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Alcohol Awareness Week highlights effects on students

Alcohol awareness week is winding down with events today and Friday, but what organizers believe to be the most anticipated event, the Mocktail Mix-Off, has yet to come.

USF’s Center for Student Well-Being organized a series of events  meant to teach students about how to be safe with drinking. The events started last Friday and continue until Thursday.

“The goal of the event is to get students to understand that there are non-alcoholic alternatives that they can use and learn some strategies so if they choose to drink, they can stay safe,” Amy Gatto, alcohol and other drug prevention coordinator, said.

Gatto partnered with campus and community organizations such as Responsible Education and Action for Campus Health (REACH)  on a number of high-risk drinking and substance abuse prevention initiatives.

According to University Police (UP), there are consequences for college students due to alcohol every year, such as 1,825 deaths, 4.86 million drunk driving incidents and 97,000 sexual abuse.

Not only does alcohol abuse affect students’ health and safety, but also their educational conduct. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences such as missing class, falling behind in class and receiving lower grades because of drinking.

UP provides a variety of tips on its annual safety guide on its website.

Other than this ongoing event to educate students on alcohol awareness, the USF Counseling Center offers free assessment and treatment to students who may have alcohol and substance-abuse problems.

Gatto said the most anticipated event of the week is the Mocktail Mix-Off, an event where registered student organizations can sign up to participate with decorative tables and creative names for non-alcoholic drinks that are provided for students. It’s also the last special event planned for the week.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of student organizations that have participated, and the number of students who have attended,” Gatto said. “That’s been really nice to see.”

During this event, there will be a table where students can pick up a blood alcohol concentration card and can learn about what it means to have a high blood alcohol content, how much time is needed after drinking in order to be in a safer zone and more.

There will also be a pouring activity, where students can learn how to measure the amount of alcohol in their drinks to be able to gauge how much they’ve drunk over a certain period of time.

UP will also be involved in the Mocktail Mix-Off to better assist students on the safety steps. Officers will bring out beer goggles to illustrate what certain blood alcohol concentrations feel like and will be talking about the legal ramifications for drinking too much as well as drinking and driving.

Community partner Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office (DACCO) will help provide funding and prizes for the event. DACCO is known for its extensive work in alcohol prevention and treatment in Hillsborough.

After students participate in the event and visit all the tables, including the educational ones, they will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite table and the winning student organization will receive funding from DACCO.

The Mocktail Mix-Off event is sponsored by the Center for Student Well-Being, student organization REACH Peer Health educators and DACCO, and will take place at the MSC Amphitheater on Thursday from 11 a.m to 1 p.m.

“One of the goals of this week is to create awareness on campus of alcohol use. Hopefully this brings to life alcohol use that happens at USF, and also helps students to reflect on their own alcohol use, and how they can do it more responsibly,” Gatto said.