New Addition to Main Campus Educates Students about Alcohol Use

January 21, 2010

New_Addition_Main_Campus Saint Leo University now has a specialist working on the main campus full-time to help educate students about the risks and hazards of alcohol abuse. The addition of the specialist to the campus community is complemented by the introduction of a new educational software program on myths and facts about alcohol use––all with the overall goal of helping students develop healthy living skills for their college years and beyond.  

Heather Lavoie, a specialist with Baycare Behavioral Health Systems, now works on the main campus. She has an office in Henderson Hall. It is accessible from the exterior first-floor door near the volleyball court.She meets individually with students and is available to make presentations to student organizations, athletic teams, residence halls, and can be reached at heather.lavoie@saintleo.edu or at (352) 588-8372.

Lavoie already has met with advisors in residence halls to give them some guidance on talking to peers about alcohol.

Lavoie said her goal is to create a positive dialogue with students––and to provide them with accurate information about alcohol. The notion that “everybody drinks,” Lavoie said, “is a myth, but a lot of college students believe that.”

Discovering that can help underage students, or even students who are 21 or older, resist peer pressure to drink or to drink excessively when they really don’t want to. It can also help them realize that they can find and make friends who have fun without drinking.

“I also want them to be aware of the negative aspects of alcohol,” Lavoie said, “including the dangers associated with heavy drinking, and drinking and driving, and how this affects individuals and the campus community.”

Lavoie encourages individual students to come and meet her to talk, and to take with them the health and wellness information she can provide.

She also will meet with students who have been referred to her because of a disciplinary issue where alcohol was a factor. Lavoie can also refer individuals to the Counseling Services Office in DeChantal Hall, Extension 8199, when warranted. (Click here a direct link to counseling services.)

In addition, Lavoie will be working with a community coalition, Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention, to keep abreast of local efforts in our surrounding community to diminish alcohol abuse. 

Saint Leo has been able to bring this alcohol education program to the main campus without having to create any added expense for the university.

Lavoie’s salary is underwritten by a grant awarded jointly to Saint Leo and to her employer, Baycare Behavioral Health Systems, and to Pasco-Hernando Community College. Her position is funded for three years. The same grant also paid for access to a self-guided, educational software program called AlcoholEdu that has been completed by more than 70 percent of the current freshman class.

Photo: Heather Lavoie