A photo of two people walking past a sign made of giant letters that spell out \"VCU\"
VCU is among the inaugural honorees of the Campus Recognition Program of the Virginia Higher Education Substance Use Advisory Committee. (File photo)

VCU among first colleges to be honored by Virginia ABC panel for substance use prevention efforts

ABC’s new Campus Recognition Program highlights initiatives that serve students.

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A new program affiliated with the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority has honored Virginia Commonwealth University for its commitment to student substance use education, prevention, recovery and intervention.

Created by the General Assembly in 2018, the Virginia Higher Education Substance Use Advisory Committee includes representatives from public and private colleges, student leaders, state agencies and statewide partners. They are appointed by the Virginia ABC board to collaborate to reduce substance misuse at schools and advocate for policies and practices that are science-based.

This year, the advisory committee launched its Campus Recognition Program, with VCU joining James Madison University, Longwood University, the University of Mary Washington and Wytheville Community College as the inaugural honorees.

“The negative consequences of substance misuse impact Virginia’s college students, their families and friends, and the community at large daily, and alcohol continues to remain the most used drug on college campuses,” said Chris Young, Virginia ABC adult education and prevention coordinator. “The toll of misuse on the intellectual and social lives of students is enormous. Without partnerships and support at the local and state levels, colleges and universities have a limited capacity to address the problem of substance misuse.”

The Campus Recognition Program will be an annual initiative to publicly honor colleges across Virginia that implement statewide initiatives to stem substance use on campus. Such efforts include VCU’s Rams in Recovery, a program under the Division of Student Affairs. Rams in Recovery serves dozens of students and offers multiple meetings each week on campus, as well as support for housing, scholarships and other services. It is part of the Virginia Collegiate Recovery network, led this year by Tom Bannard, who is program coordinator of Rams in Recovery.

The Virginia ABC is a major source of revenue for the state’s general fund, contributing more than $2.7 billion in the past five years. In addition to operating 400 retail stores, it provides alcohol education and prevention programs for all ages, and its Bureau of Law Enforcement oversees about 19,000 ABC-licensed establishments.