The Buzz Works to Curb Alcohol Abuse

Sept. 19, 2012

Spencer Gorin called it: "Alcohol use and abuse continues to be the No. 1 health concern for many college students. But alcohol education often is a hard sell."

But he has a plan.

Gorin, a health educator for the UA's Campus Health Service, developed The Buzz to teach University students about alcohol use and abuse.

The Buzz is a new, creative presentation approach to alcohol education, Gorin said, one that incorporates interactivity through dialog and play. 

“I have a lot of background in harnessing the power of play," said Gorin, who has spent more than 25 years teaching students about empathy and self-regulation through the use of play. On the topic, Gorin also co-authored a book, "Learning to Play, Playing to Learn."   

“Alcohol use is perceived as fun. To find a way to compete with that allure, I turned back to the most natural way we learn, which is through play," Gorin said. "Top that playfulness off with a dash of meaningful personal connections and you get the UA original and effective alcohol education presentation, The Buzz.”

Since 2010, about 2,000 UA students have participated in Buzz presentations. Also, a pilot verision of the program was held at Northern Arizona University. 

"The Buzz has filled a gap in innovative alcohol education programming at Northern Arizona University. Students seem to genuinely have fun during these presentations," said Melissa Griffin, a health educator at NAU. 

Since the creation of The Buzz, Gorin has collaborated with Greek organizations, Residence Life and members of the New Start Summer Program.

"My residents for the New Start Summer Program loved the Buzz. They truly enjoy learning through the 'gameshow-esque' styling of the program and gained a lot of knowledge. That, to me, is astounding," said Carlos Tavares, a UA psychology student, resident assistant and New Start leader.

Presentations this month will be held during the Office of LGBTQ Affairs Ripple Effect Series and at Pima Hall for the Sigma Kappa and Phi Gamma Delta organizations.

And The Buzz already has received a positive student reception and is getting favorable data. 

"So far, evaluations of the program show that students who go through it intend to drink less," Gorin said, adding that the program soon will be marketed to other institutions.

The Buzz complements other UA alcohol education and prevention programs, including the SHADE program, the Self Management and Recovery Training and the Red Cup Q&A, a column in the Arizona Daily Wildcat.

"The serious consequences of college student drinking can be effectively addressed only if we deliver it in a method that resonates with students," Gorin said. "I find it rewarding that the UA is at the forefront of creating innovative programs such as The Buzz."

To arrange a presentation of The Buzz, contact Health Promotion and Preventive Services at 520-621-5700 or Spencer Gorin at gorin@health.arizona.edu.