President Obama names October National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

Kirsten Edmunds

 On Oct. 3, President Barack Obama deemed October to be the National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Back in 2011, October was the National Youth Substance Use and Substance Use Disorder Prevention month.

 According to the website, the definition of substance abuse is the use of chemical substances that lead to a increased risk of problems and an inability to control the use of the substance. It also stated that in 2009, 23.5 million people aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or an alcohol abuse problem.

 Trying to make people aware of this issue and provide more information, Prevention First, a nonprofit training and resource center out of Springfield, Illinois reaches out to schools and communities to help them make groups and find ways to decrease substance abuse.

 Karel Hormig is the executive director of Prevention First and believes October is a good month for Substance Abuse Prevention because of all the football, homecoming and Holiday events that happen around then. She says it is a ripe
time for alcohol and drug abuse.

 “It’s a good time to look at what you can do to start having that conversation or re-engaging in that conversation with our young people about the harmful consequences of excessive alcohol use and using illicit drugs, or using prescription drugs inappropriately,” Hormig said. “It works best when it comes from people who are in your community or passionate about the issue and are willing to come together and take a stand and take action on it.”

 Hormig said there is a lot this campaign will assist with and hopes more people will help them help others.

 “This is just an annual recognition or acknowledgment of the very important role that substance abuse prevention plays in our community,” Hormig said. “There’s a lot that we are working to prevent, including under-aged drinking, definitely non-medical use of prescription drugs, particularly those that are opioids but there are others too, as well as illicit drugs.”

 Some students at Western Illinois University were unaware it was Substance Abuse Prevention Month but still had
something to say about the issue.

 Athletic training major Kelly Crowley said substance abuse is a very serious matter but knows there are ways to help with it.

 “Education is the best way to help people make decisions about anything, especially substance abuse,” Crowley said. “Seminars and classes with that focus would be helpful to keep people in the loop about what substance abuse really
is and how it changes people.”

 Brock Myers, a law enforcement and justice administration major, said it is good to be aware about this topic and thinks there are many different options for people to do instead.

 “So many people use alcohol and drugs to the point where they think it isn’t a big deal,” Meyers said. “I think people have the power to choose whether drugs and or alcohol affects their lives. It is easy to find something else to do or to drink instead of doing drugs or alcohol.”

 Communications major Nicole Trafton believes that there are substance abuse issues in schools and worries that
people do it for the wrong reasons.

 “I believe that substance use is very common especially on college campuses,” Trafton said. “People in college are willing to go far and beyond to ‘have a good time,’ even if it does mean harming their own body. People might not understand all of the risks.”

 At Western Illinois University there is an Alcohol and Other Drugs Resource Center where students can receive information, treatment, substance abuse counseling, DUI evaluations and DUI early interventions. They are open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Seal Hall room 208. They also have a phone number students can call at 309-298-2457.

 Those who want to get more information or want to try and start a substance awareness program can visit the Prevention First website at