It’s no secret that drug and alcohol abuse continues to be one of the leading causes of criminal activity, injuries and death among young adults. Two groups in Hunterdon and Somerset counties have joined forces to educate young adults about the dangers of substance abuse, while offering safe and healthy alternatives.
The BACCHUS (Boosting Alcohol Conscientiousness Concerning the Health of University Students) Club at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) is comprised of student peer educators who promote healthy and safe alternatives to the use of alcohol and other drugs. The Safe Communities Coalition of Hunterdon/Somerset works toward creating a safe and healthy community by eliminating drug use, underage drinking and prescription drug abuse.
The collaboration of these two groups was a natural fit. Both groups work closely with RVCC, with similar missions. Input from BACCHUS members has assisted the Hunterdon/Somerset Coalition in its efforts to enact community-level change regarding substance abuse among 18 to 25 year-olds.
According to Amee Smolinsky, BSN, RN, Safe Communities Coalition Health Educator at RVCC, and catalyst for the partnership, the RVCC BACCHUS Club connects the Safe Communities Coalition to the young adult population of Hunterdon and Somerset counties. “The Club provides insights into student behaviors, perceptions and opinions regarding the use of alcohol and drugs,” explained Smolinsky. “Club members also provide information to the RVCC student body about local Safe Communities Coalition initiatives, such as prescription drug take-back days and drop box locations.” Smolinsky said the Club was instrumental in spreading the word about the Overdose Protection Act, which grants immunity to individuals seeking medical assistance for someone who has overdosed.
Nina DiMarco, BACCHUS incoming president, credits the Club for opening her eyes to the importance of peer-to-peer education. “I was used to talking to younger kids and trying to prevent them from using drugs,” said DiMarco. “With the knowledge I have gained through the Club, I can educate peers my own age and emphasize that, as college students and young adults, it is critical to think about our actions and the consequences of drugs and alcohol use.”
The following pictures show BACCHUS Members assisting the Safe Communities Coalition at various events.
Caption: Members of the BACCHUS Club of RVCC manning the Safe Communities Coalition table at the Far Hills Race.
Caption: Members of the BACCHUS Club of RVCC talking to new RVCC students.
T-shirts created by the BACCHUS Club include the logo for the Safe Communities Coalition on the sleeve.
The goal of the Safe Communities Coalition is to foster a safe and healthy community by eliminating drug use, underage drinking and prescription drug abuse. Through widespread community collaboration, environmental change, and community education in Hunterdon and Somerset counties, the Safe Communities Coalition addresses areas of concern including, but not limited to, reducing Rx drug abuse across the lifespan, underage drinking, tobacco, marijuana, heroin, and other drug use. For more information on the Coalition, visit our website at www.safecoalition.org or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SafeCommunitiesCoalition, Twitter@HunCOKnowINFO or Instagram at safe communities.