National Women’s History Month

For those of you who don’t know, March is National Women’s History Month. Now why would a counselor bring up National Women’s History Month to write about, you may be asking? I know you think that I am going to write about Jane Addams, the mother of social work. Nope, my focus will be on Carrie Nation, the mother of the hatchet.

Carrie Nation was one of the first women to become active in the Temperance Movement in the late 1800s-early 1900s. Her first husband had been an alcoholic who died at the age of 29 from alcoholism, leaving Carrie who was 21 at that time, and the mother of an infant daughter.

His death and Carrie’s “divine calling” led her to smashing saloons all over the country. From 1900 to 1910, Carrie was arrested 30 times for destroying saloons with her hatchet. Carrie stood nearly 6 foot tall and weighed around 180 pounds and wielded a powerful swing. She was known for the phrase, “smash, ladies, smash.” Carrie became a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which later on took on societal issues such as health, hygiene, prison reform, and world peace.

Today we still have very important women who are champions working in all of these areas. The difference is that women working in the field of substance abuse, prevention and treatment, no longer carry hatchets. I certainly don’t carry a hatchet in my role as the Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Coordinator here on campus. My role here on campus is to assist students who may or may not be referred because of alcohol concerns or infractions. My role is to assess and educate on the effects of alcohol and drugs on the student, the campus, and society at large. Another part of my job is to assist people who drink, to drink responsibly.

When someone drinks or takes drugs to excess, there are many factors that need to be addressed. First of all gathering usage history–how their usage affecting them, how it is affecting their school work and university demands. Are there health issues to consider? Is there a family history of substance abuse?

It is my belief that people do not make positive changes in their life if you are mentally beating them down, (today’s version of the hatchet). Positive changes come with positive reinforcement, education, and knowledge. Are you concerned about your alcohol consumption?

Are you concerned about someone else’s usage of alcohol? April is Alcohol Awareness Month. The Counseling Center conducts an alcohol screening in April each year. I am located in the Human Relations Building, room 64, if you just want to stop by and obtain more information concerning alcoholism or substance abuse. I promise, I don’t have a hatchet.

By Valerie Gebhardt