SAAC team prepares to influence students

Authored by Jim Langham on Jan 25, 2013

South Adams student Maddie Graber is much more aware these days of the effects of drug and alcohol usage on the lives and health of those around her.
“It’s really sad the way that drugs and alcohol affect people,” Graber said in connection with a conference she attended at the McMillen Center for Health Education in Fort Wayne.
Fourteen members of the South Adams Substance Abuse Awareness team attended a three-hour alcohol, drug and tobacco prevention training seminar at the health education center.
Training focused on how bodies work, how using alcohol, drugs or tobacco affects bodies in the short term and the long term effects of their use.
Those topics covered included your body and alcohol, hangovers, binge drinking versus daily drinking, women and alcohol, long-term effects of alcohol abuse, the effects of drugs and alcohol on health and fetal alcohol syndrome.
Graber said the information will be helpful in starting a middle school SAAC team and in helping working with young students in understanding the dangers of drug, alcohol and tobacco usage.
“I learned things I didn’t know,” said Klayton Hinshaw. “I learned how women suffer more from drinking. I learned how drinking can affect your liver. I didn’t realize how bad that drinking could destroy your liver.
Women who drink have a greater chance of developing liver damage, brain damage, heart disease and breast cancer.
“Alcohol affects women differently than men,” said Hinshaw. “Women will suffer damage sooner than me; damage to a woman’s body will be more severe than to a man’s body.”
“It gave me more knowledge about what to say to people when I talk to them about alcohol and drinking,” continued Hinshaw.
Hinshaw was impressed with the effect of drinking on the brain, especially the way it can start causing brain damage in heavy drinkers at age 18.
In addition, alcohol immediately affects the brain’s ability to control behavior and body functions.
Other topics discussed included the fact that about 160,000 people a year die from lung cancer, which is more than the number of deaths from colon and rectal, breast and prostate cancer combined.
Those teaching the seminar emphasized the harmfulness of smoking to pregnancies such as damage to the baby’s body, due to the fact that nicotine can reduce the baby’s supply of oxygen.
Smoking more than doubles the risk of stillbirth, premature delivery, low weight birth, heart defects and learning disabilities. In addition, drinking can contribute to fetal alcohol syndrome.
“I mainly don’t drink or use drugs because I care about my health and I care about my family,” said Graber. “We are close as a family; I am happy with the family that I came from. This is one of the things I stand for and I want to be a role model to those around me.”

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