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Hanover, N.H. – On Monday, March 31, DP2 welcomed guest speaker Dr. Linda Hancock (FNP, PhD) to campus. Linda hails from Virginia Commonwealth University where she is the Director of The Wellness Resource Center. She is well versed in communicating with student-athletes in promoting wellness and substance abuse prevention. She has presented at the NCAA APPLE Conferences for the past 25 years.

Over the course of her visit, Dr. Hancock spoke with 250 Dartmouth student-athletes and coaches. Her presentation, titled, “Campbell’s Soup, Frosted Flakes and Sex,” was informative, open-minded and thought provoking. Dr. Hancock uses a variety of interactive techniques and humor to make substance abuse prevention realistic, engaging and fun.  As a scientist and researcher, she likes to use data driven results to solidify her message. Dr. Hancock uses “clickers,” or immediate audience response devices to create an interactive and lively conversation with students to empower them to make healthier lifestyle choices.

Ultimately, Dr. Hancock’s mission is to promote self-awareness about the genetic risk to substance abuse. She has coined the term “genetic snowflakes,” which is essentially a human being; every human being is their own “genetic snowflake.” With one’s own genetic makeup comes the responsibility of recognizing if they are high or low responders to alcohol and other drugs. High responders immediately feel the effects of alcohol and their bodies do not produce the proper enzymes to breakdown the alcohol molecules. Low responders on the other hand, may need five beers to “feel a buzz” and may never experience the hangover effects of a night of partying. It is with information such as this that Dr. Hancock is determined to help arm student-athletes with ways to help themselves and one another. She wants to see students develop social skills, awareness and courage to intervene if a teammate is experiencing issues with alcohol and other drugs.

Dr. Hancock concluded her session by addressing the question, “What is the most devastating drug?” Her answer was not alcohol, prescription medications or street drugs. Rather, the most devastating drug is different for each individual, based on his or her genetic makeup and environment.

We here at DP2 are grateful for the time Dr. Hancock spent with our student-athletes and coaches. The topic of alcohol and substance abuse prevention is often a taboo subject to discuss; yet it is inherently correlated to the athletic and personal successes of all student-athletes.