The Louisiana Center Addressing Substance Use (LaCASU) was developed as a result of LSU’s participation in an institutional study titled, “A Matter of Degree” (AMOD). In 1998, LSU was one of ten schools selected for this project. This selection followed the 1997 drinking death of an LSU student, LSU received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for participation in a five-year grant project administered by the American Medical Association and evaluated by Harvard School of Public Health. The ten schools, all with high binge drinking rates, applied a campus-community environmental model to their alcohol prevention efforts. Each was required to initiate a campus-community coalition; to target areas which included community policy, better enforcement of alcohol laws, alcohol advertising, campus alcohol education, on-and off campus living environments, and campus alcohol policy; and the ten schools tracked their progress by administering a yearly alcohol/drug survey to a sample of students.
After the initial 5-year study, LSU was provided with funding from RWJF to extend the study another three years. Description and results of study can be found at the College Alcohol Study website: hsph.harvard.edu/cas.
In 2006, at the end of the 8-year period with the “A Matter of Degree” grant-funded study, two LSU Coalition partners, the Office for Behavioral Health of the LA Department of Health and Hospitals and the LA Highway Safety Commission extended funding to the LSU project to expand the environmental model to other institutions of higher education in Louisiana, to continue the work of the Baton Rouge area campus-community coalition, and to fund the statewide administration of the Core Alcohol Survey.
LaCASU is under the auspices of LSU's Student Health Center and is currently funded by the Department of Health's, Office of Behavioral Health, Louisiana Higher Education Coalition (LaHEC).