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Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program

Hosted by: Sam Houston State University (SHSU)

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

In the early 2000s, SHSU lost several students due to underage alcohol-impaired driving accidents. As a result, the university formally created an initiative aimed at prioritizing and coordinating alcohol and other drug prevention efforts. In the spring, our university implemented a campus-wide survey of students to gather data on their health status and behaviors. Additionally, our Office of Health Promotion runs an alcohol and drug prevention program that includes prevention efforts aimed at educating our campus community on the dangers of underage alcohol and substance use. Components of this program include interactive health fairs, presentations to student groups/classrooms, targeted programming, tabling events and passive programming, and more.

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How did a Communities Talk event help you address those issues?

  • Mobilized coalition members or other stakeholders
  • Educated youth and parents
  • Helped plan future prevention efforts
  • Made making good health behavior choices fun and engaging
  • Raised awareness of substance abuse and/or underage drinking issues in our community
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Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?

  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov website
  • Communities Talk website
  • Communities Talk planning guides
  • Communities Talk toolkits
  • Communities Talk social media content (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)
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How did your event make an impact on underage drinking in your community?

Participants learned about the dangers of underage drinking using our educational publications. We also conducted a “drunk goggles” activity and the “bar exam,” where students were able to learn the measurements of a standard drink. Our most popular activity was a drunk-driving simulator where participants wore goggles that simulated the effects of drunkenness and attempted to navigate a video game-like driving simulator without crashing. The video course included several obstacles that impaired drivers’ attempts to navigate. This activity helped to teach participants about the effect of alcohol use on motor skills and the delayed reactions that ultimately can lead to a crash and/or fatality.

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What other challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?

  • Lack of interest from the community
  • Inexperience hosting Communities Talk activities
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How did you overcome these challenges?

The Student Health Center and Greek Life Office helped us the most in spreading the word to others. Word of mouth and flyer distribution were the most useful methods; however, we think there are other outlets we could have used that would have promoted the event even more. These outlets include mass e-mails, lawn signs, and use of digital signage.

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What are your next steps?

  • Conduct research efforts to learn more about issues in our community
  • Create a public education campaign to raise awareness and/or change behaviors around underage drinking (i.e., create PSAs and other promotional materials)

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