Raising awareness of drinking responsibly

By Samantha Smith

Youngstown State University hosted an alcohol screening event for students to discuss and learn about substance and alcohol abuse. As an incentive to attend, the first 30 participants received a free T-shirt, and the first 200 participants got free ice cream.

The YSU Counseling Program sponsored the event with the partnership of YSU Counseling Services and the YSU Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center April 8 in the Ohio room of Kilcawley Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Amy Williams, assistant professor in the counseling program, said National Alcohol Screening Day is a way to raise awareness about safe and healthy consumption of alcohol as well as drinking guidelines.

“National Alcohol Screening Day is a day where everyone who wants to, is invited to participate in a brief screen, have a conversation with someone about the results of that screen and ways to reduce high-risk alcohol use,” she said. 

Participants were not required to provide identification. Once the participant completed the screening provided by the volunteers at the event, they had a chance to meet with a group intervention for 10 to 15 minutes to discuss ways they could reduce the risks of alcohol abuse.

Williams explained what the screening process entailed for those who participated in the event.

“We’re using the alcohol use disorders identification test during the audit. It’s a handful of questions about frequency and quantity of alcohol use and consequences of alcohol use,” she said. “It is an evidence-based instrument used for screening brief intervention and referral to treatment. It is not a diagnostic tool; it’s really just a way to take a snapshot of current alcohol use patterns and have conversations around ways to reduce risk associated if someone is drinking outside of the healthy alcohol use outline.”

There are different healthy alcohol guidelines for men and women. Women metabolize alcohol slower than men. This sets the guidelines of consumption for women to be one day a week and no more than three drinks in one sitting while men can drink two days a week with no more than four drinks in one sitting. Breaking these guidelines meets the criteria for binge alcohol use, stated Williams. 

If someone exceeds the daily guidelines for alcohol consumption, the risk for potential health consequences can increase. This includes damage to the heart, liver and immune system.

If a participant felt they may need help after the event, there was a list of referral resources provided including Meridian Healthcare, Travco and Flying High. Williams said a great first step to seeking help if someone does not know who to talk to is to reach out to YSU’s Student Counseling. They will help anyone find a referral that best fits them.

Williams said this is an event they plan to continue in the future to further help students.

“I want to say thank you to all of our campus partners, all the supporters, all the people who’ve wanted to talk to Dr. Bruns and I,” she said. “If you come out, you’ll see how amazing and phenomenal it is and we are really really grateful for everyone’s support.”