By: Melissa Colleary
Annually, Alcohol Awareness Month is celebrated in April with the goal of decreasing the stigma associated with alcoholism by encouraging conversations about recovery and the impacts that alcohol can have on the body. This year, The Long Island Association for AIDS Care, in partnership with Pride for Youth, a service and an advocate for LGBTQ youth, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, sponsored a Movies and Mocktails event. This event was an alcohol free evening that focused on showing youth alternatives to drinking alcohol in social situations.
This event was inspired by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence’s “Alcohol Free Weekend” that takes place annually during the month of April. The Alcohol Free Weekend invites individuals to partake in a three day sobriety campaign. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume five or more drinks, and when women consume four or more drinks, in about two hours.
The Movies and Mocktails event had four key components: education on binge drinking, sex, and the risk factors of drinking and driving by both LIAAC and MADD; a demonstration on how to make alcohol-free cocktails or “mocktails”; games that taught participants about the dangers of having sex under the influence of alcohol; and a film.
Participants were informed about the services that MADD provides to victims of drunk driving accidents and were educated about the harmful effects of alcohol. According to state data, Suffolk had 853 alcohol-related crashes in 2013 — more than 10 percent of the state’s total — of which 51, or 14 percent of the statewide total, were fatal. Nassau had 548 alcohol-related crashes in 2013, of which 26 resulted in a fatality. Newsday reported that at least 354 people of all ages died from drinking too much alcohol from 2010 to 2015. MADD’s presentation focused on how their organization helps victims and their families, for example, advocacy for victims, introducing victims to each other as a means of support, and providing a space for tributes where family members of victims can tell their stories as a way to put a face behind a drunk driving statistic.
Attendees were offered samples of alcohol free cocktails, or mocktails, such as alcohol-free mint juleps, alcohol-free margaritas, and an Arizona sunrise, which is made with orange juice, lemon-lime soda, and grenadine. Of the three beverages, the mint juleps were the crowd favorite. Although skeptical at first, those who sampled the mocktails soon started to get excited about opportunities to replicate them at social events in the future.
Games such as “dry pong”, “what’s in your bag?” and “drunk condom” were played, all with the intention of teaching about the sexual health risk factors associated with alcohol in a fun way. Dry pong and drunk condom were the games that drew the most attention, with competitions forming to see who could answer the most questions and who could correctly put on a condom the fastest. While the activities were created to incite fun, they also were meant to show the negative effects that alcohol may play in placing one at sexual risk.
The Movies & Mocktails event featured the documentary film “The Hunting Ground,” provided by Pride for Youth. This documentary focused on the stories of students who are survivors of rape on college campuses. More than one in every six freshmen women are raped during their first year at college while too drunk or drugged to fend off their attacker, a new U.S. study reports. This documentary served as a way to educate participants on the dangers of drinking as well as inform them on ways to protect themselves and others from these kinds of attacks. Popcorn was served during the movie and attendees were extremely engaged in the film, with many staying to discuss shocking and enlightening moments that they enjoyed while watching.
This event was an incredibly fun experience for all involved. Those who attended expressed their excitement for future events of a similar nature.
To view pictures from our Movies & Mocktails event, go to our Facebook page at https://facebook.com/liaac.inc