Research Symposium in Nicaragua
The Beauchamp Foundation invited Dr. Eric Wagner, director of FIU-BRIDGE and professor in the School of Social Work, and Ana Maria Rodriguez, project coordinator of FIU-BRIDGE, to visit Nicaragua to speak about the dangers of underage drinking. The Beauchamp Foundation is a non-profit organization that concentrates on developing and implementing projects aimed to improve living conditions, alleviate poverty and support communities in need.
Dr. Wagner was asked to be the keynote speaker at the Primer Simposio sobre Prevención y Uso del Alcohol en Adolescentes (First Symposium on the Prevention of Alcohol Use among Adolescents) in Managua. The symposium was the first collaboration between FIU-BRIDGE and Act Support Alcohol Prevention for youth (ASAP) . The symposium examined the risks of alcohol consumption among adolescents including the psychological, social and physical consequences.
Based on their experiences, panelists shared what they considered the main problems related to adolescent alcohol use in Nicaragua. They also talked about approaches that have and have not worked when addressing adolescent alcohol use.
Dr. Wagner discussed the dangers and effects of binge drinking. He explained how excessive alcohol consumption could cause neurological damage relating to one’s attention span, concentration and the ability to use and understand information. He also emphasized the importance of parents openly discussing the risks of drinking with their children.
“We met with a wide range of Nicaraguan stakeholders ranging from teenagers to parents to government officials. All were quite concerned about youth and were open and ready to implement evidence-based strategies. We are looking forward to working with them more in the future,” said Dr. Wagner.
In the course of their visit to Nicaragua, Dr. Wagner and Rodriguez were invited to visit two local substance abuse treatment facilities: HODERA Rehabilitation Center in San Marcos and Centro de Especialidades para Adicciones (CEA) in Managua. The purpose of the visits was to learn about the substance abuse and prevention work conducted in Nicaragua. The clinics discussed the services they provide to the populations they serve.
They also had the opportunity to speak directly to over 200 middle school and senior high school students from two large bilingual educational institutions in Managua. Both schools’ students, faculty and administration were welcoming and enthusiastic participants in the meetings they hosted. Based on the participants’ reports, they learned a great deal about the risks associated with teenage drinking and evidence-based strategies to reduce drinking problems among teens.
You can find the link to a Nicaraguan newspaper article about the symposium here.