Counseling Center screens for alcohol awareness

The SHSU Counseling Center will host Alcohol Awareness Screening Days on April 8-9 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on the main floor of the Lowman Student Center. The event’s goal is to help students become aware of the affects of alcohol on themselves and the people around them.

“We will be providing short screening tools that students can fill out that will tell them about their alcohol behavior, and whether or not they may have a problem,” said Pamela McManus, a faculty member in the SHSU Counseling Center.

McManus said there will also be information available during the event for students who want to find out more about the risks of alcohol abuse, change their drinking habits, or help friends change their habits.

“The purpose of this event is to heighten students’ awareness that alcohol can be a problem if too much is used,” McManus said.

She said the majority of students on the SHSU campus do not drink, but it is important for students that do use alcohol to remember that their actions affect not only themselves but the people around them as well.

McManus said another activity during the screening days will be a simulation given by the University Police Department. Students who participate in the simulation will be given special goggles that will simulate what it is like to be drunk. While a student has the goggles on, one of the UPD officers will administer a simulated sobriety test to that person.

Using alcohol can result in a number of legal problems, particularly if the student is caught driving under the influence or is using alcohol while under the legal drinking age.

Officer James Fitch of the Huntsville Police Department outlined some of the penalties that can result from drinking while driving or from drinking while under 21.

Fitch said if people under 21 are caught driving with even a trace of alcohol in their systems, they will be issued a citation for “Driving Under the Influence”, a Class C Misdemeanor. He said this is like a speeding ticket, but will result in the driver losing his or her driver’s license.

Fitch said all drivers, even drivers under 21, who have a blood alcohol content above .08 will be given a citation for “Driving While Intoxicated”.

Fitch said this is a Class B Misdemeanor, and can result in anywhere between six months in jail and two years of probation. The person’s driver’s license will also be taken away.

Fitch said if the driver refuses to be tested with the intoxilizer, the driver’s license can be taken away for 180 days. If the driver agrees to the test, the driver’s license is only taken away for 90 days.

McManus said there are many precautions students can take in order to drink alcohol without abusing it.

“One way students can drink responsibly is to remember to only sip the drink they are given at an event instead of trying to become drunk.” McManus said.

She said another way to drink responsibly is to not participate in drinking games where people try to out-drink each other.

“When people start playing chug-a-lug games, they run a greater risk of being irresponsible with alcohol,” McManus said. “Also, people should not drink in order to solve their problems. They should find other resources and ways to cope with them.”

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