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Summit To Examine Alcohol, Drug Effect On 'Legacy'

Sept. 4, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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ADAI logo 2012The return to campus each fall can mean many things for Sam Houston State University’s students. For some, returning to campus can serve as a reminder that they are one year closer to achieving their goals: graduation, a career, and perhaps starting or expanding a family.

While focusing on the future, SHSU’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Initiative is asking students to consider all of the potential consequences associated with irresponsible consumption—from minor issues such as an extremely painful hangover to the worst possible outcomes—and expand that to the potential impact on your “legacy” during its seventh annual Alcohol and Drug Summit on Sept. 14.

The free, one-day summit will comprise a series of workshops held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center.

Led by professionals, experts, and those who have experienced alcohol- and substance-related consequences, the sessions will address topics that range from drugs and the brain, alcohol and the law, and Adderall and performance-enhancing supplements to the college dating game.

Through these sessions ADAI coordinator Eddie Gisemba said he hopes students will consider the long-term effects of using and/or abusing even what seems like the most harmless of substances, and the impact that they could have on each student’s legacy beyond just that of one’s health, tying into this year’s summit theme of “LEGACIES.”

“In the majority of efforts to address substance use, there is a very strong focus on health. When we think about smoking, we think about lung cancer; alcohol, we think about injuries in DUI incidents and liver disease; cocaine, we picture bloody noses and death by overdose,” he said. “With an emphasis on this component of substance use we capture a very small piece of a much bigger picture. Substance use can negatively impact every aspect of someone’s life—health, social lives, finances, career, the list goes on. Additionally, an addiction is referred to as a family disease because it has a profound impact on the people close to you as well.

“Ultimately, with the theme for this year being ‘LEGACIES,’ we have the ability to show attendees how substance abuse can negatively impact every aspect of their lives,” he said. “With all of these negative outcomes it’s important that attendees realize that it’s not too early to be thinking deeply about their future. There’s no time better than the present to ask yourself, ‘what do you want your legacy to be?’”

This year’s keynote speaker will be Matt Bellace, a “multi-faceted individual” who has for years used a stand-up comedy approach to alcohol education.

Bellace, who earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from Drexel University, gives hundreds of presentations each year encouraging young people to feel empowered in their schools and communities.

“It is not enough to ask them to stay away from drugs and alcohol, we need to show them there are positive things they can do for themselves and others,” Bellace has said.
“They must all be leaders in their lives.”

The importance of alcohol education for the campus community can be discerned from a 2010 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that showed that more than 63 percent of students enrolled in college full time considered themselves to be “current drinkers” and 42.2 percent to be “binge drinkers.”

While the number of binge drinkers had actually decreased by a full percentage point from the previous year, the same study also revealed what is now viewed as an emerging trend on college campuses: the number of students reporting using drugs had increased in almost every category.

“Recently, it appears that there’s been more use of prescription stimulants for non-medicinal purposes. We are also seeing trends that indicate that marijuana use on college campuses is going up,” Gisemba said. “This is very concerning because of how powerful many of these substances are, the potential effect of mixing with other substances, and the possibility of addiction.”

Because of the legal ramifications of all of these substances, illegal or otherwise, Gisemba said it is important that students educate themselves on the potential risks, no matter how unlikely the negative outcomes may seem to the student, through activities such as the Alcohol and Drug Summit.

“Through activities at the summit, students will be able to learn more in regards to how to conduct oneself in regards to substance use in college and beyond,” he said. “Because substance use, particularly alcohol use, has a heavy social component, we hope that students leave with more information in this area that they can apply to yield better decisions and success in all facets of their lives.”

This year's summit will follow a different format from previous years’ events, offering two sessions in the morning and afternoon during which students can choose from a variety of presentations, as well as a session during which students can visit stations throughout the LSC. Sessions will be available on a come-and-go basis, so students can attend presentations around their class schedule.

“This will include a drunk driving simulator, an informational session on drinking games, and a variety of others,” Gisemba said. “Many of the sessions will be led by fellow students who know the social scene here best.”

Students who attend the summit will receive a free lunch and will be eligible for a number of giveaways and door prizes.

For more information on the seventh annual Alcohol and Drug Summit, or the ADAI, contact Gisemba at emg020@shsu.edu or 936.294.2228 or visit http://www.shsu.edu/dept/adai.



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