National Alcohol Awareness Day being offered to students

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Did you know that the amount of drinks you consume in a week has been correlated with the grades you make? According to Dr. Pamela McManus, interim director of the Counseling Center, and LuAnn Helms, senior staff counselor, students who make “A’s” consume approximately 3.6 drinks or less; students who make “B’s” consume approximately 5.5 drinks; students who make “C’s” consume approximately 7.6 drinks; and students who make “D’s” and “F’s” consume approximately 10.6 drinks per week.This is just one of the many facts you can learn at the National Alcohol Awareness and Screening Day on April 11 in the Lee Drain Building Atrium. The event, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is sponsored by the Counseling Center.”It’s a day we have that is in conjunction with the National Alcohol Awareness Day, and it’s about bringing awareness to students about alcohol and its use and misuse among students,” McManus said.The Counseling Center will set up information booths about alcohol and will have a confidential screening survey for students to fill out. The survey is made up of 10 questions and demographic questions, and should only take about five minutes to fill out.”Last year we had close to 500 (students participate),” McManus said. “Nationally, we have the highest turnout.”After a student completes the survey, it is scored, a process that takes five to 10 minutes. The tabulated scores are then sent to a national program, where all of the statistics are collected, McManus said.”We give (the students) a slip with the results that they keep,” Helms said. The reason for the awareness and screening day is to promote knowledge about alcohol and to inform students of common misconceptions about its use and misuse, McManus said.”Part of it is a lot of people assume that people drink more than they actually do, and so there are a lot of assumptions on college campuses that there is a high percentage, compared to the rest of the population, in binge drinking,” Helms said. “They think it’s the norm, but it’s actually a stereotype about colleges,” she said. “Often you see it on TV and different things. They think the norm is that everyone gets drunk all the time or on the weekends, but most students don’t.”McManus said not only does the campus survey reflect this, but also is reflected nationally.”There is this myth out there that people do drink, and they drink a lot,” she said.Students will be able to take a survey for friends whom they think may have a problem, as well, McManus said. “One neat thing is that people will think, ‘I have a friend who may have a problem,’ and they bring their friend,” she said. “Friends will bring friends inthey’ll say ‘Well, I’ll go get screened,’ but they’re really concerned about their roommate.”We not only want to educate students in drinking problems, but we want to educate all students so we can make them aware, and they can help their friends out,” McManus said. Counselors will be available for students who have questions, Helms said.”We want to kind of be able to have the people take the survey and see where they’re at,” she said.”There is a group (of students) that know they don’t have a problem and a group that do, but this middle group is who we’re after,” McManus said. “They really don’t understand their drinking habits are becoming a problem.”It’s one of these things that if you catch it in time, there’s help available, and they can change,” she said. “Students here are seeing lifelong patterns in life, and so we want them to have healthy drinking habits too.”Members of Second Chance, a Huntsville organization for substance abuse, and members of New Directions, a group of students who are trying to abstain from using drugs and alcohol, will also be at the screening, according to Helms. Along with different literature, the Counseling Center will be giving other “freebies” to survey participants. “You have to fill out a questionnaire to get a prize,” McManus said.