June 18, 2019 | 68° F

Rutgers sorority attends drug awareness presentation

Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

Earlier this week, members of Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA) sorority participated in a presentation and Q&A session about methods for preventing drug addiction. The event focused primarily on addiction risk factors that are heightened by the college environment.

In an effort to fight drug and alcohol abuse on campus, a program was presented to the sisters of Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA) at Scott Hall on April 17.

The program was presented by Frank Greenagel, a professor at the Rutgers School of Social Work, a drug and alcohol counselor, along with David Jam, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

The talk began with an animated presentation by Greenagel followed by Jam sharing stories. The two gave a Q&A, said Rachel Schier, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and organizer for the program.

Schier said she asked her boyfriend, Greenagel, to speak to her chapter because she is the director of risk management on the executive board for ZTA.

“My role is to help educate the chapter about things like alcohol and drug abuse, as well as ensure everyone’s safety during chapter functions and monitoring social media,” Schier said.

Jam said he met Greenagel while they were working together through the residential recovery program on campus.

Jam said the two have known each other for years and have given the same presentations for high schools and at the University for a course Greenagel is involved in.

“I’ve done presentations all over the country and for a few Rutgers—Newark fraternities and for all of the greek life at NJIT over the years,” Greenagel said.

The goal was to spread the message about addiction in the prospect that it will help at least one person identify a problem in themselves or a loved one, Schier said.

She said she wanted her sisters to hear this story because she hoped that it would impact them the way it impacted her.

“I thought it was really eye opening to hear someone’s story. It was really inspiring to hear that recovery is possible,” said Andrea Mazzola, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore and ZTA sister.

The planning of the event was fairly informal except for reserving the lecture hall in Scott Hall in advance, Schier said.

Usually, chapter meetings are held at the house, she said. She decided to use the lecture hall instead because the meetings at the house can be crowded. For this event, she wanted everyone to get the full experience.

“I thought a lot of the facts they gave us were shocking but useful and the speaker was great and really funny,” said Sara Laitusis, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and ZTA sister.

The most important thing Greenagel touched upon was the “spectrum” of abuse, from mild to severe. He named 11 signs of abuse, Schier said.

He also talked about how due to the people we surround ourselves with, certain behaviors become “normalized,” she said.

"What 'normalization' means is that people surround themselves with people that use (drugs and alcohol) so people abusing alcohol and drugs will often think they are normal or fine because everyone else around them is acting the same way," Greenagel said.

Drinking culture in greek life is especially prominent, Schier said. People feel that binge drinking to the extent that they do is normal.

Jam said his goal was not to talk anybody out of drinking but to give them insight as to what they should do if they come across a friend or family member who is struggling. 

"Many people are not fortunate enough to have the financial resources or their families might not have the knowledge and people then slip through the cracks and never get the help they need to survive, have meaningful employment or become a healthy and contributing member of society," he said.

An issue Greenagel touched upon, Jam said, was that opiate painkillers are being extremely overprescribed and have become an epidemic.

Greenagel talked about Adderall and the problems of the “rebound effect” which means a user is worse off than they were before they took it.

Adderall is the third most abused drug on campus after marijuana and alcohol, and has a massive social acceptability on campus, Greenagel said.

This program is important because fraternities and sororities have the highest rates of abuse compared to the rest of the student body, he said.

“I think the program was very well received. Truthfully, I was a bit nervous that people wouldn't take it seriously because it's hard to really get through to a group of college kids about drinking,” Schier said.

The event went 20 minutes overtime because people had such great questions, Schier said. A lot of people told her how much they loved it afterward.

Greenagel brought along an expert perspective because he is a subject matter expert when it comes to this matter, he has a ton of credentials and is very well respected in the addiction community, Jam said.

“The girls were really good sports about it. I was expecting people to be on their phones, not to be into it, not to ask questions at the end but it was exactly the opposite of the way I thought it would go,” he said.

There were about 75 ZTA sisters in attendance and the vast majority paid attention, Greenagel said.

Jam said that any opportunity he has to make a difference and to put himself in the position where he could help someone else, he takes.

“There’s still a lot of stigmas and bad information and ultimately a lot of people when they’re put in a position where they should probably confront somebody or get somebody help they don’t have the resources, they don’t have the knowledge and as a result, people are needlessly dying,” Jam said.

Brielle Diskin is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.

Brielle Diskin

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