The consequences of alcohol use are real. Most people enjoy alcohol safely. For some people, alcohol is fine in moderation. The right approach is to always drink responsibly.
The flip-side of drinking is serious business. The NIAAA released the following annual statistics:
- Sexual abuse on college campuses is rampant. Some 97,000 students (18 – 24) are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
- ~700,000 college students are hurt by an intoxicated classmate
- 25% of all college students get lower grades due to binge drinking
- 150,000 students develop physical and mental problems and 1-2% attempt suicide because of alcohol and/or substance abuse
- 2,000 college students die from alcohol-related injuries
THINK BEFORE YOU DRINK
The time to pause and ponder about your plans to comsume alcohol is before you start. For some, drinking can get out of control once everybody is drinking and having a good time. For some, it can be difficult to stop or control the amont they drink after they have had a few brews.
Being smart means being aware of what is going on in the present. Most alcohol-related injuries and drunk driving situations could have been avoided just by being a bit more conscious and mindful.
Here are 10 suggestions to keep in mind for drinking safely and responsibly. They could save your life, or someone else’s.
- The Buddy System
There’s “safety in numbers”. Make someone the “designated driver”.
- Get Home Safely
Drinking impairs judgment. Don’t drive after drinking or get in a car with someone who has been drinking.
- Know Your Limit
Everyone has a different tolerance for alcohol.
- Not On An Empty
The emptier the stomach, the faster alcohol has its effect.
Most prescription medications have adverse effects when combined with alcohol.
- Obey The Law
Don’t drink if you’re underage, and follow all other applicable laws.
- Drink Water
- Alcohol dehydrates and leach vitamins from the body.
- Pace yourself
- It takes time for alcohol to be absorbed, so its effects are often delayed.
- Know What’s In The Drink
- If you are experimenting with a new drink, take it easy.
- Stop Drinking Sooner Than Later
If you start to feel uncomfortable, it’s a good time to stop.
Harm Reduction – Be Mindful & Aware
Here are some actions which might help prevent or reduce the risks involved with drinking or drug use.
- Don’t leave a drink unattended, it only takes a split second to spike a drink with a date-rape or other substance.
- Setting boundaries is a healthy thing to do, they really work.
- Tell a friend where you’ll be, especially at night
- Offer to be the designated driver
- Seek peers who respect your decision to drink minimally
- Bring your own soda, tea or a “mocktail” to a party
- Pass on “beer pong” or “chugging” games
- Join groups, getting involved is a healthy alternative to “partying”.
Nearly 50% of all full-time students, about 4 million young adults, binge drink and or abuse drugs. Almost 30 percent of that population meeting the criteria for substance use disorders. Research has shown that even aside from alcohol use, the problem of illicit drug abuse is getting worse among college students.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reports some troubling statistics on our college campuses:
- 350 % increase in prescription drug abuse (such as Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin)
- Daily marijuana use has doubled
- 50% increase in the use of cocaine and heroin
- 93 % rise in Adderall and Ritalin misuse and abuse
- Drugs like Xanax and Valium have also gained in popularity
Why The Recent Rise in Substance Abuse?
Anxiety, depression and substance abuse issues are just a few of the unexpected challenges that college students find themselves battling.
Experts agree that there are a number of factors at play. On different websites, colleges are routinely rated for “best party schools,” which proliferates a culture of alcohol and drug use among college age kids. Critics even go so far as to accuse college presidents, deans and other staff of tolerating these abuses and are partially to blame for the poor academic results, mental illness and violence that so often ensue.
Most students admit that “partying,” using drugs and alcohol, is a way to blow off steam and get a break from the stress of classwork. The pressure to fit in and be a part of the fun is also at play, with many young adults saying that those who do not drink or use drugs are ostracized or looked down upon. Studies have shown that female students deal with intense pressure to have sex and often use alcohol as a means of easing their inhibitions, either consciously or subconsciously, in these types of social settings.
The Bottom Line
Across the country, many people consider college to be a rite of passage. It is the first time that some young adults get to a live life free from the watchful eye of their parents and, in essence, take control of their own destinies. The experience is without question an adventure and exercise in independence. While there are those that thrive under these circumstances, others succumb to the incredible pressures their new environment present and are sometimes unsure of how to ask for help.
Though some higher education institutions have programs to help troubled students, there are few campus services available to students who specifically need help with drug and alcohol abuse. Friends, family and loved ones must take the time to check-in with the college students in their lives on a regular basis and make sure that are not suffering from dependency issues. need to take greater steps to promote addiction awareness and provide a path to treatment for those that need it the most.