventing substance abuse among college students at the CSU’s Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs Educational Conference (ATOD).

The ATOD conference was established by the CSU Chancellor’s Office in 2001 to strengthen drug abuse prevention programs, activities and initiatives throughout the 23-campus CSU system. The annual event also offers the opportunity for colleagues at the University of California, California Community Colleges and private institutions to share best practices in drug abuse education and prevention.

“The CSU is committed to maintaining an environment on our campuses where students are able to thrive academically and acquire the skills necessary for life-long success,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. “Our ATOD conference provides the opportunity for higher education and community partners to address alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse to ensure innovative and impactful programming is available to our campus communities.”

This year’s conference will highlight the CSU’s system-wide collaboration with Aware Awake Alive, a peer-to-peer alcohol education program that empowers students to make the right call when faced with an alcohol poisoning emergency. Aware Awake Alive was created by Scott and Julia Starkey in the legacy of their son Carson, a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo freshman who died of alcohol poisoning in 2008. Last year, Chancellor White committed to implement the program throughout the CSU.

Aware Awake Alive is just one of the tools Chancellor White has implemented to complement the university’s ongoing efforts to encourage safe, healthy behaviors among students, and will be incorporated into existing alcohol educational efforts to support student success.

Other topics to be addressed include research around alcohol and other drug trends among college students, best practices in campus and community substance abuse prevention, bystander intervention training programs and college student mental health and wellness.

This year’s event is expected to draw more than 400 registered participants, making it the largest in ATOD’s 13-year history. The conference will feature opening keynote remarks by CSU Channel Islands President Richard R. Rush and a closing address by acclaimed Oscar-winning actor, author and philanthropist Louis Gossett Jr.

Portions of the ATOD conference will be streamed live at


About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 447,000 students and 45,000 faculty and staff. The CSU awards more than 100,000 degrees annually and since its creation in 1961 has conferred nearly 2.9 million. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. The mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. Connect with and learn more about the CSU at CSU Social Media. Show how the CSU matters to you and take action.