Two campus services marked National Alcohol Screening Day by offering information and free alcohol usage tests Thursday.
To inform students on campus about alcoholism, representatives from Student Health Service and Counseling and Career Services offered educational pamphlets and written self-assessments for alcohol problems at an information table outside of Counseling and Career Services from ll a.m. to 3 p.m.
Ian Kaminsky, director of alcohol and drug programs at Student Health said National Alcohol Screening Day is an opportunity for people to better understand their relationships with alcohol.
“People can get feedback and put it into context; it gives people the opportunity to compare their typical behavior [with alcoholism] and get feedback,” Kaminsky said.
The information table was open for students to take assessments about their alcohol usage. Kaminsky said the test’s confidentiality was imperative for the hosts and participants because people need to feel secure when assessing whether or not they have a serious problem with alcohol.
Alcohol and Other Drug Clinician for Student Health Service Jackie Curta said about 80 people came by the table, 75 of which took assessments. Each person received information on alcoholism, and the majority of the participants scored in the middle range.
“We were successful in identifying a few high risks and were able to assist those people in getting additional help,” Curta said.
Some of the questions listed on the assessment were: “How often do you have a drink containing alcohol?”, “Have you or has someone else been injured as a result of your drinking?” and “Has a relative or a friend or a doctor or other health worker been concerned about your drinking or suggested you cut down?”
Members of Students Teaching Alcohol and other Drug Responsibility (STAR) and counselors from Student Health scored the tests at the table, looking to see where people’s responses fit within certain guidelines. Scores were categorized into three levels, with scores ranging from zero to 23. A score of eight or below indicated normal to moderate use, and was considered healthy. A score of nine to 18 meant there should be some concern about the person’s alcohol consumption. Any score over 19 represented a high possibility of an alcohol abuse problem.
Kaminsky said such tests are rarely scored in front of the participants, but he said he thought the method was valuable because it gave immediate results and told participants how they stand compared to their peers. The counselors on hand also offered to address any questions or concerns people had regarding their results or alcohol usage in general.
National Alcohol Screening Day is observed annually throughout the country, not just on college campuses, Kaminsky said. Alcohol usage tests are available year-round at most healthcare facilities, but on this day local providers make them available to the public for free, giving people who may have severe problems and people who are curious about where they stand a chance for evaluation.
Kaminsky said the purpose of the event was not intended to prevent students from drinking, but to warn them about the dangers of using alcohol excessively.
“We promote moderate and responsible use [of alcohol] for those who choose to use, and encourage those who choose not to,” said junior sociology major and STAR member Jessica Buttafuoco.
The National Alcohol Screening Day event was last held at UCSB in 1999. It was re-implemented this year in response to an e-mail Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware) sent to universities around the country encouraging administrators to hold the event.
Kaminsky said 1,400 college students aged 18-24 die each year from unintentional injuries due to alcohol, and that a UC Berkeley student died last week from playing drinking games. He said 25 percent of college students reported academic consequences from drinking, such as missing class and falling behind with their work.
Junior political science and philosophy major Kris Daams said he stopped by the table out of curiosity.
“I didn’t start drinking much until I moved into I.V.,” Daams said. “I guess it’s a good thing that I came to the table. I think every student should come by this table because of the alcohol that’s prevalent in Isla Vista.”
Chris Nava, a sophomore music major, also took a self-assessment.
“I was sure that I was going to score under an eight, but I got a 15, which in turn brought concern and prompted me to learn,” Nava said.
Curta said students could get additional counseling from any of the Student Health Service or Counseling and Career Services advisors at any time.