The University Record, December 3, 2001

Coordinator for alcohol and drug abuse programs comes on board

By Joel Seguine
News and Information Services

A new position in the Division of Student Affairs will coordinate campus and community efforts to address alcohol and other drug use and abuse. The appointment of Patrice Flax is the result of a recommendation of the multidisciplinary Binge Drinking Committee Report of 1999, and the Division of Student Affairs Task Team on Alcohol and Other Drugs Report completed in June 2000.

Flax joins a multidisciplinary group of staff and faculty committed to addressing alcohol use, abuse among students and the adverse impact of these problems on the campus community. She will be a member of the Health Promotion and Community Relations Department at University Health Service, addressing a range of public health issues.

Her experience in health education began while a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned an M.S. in health education in 2000.

During her time in Madison, Flax was involved as a health educator, working with both alcohol and sexuality issues. She also has an M.S.W. in social work from San Jose State University and a B.F.A. in art history from Drake University.

Flax says she loves working in the prevention field. “My goal is to work with students to emphasize the strengths they have that can help them protect themselves from the bad things that can happen when they abuse alcohol,” she says. “It’s part of building a sense of community, including a level of awareness where individuals look to help their peers who may be heading for trouble. And it’s very important as well to support students who don’t drink because they, too, can be affected by the secondary effects of alcohol abuse by those around them.”

Flax is impressed with the Student Life Survey conducted on the U-M campus by the U-M Substance Abuse Research Center, which, among other data, has provided details about the primary and secondary effects of student alcohol use. “One of the ways to use the survey results is in working with students to craft targeted messages that can help to change the culture of drinking among students,” Flax says.