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Initiative Targets 'Influences' In Eighth Summit

Sept. 6, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Aubrie Walker

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Alcohol and Drug Abuse Initiative coordinator Eddie Gisemba and sociology major Claudia Vazquez work to advocate responsibility through ADAI programming and the annual alcohol and drug summit. —Photo by Brian Blalock

 

It seems like every second a commercial comes up on a TV, computer or phone screen. Commercials are a big moneymaking strategy because of their influence on consumers; as the presence of commercials become more frequent, the influence they have on audience becomes louder.

Eddie Gisemba, Sam Houston State University’s coordinator for the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Initiative, has some stimulating thoughts about alcohol commercials and the trends they might be setting.

"Rise Above the Influence"

during the

8th annual Alcohol and Drug Summit

on Friday (Sept. 27),
from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the
third floor of the Lowman Student Center

The goal of each commercial is to make their product, or the people using their product, look unique, fun, exciting, or sexy, according to a study from Medalit.org. The well-known, and often parodied, Dos Equis commercial, for example, makes the lead character look confident, wealthy, liked by the ladies, and well…interesting.

This seems harmless, right? Wrong. When these commercials end, their messages are still repaying in your mind, Gisemba said. “Stay thirsty, my friends.”

“With alcohol, a variety of tactics are used, advertising in various ways; sex and/or humor are most popular. In general, they are designed to ‘sell fantasies,’ portraying alcohol to be the catalyst in wonderful, free, uninhibited good times,” Gisemba said. “Most importantly, in their advertising sellers attempt to alter attitudes regarding drinking. This is particularly troublesome because these tactics often normalize problematic drinking behaviors like heavy drinking, daily drinking, blackouts, or morning-after remorse.”

The medialit.org study explains how ads such as “Hurry Sundown” from a Smirnoff campaign, “Endless Opportunities” from Bud Light, and “Painful” from another Smirnoff ad are just some examples that normalize problematic behaviors.

SHSU’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Initiative works to combat perpetuated myths found in commercials like these and educate students about the real effects of alcohol and drug use and abuse. Commercials are just one of the visible components that make alcohol use trendy, but there are many that are unseen, said Gisemba.

The ADAI also targets other usage trends such as alcohol inhalation and eyeballing, which are becoming more popular. The appeal for many young adults is that both make someone really drunk really fast, but this is an extremely dangerous because a person’s body does not know how to regulate the alcohol intake, which can lead to alcohol poisoning or other scary side effects, according to Gisemba.

“Typically, if someone consumes too much, you can vomit and your body has various defense mechanisms to ensure it is not harmed, but with inhalation and eyeballing it goes straight up to your brain or through blood vessels and your body is not able to regulate it as much,” Gisemba said. “So we try to focus on the dangers that are associated with other avenues of use.”

Bath salts use is also on the rise, as well as prescription drugs such as Adderall and various painkillers. With the legalization of marijuana in some states, reports indicate that the drug has been used more frequently, along with a synthetic type of marijuana called K2. Studies show that mixing all of these types of drugs with each other and with alcohol has become a very dangerous trend.

The question is why are these drugs becoming more prevalent when the consequences seem so straightforward?

Gisemba believes that some drugs now are viewed in the same light as alcohol is in commercials, with thoughts about drugs changing due to the media and other myths.

“There has been a shift in the attitudes regarding alcohol and drugs,” he explains. “For instance, using prescription drugs for medicinal purposes is not seen as taboo, or the quantity—the problematic way in which people often times drink—is no longer seen as taboo.”

With the change in attitudes comes a change in behavior, which can affect lives and lead to serious problems in society, he said.

Scenes from the Seventh Summit...

These trends, and other related issues, will be among those discussed at the 8th Annual Alcohol and Drug Summit, on Sept. 27. The free, daylong event will include sessions on alcohol laws, the costs associated with drinking, and the pros/cons of the legalization of marijuana, to name a few. There also will be a keynote speaker and free lunch.

This year’s theme is “Rising Above the Influence,” asking students to consider tactics used to pressure them to abuse alcohol, tobacco, or drugs so that they can overcome them.

The keynote speaker will be magician Bob Fellows, who will tie in the theme with his presentation “Mind Over Manipulation.”

In his program, Fellows will reveal how audiences are manipulated, how drugs and alcohol affect their lives, and how easily they can lose control and start letting others decide how they act.

Having performed and taught for more than 20 years, Fellows combines speech and performance in a spectacular, fast-paced and meaningful program, according to Gisemba.

Fellows has a master’s degree in theology from Harvard University and is author of Easily Fooled: New Insights and Techniques for Resisting Manipulation. He has given major presentations to the White House staff and has also appeared on national television shows.

Claudia Vazquez and Crystal Lara attended last year’s summit for the first time and found the experience rewarding.

“What I love the most about the summit is that it gives students the opportunity to express themselves and ask questions without the fear of being judged,” said Vazquez, a sociology major.

The two volunteered to help with the morning sessions, but after attending the first one they enjoyed the program so much that they requested permission to miss class so that they could help for the rest of the day. They both now regularly work with ADAI.

“I had a great time as a volunteer and wanted to pursue further the initiative and what it wants to accomplish at Sam,” said Lara, a criminal justice major.

For more information about the 2013 Alcohol and Drug Summit, visit shsu.edu/dept/adai/programs/summit.html or contact Gisemba at 936. 294.2228.

 

 

 

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