Drinking alcohol is all about making CHOICES.

Student Health Services has introduced a new alcohol risk-reduction program to help students deal with the problems that many of them face every weekend.

CHOICES is a 90-minute program that will take place on the third floor of the Buck Center once a month.

Students enrolled in CHOICES are obligated to attend one session only.

Students are referred to the program by deans, coaches or Health Services. Students are also invited to self-refer.

The first session of CHOICES was held last Friday. Four students attended.

Though the participant evaluation forms have not yet been submitted, reactions seemed positive, according to Director of Health Services Sandra Hayes.

"They liked that it wasn't me just, didactic, you know. It was a conversation; it was a lot of questions, answers," said Hayes.

Hayes said that the students came away with new information and expects that the evaluations will be favorable.

"I think it was more engaging than they had anticipated and they liked that," she said.

CHOICES came recommended by several other colleges on a student health services listserv to which Hayes subscribes. And the choice was easy.

It was by "far the one that was touted by the most colleges, the most successful," she said.

When she looked into it, CHOICES stood out to Hayes because of its focus on student reflection. CHOICES also incorporates research surrounding alcohol use and abuse in the 90-minute dialogue.

"For the most part, this program isn't about telling people they should or should not drink...it's about talking to them," said Hayes.

"If they choose to drink, these are the facts, or, this may be what happens to you in particular," she said.

For Hayes, it was important "that the students own this."

Much of the program is discussion-based.

Students follow-up by recording, in a journal provided by CHOICES, a detailed account of their post-workshop alcohol intake.

Though the program is used in many places besides Bowdoin, Hayes works to educate participants about local resources such as the Counseling Center and nearby Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

CHOICES is currently to be held once a month, but scheduling could increase depending on demand.

Hayes estimated that around 77 percent of Bowdoin students drink alcohol, which is lower than the national average of college students, around 82 or 83 percent.

Though there is currently no similar program for drug-use, Hayes said one could be instituted if it were deemed necessary.

The program is free of charge and a date has not yet been chosen for the next workshop.