By Julio Sanchez
The Students Against Substance Abuse club is committed to saving lives, empowering individuals and strengthening communities by raising awareness on the effects of substance abuse and addiction.
Substance abuse is a problem that has affected millions of people worldwide and has caused health and social problems for the abuser, as well as for the people close to them.
Substance abuse can occur with drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines, but it can also occur with substances like tobacco, alcohol, and even sugar.
According to the World Health Organization website, at least 15.3 million people have drug use disorders and 120 countries report HIV infections caused by injecting drugs into the body.
“Substance abuse is a war that’s never going to stop,” Leonel Escobar, outreach coordinator for SASA, said. “I believe a better way to attack this problem is to bring attention and awareness to it.”
The mission of the club is to promote awareness of drug abuse, drug addiction and related issues, and to encourage treatment.
The club aims to achieve this by sponsoring private and public forums and by doing community outreach events throughout the year.
SASA offers its members a place where they can receive the help and information they seek. The club also offers information on how people can get a certificate in jobs such as Recovery Specialist, Chemical Dependency Counselor and Chemical Dependency Specialist in Criminal Justice.
“I like that there is a substance abuse club because I, myself, have struggled with substance abuse,” ELAC student Sarah Perez said “It makes me glad to know that there are people out there who really want to help.”
They also work with elementary to college-aged students in order to bring such crucial information that can help them at a time when they need it the most.
The club tries to conduct outreach programs throughout the community as much as possible and are currently working with fourth, fifth and sixth graders from Hamasaki Elementary School. SASA teaches the young students about the importance of positive choices.
The club also plans to get more students and the community involved by hosting a barbeque with students and their families in the near future. They are also involved in a Christmas card campaign, where ELAC students write a Christmas card for an adolescent in treatment or in a youth camp.
Lisa M. Vartanian, director and advisor of the addiction studies and the SASA club, wrote in an email stating “We also provide messages of hope to people in treatment settings. We have many outreach opportunities scheduled, but we are always open to doing more. If there is something that is needed, just contact us and we will be there.”
The Students Against Substance Abuse club meets every Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 6:50 p.m. in F7-226.