Friday, October 30, 2020

Alcohol, drug task force reaches out to students

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, four out of five college students drink alcohol. Of those students, half of them consume alcohol through binge drinking.

In addition to alcohol, students also turn to drugs for a variety of reasons, ranging from recreation to coping mechanisms.

Among adults ages 18-25, abuse of prescription drugs is second only to abuse of marijuana, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

To battle what he considers to be rising issues, Plattsburgh State Alcohol and Other Drug Coordinator Patrick Monette has created a community-wide task force, which includes himself, members of the education department, athletics, Greek life, Student Health Center, University Police, Plattsburgh City Police and residence life, as well as PSUC Health Educator and Outreach Coordinator Rhema Lewis and various PSUC students — 12 people in total.

“We’re working on a prevention plan to teach students how to make healthy decisions,” Monette said.

After Monette joined the PSUC staff last semester, he began thinking of ways to more effectively communicate with students on the dangers and health effects of substance use.

This led to the creation of the task force, introduced at the end of September with the announcement of the online tool Haven by PSUC Vice President of Student Affairs Bryan Hartman.

“There are so many underlying issues that contribute to our horrendous culture — the way women are treated, the presence of violence and alcohol and drug use are definitely big parts of that culture,” Hartman said.

Monette agreed, saying that with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent announcement about stricter SUNY-wide mandates in regard to sexual assault, he believes college campuses will benefit from the increase in mandated training, education and prevention plans.

“The (PSUC) campus is in its own bubble, but what we need to do is expose the real problem areas and work toward teaching students how to make safer and healthier decisions,” Monette said.

The recent campus and community forum held at the Newman Center allowed both campus and community members to voice their concerns about students’ substance use and the effects these drugs may have on them.

Members of the Plattsburgh community, who have formed a group, called “Life on the Brink,” referencing Brinkerhoff Street, a notorious area in the town where many students reside and head to on the weekends for parties, spoke at this forum and told students they would like to build a stronger relationship with them instead of stereotyping them as reckless partyers.

Monette said the idea that portrays the idea that there simply may not be enough for students to do on the weekends to offer alternatives to drinking and partying.

For students who are suffering from substance abuse or would simply like to discuss the issue, Monette said making an appointment to talk to him is simple and confidential.

Making an appointment by email or phone call is the easiest way to get in touch with him. Those who may be uncomfortable meeting in his office, located in the Student Involvement Center, on the first floor of the Angell College Center, can also meet with him in a private space that Monette also has access to.

Email Maggie McVey at news@cardinalpointsonline.com.

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