Joining the ‘social norming’ bandwagon

by Heather Robinson
USAG Kaiserslautern

According to recent data, 75 percent of Soldiers do not drink and drive, 78 percent of Soldiers have not been a passenger in a vehicle belonging to a driver who is under the influence and 95 percent of Soldiers do not use illicit drugs. 

Too good to be true some might say, but the data speaks for itself, and research from college campuses in the United States indicate that disseminating this information broadly will lower the risk of incidents related to alcohol and drugs for that population. 

Why is this information important and why are our Soldiers so willing to be a part of pushing it out to others? 

It is called social norming and utilizes a positive message, solid information and peer counseling to challenge misconceptions about drinking and drug use.

Research from college campuses illustrates that peers have the greatest influence on student norms. When peer norms appear to encourage immoderate drinking, consumption goes up.

Regardless of gender, ethnic group, residential circumstance and Greek affiliation, most students believe their peers hold more permissive attitudes about drinking than they actually do.

Likewise, they believe their peers drink more heavily than they do.

The U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern Alcohol Substance Abuse Program and Community Health compared the demographics of our population to that of a college campus one year ago and, with the help of volunteer Lourdes Guidicelli, began working our own social norming campaign called “Stand Up and Be Counted.” 

Senior leadership from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command and the garrison have led the way with flyers promoting a positive campaign that will lead Soldiers to making the low-risk decision in regards to alcohol and drugs. The program has taken off with public service announcements with celebrity fighters and Soldiers from 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery and Criminal Investigation Department promoting what those with high-risk jobs and personalities can and do make low-risk decisions regarding lifestyle. 

With the support of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Defense Commissary Agency and our senior leadership, you now see social norming posters with familiar faces that are leaders of every rank, race and gender promoting the positive message of low-risk choices.

Help our Soldiers and families protect the things they value most.  Send a positive message and “Stand Up and Be Counted.”

For more information on social norms, visit  
To get involved in the local “Stand Up and Be Counted” campaign, e-mail