Scientists have created technology that can provide people with a lot of assistance in their lives: calculations for complex math questions, ways to communicate wirelessly with other people and medical devices that save lives. Florida Gulf Coast University’s Prevention & Wellness has recently purchased a piece of technology perfect for college students … a drinking buddy.
The iDrinkSmarter app enables users to track his or her blood-alcohol content and provides them with “red flags to look for when drinking,” according to the P&W website.
Priya Thomas, director of P&W, says the app has been available to students before, but it was more difficult to access than it is now.
“Previously, we had to purchase individual codes, which we would pass out at alcohol programs and events,” Thomas wrote in an email. “Now, however, unlimited access is available with an annual subscription, which we have purchased.”
P&W purchased the subscription for $750, but the company that provides the app has not given P&W a way to track the number of FGCU users.
“They are working on adding something to the program that will enable institutions to know how many from their community will have signed up for the app,” Thomas wrote.
Thomas said the app is free for students and staff to use, and personal information will not be shared with the school.
Another way that P&W tries to provide students with practical, safe-drinking information is through its Training for Intervention Procedures program. TIPS is an alcohol-bystander program, which trains college students how to identify signs of intoxication and how to intervene when other people may have consumed too much alcohol.
FGCU has had the TIPS program since 2011, and Thomas says the response to the program has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
“Students love the interactive portion of the program with the skits and rating the videos as well,” Thomas wrote.
TIPS is available for student groups and not individuals because of the required staff scheduling. Thomas thinks that TIPS sessions for individuals may be available in the future.
P&W and the Office of Student Involvement cover the cost of the $13 TIPS manuals so students who attend the workshop can take it for free.
“Since 2011, FGCU has trained 912 students to date,” Thomas wrote.
“In the past, members of Student Government and orientation leaders have been TIPS trained.
“Each year in P&W, we make sure our new Peers CARE Educators become TIPS certified.”
Thomas believes that both the iDrinkSmarter app and TIPS are tools students can use to feel empowered and safe.
“It is possible to enjoy the positive things students like about alcohol without having to deal with the negative consequences they experience, but that means becoming informed and educated,” Thomas wrote.