When the Hanover Cares Coalition uses the intoxiclock® Pro to teach adults how their bodies metabolize alcohol, there’s another group of advocates that is helping to share this information with parents and adults in the community: teenagers. The coalition, which is based in Ashland, Virginia, has a youth coalition called Teens Care Too that helps advocate for alcohol and drug awareness and prevention, and assists with prevention outreach among peers and throughout the community. As they use the software to show adults they may be more impaired when they drink than they believe, the teenagers are learning valuable facts. “It’s given them that real-life concept of the true impacts of alcohol: If I have these drinks when I’m 21, this is how it’s going to affect me,” says Octavia Marsh, MPH, Executive Director of the coalition.
Octavia and her coalition members are focused on preventing youth from using drugs and alcohol, but many of their education efforts are aimed at adults, as well. One of their most popular recurring events is “Hidden in Plain Sight,” during which they work with a host church to set up a teen bedroom and allow adults to look for signs of alcohol and drug use. Some of the indicators strategically planted around the room include a belt (which can be used as a tourniquet for injections), a lottery ticket (which can be used as a spoon for heroin), and a bottle of sunscreen (which can be used to hide alcohol).
Because the Hanover Cares Coalition attracts so many people to these events, it uses the opportunity to set up resource tables to educate the community about alcohol and drug use and abuse — and the intoxiclock® Pro has been a perfect fit. The software allows adults to enter their gender, age and weight in a real-life scenario that shows what their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) would be if they consume a certain amount of drinks. They can even choose the specific type of alcohol they will consume in the scenario. “People are generally shocked by their BAC,” says Octavia. “We always try to have a conversation with them after we run their numbers through software. We tell them, ‘If you are having this one cocktail and it takes your body 2 ½ hours to metabolize it, will you be at the restaurant that long? Or will you be driving under the influence of alcohol?’ It gets people thinking.”
Using interactive materials — such as those from Innocorp — empowers others to deliver the prevention message and encourages conversations. To that end, Hanover Cares received funding to purchase these materials through a Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority Education and Prevention Grant. With the grant, the coalition was able to have Innocorp provide an on-site training session for many of the company’s products in March 2018. Ten people from Hanover County — including Hanover Cares Coalition board members, school intervention counselors, law enforcement officers and other community members — learned how to use the Fatal Vision® Alcohol Simulation Goggles, the intoxiclock® Pro, Smash Match® Impairment Challenge, and the D.I.E.S. (Danger in Every Step) Balcony Danger Mat. “I’m the only staff member for the coalition,” says Octavia. “Everyone else is a volunteer or works with our community partnering organizations. Our coalition has these wonderful products, and by maximizing those in our community who are trained, it helps our outreach. We now have many people who not only know how to use the materials, but also how to comfortably talk about the prevention of underage drinking as well as responsible drinking for those over age 21.”
Octavia keeps all the products at her office, and the local schools and other community groups check them out for use when they need them. The items that are checked out most often are the intoxiclock® Pro — which school counselors use for professional staff development — and the Smasch® Impairment Challenge. Smash Match® is a timed activity that involves the matching and placing of simple traffic-related shapes on a mat, first without, and then with, the impairing effect of the Fatal Vision® Alcohol Simulation Goggles. Teens love the game, Octavia says, because it’s fun to play, but allows for an educational opportunity to carry forward the coalition’s prevention message. Counselors and teachers love the game because it’s teaching a powerful lesson about the difficulty of performing basic tasks when under the influence of alcohol. Smash Match® has been so popular, in fact, that Octavia recently ordered another game and set of goggles, so she has a total of two that can be shared among the county’s four high schools.
The Hanover Cares Coalition brings Innocorp products everywhere it goes — to a big family carnival before the first football game of the year, to summer events, and to community expos. Because Octavia and her volunteers are spending their time at the events, they want to make an impact — and they feel like offering interactive activities reaches more people than just handing out brochures. “We want people to be thinking about their experiences at our table the next time they go out for a drink,” says Octavia. “It’s all about education and prevention, and these resources help us to make an impact in our community.”