D.A.A.W.G. program to spread alcohol abuse awareness

The Student Health Center is taking a new approach to educating Fresno State students on alcohol safety—and it’s called D.A.A.W.G.

D.A.A.W.G., short for Drug & Alcohol Awareness & Wellness Guide, is a new program by the Health Promotion & Wellness Services Department at the Student Health Center.

The previous program, called The Alcohol Safety Council Student Sub-Committee, was absorbed by D.A.A.W.G. earlier this year.

The old program had numerous problems, such as poor structure management and inconsistent membership, said grad student Rosendo Iñiguez, D.A.A.W.G. program coordinator.

“I wanted to continue what we were doing with the Safety Council but make it more structured and more of a commitment and hopefully make a bigger impact on campus,” Iñiguez said.

The goal of the program is to promote awareness of alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse, and to prevent alcohol- and drug-related incidents among Fresno State students, Iñiguez said.

Though the program is designed to cover all types of substance abuse, Iñiguez and the other members of D.A.A.W.G. are currently working on ways to spread alcohol abuse awareness.

“We don’t discourage drinking,” Iñiguez said. “We simply want to give students the tools and skills, so that if they decide to drink they do it in a way that doesn’t harm themselves or harm others.”

Iñiguez said the program is designed to prevent alcohol poisoning, drunk driving and other alcohol-related situations derived from its abuse.

D.A.A.W.G. has partnered with professor Rebecca Barnes’ Graphic Design 174 class, which has created many of the colorful posters located around the Fresno State campus, Iñiguez said.

Iñiguez said the posters are designed to clear the misperceptions students may have on the amount of alcohol that their peers consume.

“It’s really to let them know what’s going on around campus,” Iñiguez said.

The program is designed to focus on all students, however one of its primary targets are incoming freshmen, said senior Elizabeth Lopez, D.A.A.W.G. member.

“It’s the first time being away from home, so they have more freedom and they’re more peer pressured into drinking,” Lopez said.

The program reaches out to students, such as those in the dormitory community, Lopez said.

Lopez said D.A.A.W.G. members went to dorm halls to educate students on alcohol awareness. Program members also involved students in a “Pour Me a Drink” game, where students were asked to pour one drink of alcohol.

Lopez said that some students were pouring what they believed to be one drink, but were actually pouring four times the established amount as classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s not what you drink,” Iñiguez said. “It’s how much you drink that counts.”

Partnering with University Student Union Productions, program coordinators hosted a free movie night in February at the Student Satellite Union, said senior Crystal Macias, D.A.A.W.G. member.

Before moviegoers watched a screening of “Puss in Boots,” D.A.A.W.G.s handed out bags with facts and safety tips, and the students were shown a slide show where they were asked to fill out a questionnaire to hand in at the end of the film, Macias said.

Those who handed in the filled-out questionnaire were given a raffle ticket, which gave them the chance to win gift cards to Starbucks and Target.

Iñiguez said that he wants D.A.A.W.G. to be a place where students suffering from substance abuse or addiction can reach out to for help.

“We don’t necessarily treat them, but we do want to refer them to different services or to facilities on or off campus,” he said.

Kathleen Yarmo, health promotion and wellness services coordinator, said one of the services D.A.A.W.G. will refer students to the psychological services at the Student Health Center, where students suffering from substance abuse can begin treatment.

Iñiguez said D.A.A.W.G. is working on a designated driver program. The finer points of the program are still getting figured out, he said, but if implemented it will give designated drivers a bonus for staying sober.

Students who sign up will be given a card that they carry around in their wallet. Iñiguez said he wants to partner with local bars and restaurants, which will offer free non-alcoholic drinks or discounted food to the card-carrying designated driver.

“Our goal is to hopefully encourage the use of a designated driver and to prevent drunk driving, DUIs (and) car accidents,” he said. “We want to keep our students safe.”

Currently there are six members of D.A.A.W.G., but Iñiguez hopes to recruit more in time.

Being a D.A.A.W.G. member is a one-semester commitment, and Iñiguez encourages anyone who would like to enlist to go to the Health Promotion & Wellness Services Department at the Student Health Center.

“The D.A.A.W.G. program is a good opportunity for students to get not only experienced in health education but also make a difference on campus,” Iñiguez said. “It’s a good opportunity to reach out to students who want to make a positive change in students’ lives.”

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