Alcohol Summit spreads positive word

The second annual Alcohol Summit was held this weekend in the Lowman Student Center. The program, sponsored by the SHSU Alcohol and Drug Abuse Initiative, was a two-day seminar outlining the many dangers of substance abuse.

Although attendance last year was higher, the student turnout was significant, especially considering the non-mandatory enrollment. The variety of classes and activities over the course of the weekend kept attendees engaged as well as enlightened on the multi-faceted nature of alcohol.

Nearly 100 students participated on Friday to begin a national certification process, as part of the peer-to-peer training track. These students could eventually become Certified Peer Educators through the BACCHUS Network.

Participants received a t-shirt and other freebies upon registration.

“A lot of students came out both days- people were very excited about passive program of LSC so they can see every aspect of alcoholism” said, Lisa Joyner, Event Volunteer.

Although the event was hosted by the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Initiative, the Summit was a collaborative effort between many organizations on and off campus.

Members from various local police authorities, lecturers, M.A.D.D., Sam Houston faculty, and student volunteers offered time and services. Students played a part in running the event, as well as the volunteer attendees.

“Not only the faculty stepped up to the plate, it was the students as well, a lot of student volunteers”, Joyner said.

The Alcohol Summit incorporated various styles of teaching, including passive programming, various sessions, peer-to-peer work, and a comedian. Participants had the opportunity to learn about all aspects of alcoholism, especially coping with the problem on a college level.

“[I most enjoyed] the peer- to- peer role playing, showing us how to deal with friends, teaching us how to use contact for different things just in case I ever needed it” Pete Thurman, sophomore, said.

Passive programming was an important aspect of the Summit. The area around the classrooms was filled with booths reiterating the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.

One particularly touching presentation was “Dirty Laundry”, a project started last semester. The display featured pieces of cloth covered with student’s personal alcohol related tragedies and anecdotes.

“It is one of the most visually powerful things we’ve done with the alcohol and drug abuse initiative” Health Programming Coordinator Michelle Lovering said.

One of the 20 sessions was called, “Reaching Others Through Teaching, Tragedy and a Personal Touch”. It featured speaker Susan Wagener, a Traumatic grief counselor for MADD and Griefshare.

Susan Wagener and her husband Bodie, both alumni of Sam Houston, are featured on the inside of SHSU’s 21st birthday cards. These cards, which are mailed to all Bearkats on their 21st birthday, is in memory of their son, Michael Wagner.

Her son was about to begin his senior year at Texas A&M University. Michael had a designated driver for his 21st birthday, and headed out to College Station’s Fitzwilly’s around 9:00 p.m. There, he drank some beer from a pitcher.

From 10:30 to midnight, Michael and his friends consumed pitchers of beer at the Dixie Chicken. Despite the fact that he grew up playing dominoes, his was having difficulty playing correctly.

At midnight, his friends bought him some shots from Coup de Ville. Within 30-45 minutes, Michael’s friends had bought him as many as eight to nine shots, including a free one from Coup de Ville.

“Michael told his friends twice that night to stop buying drinks for him,” Susan

Wagener said. “By the time Michael was taken home, his body began shutting down.”

The next morning, at about 7:00 a.m. Michael’s mother called to wish him a happy birthday. The call woke up his friends, and ten minutes later, they dialed 911.

“Michael never woke up,” Wagener said. “It was a lethal dose.”

Michael’s BAC was .485, nearly six times the legal amount, at the time of his death.’

The Alcohol Summit also featured comedian Bernie McGrenahan. His educational-awareness tour “Happy Hour”, which reaches over 100 colleges and high schools each year, begins with 30 minutes of hilarious comedy. Then, he turns his attention to alcohol, an issue prevalent on school campuses.

In the 9th grade, McGrenahan was a straight-A student. He began to drink, and his grades slowly slipped from As to Bs. By his junior year in high school, he had steady C’s in all of his classes.

“I left high school with a C/D average, and I blew my chance for a baseball scholarship,” McGrenahan said.

McGrenahan received his first DUI at the age of 18. He appeared in court, was fined $500 and ordered to take three months of alcohol classes. Even during these classes, he insisted he did not have a drinking problem.

During his second year of college, he received his second D.U.I. McGrenahan had five to six beers, and this time was 10 miles away from the bar. A cop pulled him over

for going 8 mph in a 65 mph.

By this time, he was drinking three to four nights a week while regularly cutting classes. At his court date, McGrenahan was fine $1.000 plus six months of alcohol classes.

He dropped out of college and returned home. Bernie noticed his younger sibling Scott began showing similar behavior by cutting classes, falling grades in school, drinking, and smoking pot.

In response to Scott’s behavior, Bernie tried to convince his brother to change his ways. After a heated argument, Bernie left the house and headed for a bar. After a few drinks, his sister Debbie called. Something was wrong.

He arrived at his house to find three police cars, an ambulance, and 50 curious neighbors standing outside of his house. Debbie ran outside and threw her arms around McGrenahan. Scott had killed himself.

McGrenahan’s friends drove him to a bar, and he drank more alcohol. Four months later, he received his third DUI. He skipped his court date and nearly two months later decided he was through with alcohol.

Two months later, McGrenahan showed up on April 14 to face his case that was four months overdue. He ultimately ended up with six months of jail time, for violating his probation from his second DUI and missing his court date for the third.

While in jail, his mother was the only person that would visit him each weekend. “I love my mother to death,” McGrenahan said. “She is my hero.”

During one visit, she began to weep as they talked on the phone through a glass pane. McGrenahan made a promise that day. “Watch me mom,” he said. “Watch me rise.”

He is now 19 years sober. “I am reliable to my friends today,” McGrenahan said. He is currently a guardian to his younger brother Sean, Scott’s twin) who was born with a speech and learning disability. At the conclusion of his comedy show, McGrenahan said, “I’m just a guy up here telling the truth.”

For more information on the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Initiative, please go to

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