Alcohol & Substance Abuse Awareness Day
On November 7, the Department of Student Involvement and Janice Gilroy, the Health Services Coordinator, hosted an event to promote healthy lifestyles which specifically concern the treatment and prevention of alcohol and drug abuse. By the time the event began, Student Center Room 190 and a good portion of the outside hallway was packed with students lining up to get in, as well as to get tickets for the three-prize raffle.
Part of this may have been because many classes offered extra credit to students who attended the event and completed an assignment on it, but there was a steady stream of students coming through even after the initial rush ended. The
raffle had three prizes: a Starbucks Peppermint Hot Chocolate Kit, a Westchester Community College hoodie, and a Fitness On the Go Kit.
The most popular stations at the event were the generally acknowledged highlights of these types of events: the “drunk goggles” simulated drunk driving test and a “drunk driving simulator”. The “drunk driving simulator” was provided by Simplified Entertainment. The effects of drunk driving with a simulated .13 Blood Alcohol Content Level were simulated by programming in major delays for the brake and gas pedals and magnifying even small adjustments of the wheel to simulate overcompensating.
Organizations with tables at the event included on-campus organizations such as the WCC Health Office and the Emergency Medical Services Club, drug crisis policy advocates such as Drug Crisis in Our Backyard and The Harris Project, local treatment centers such as St. Vincent’s Hospital and Phelps Hospital Northwell Health and other, more unexpected guests.
Many groups dedicated to helping people dealing with mental disorders such as anxiety, OCD and PTSD were in attendance. This is because many people develop a mental disorder as a result of substance abuse and the conditions that drove them to it. Others start abusing or misusing drugs and alcohol to dangerously self-medicate for pre-existing mental disorders. A diagnosis of this type, a person having both an addiction disorder as well as another mental disorder is known as a “dual diagnosis” or “Co-Occurring Disorder” (COD). A widely-cited statistic from the US Department of Health’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) estimated that
“approximately 7.9 million adults in the United States had co-occurring disorders in 2014”,
They went on to state that
“[p]eople with mental health disorders are more likely than people without mental health disorders to experience an alcohol or substance use disorder”
Another interesting group in attendance was the Westchester Community Opportunity Program (WestCOP) Victim Assistance Program. WestCOP wanted to bring attention to instances of drug abuse both in the prison population and among victims of crime struggling to deal with their trauma, as well as the use of alcohol to facilitate rape. They were also there to promote two specific programs of interest. These were a volunteer training program for rape victim advocates and a paid position for crime victims to go into prisons to educate prisoners about the deep-seated trauma they can cause with their crimes.