1 - PARTY TIME… where the action is
2 - ALCOHOL…odorless, colorless, tasteless - and potentially dangerous
3 - DRINKS…beer, wine, liquor - what’s the difference
4 - RISKS…so what’s the big deal
5 - ACQUAINTANCE RAPE…removing the shroud of secrecy
6 - ADDICTION…physical, chronic and progressive disease
7 - INTERVENTION…if not you, who? If not now, when?
8 - FAMILY ISSUES…why does it still hurt
9 - RECOVERY…one day at a time
10- GREEKS, WOMEN AND ATHLETES…special concerns
11- SPRING BREAK…a good time is had by all - maybe
12- ADVERTISING…this Bud’s for you
13- OTHER DRUGS…alcohol is not the only danger
14- GET INVOLVED…contributing to a safe and healthy campus
15- SUCCESS…it’s up to you
I now realize that freshman year I was making some really high-risk choices. When I think back to my three-nights-per-week drunken stupors, I’m horrified. I cannot believe I had no clue as to the damage I was inflicting on my body. My grades suffered, I nearly got arrested and I gained twenty-five pounds. I even altered my schedule to accommodate my drinking. It scares me to think I did this. Now, because I’ve cut back drastically on my drinking, my grades have significantly improved, my attitude is health oriented and I completely lost my beer weight.
Yvonne J., Franklin Pierce College junior
I know some people who have been here five or six years and still drink every weekend for entertainment. I think this is why they’ve been in school so long.
Joe U., University of Florida senior
I was drinking big time. I received a 1.5 that semester, and to top it off I got arrested and had to pay about three hundred dollars worth of fines.
Seth J., Manhattan College junior
My Dad always told me to profit from others’ mistakes. But I needed to learn myself. And it cost me. My freshman year is just a big blur. Academically I, shall we say, was not fully engaged. It took me a couple of years of lousy GPAs to learn what was more important – partying or good grades.
Carla A., Pennsylvania State University senior
I used to party throughout the week. After my freshman year, I cut down. I’m lucky I didn’t get kicked out. My GPA was 1.4, but the forgiveness policy helped me get it up to a 2.0. What a shock. I was an honor roll student in high school.
Mike M., Keene State College senior
Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights were all I looked forward to. Schoolwork wasn’t even at the bottom of my list.
Cindy V., Keene State College junior
Each year alcohol is implicated in more than 40 percent of all academic problems and 28 percent of all dropouts.9 Research indicates that, on average, college students who drink the most alcohol earn the lowest grades. Students with D or F grade point averages report consuming an average of 10 drinks weekly, C students average 8 drinks weekly, B students average 6 drinks per week and A students average 4 drinks per week.10 Yes, there are students who can “party hard” and still maintain an A average, but they are the exception to the rule. Most students who drink at a high-risk level experience academic problems.
Alcohol consumption can affect your grade point average for a number of reasons. High-risk drinkers miss more classes due to their drinking. After all, it’s quite difficult to sit through an hour-and-a-half lecture while dealing with a severe hangover. National research indicates that 21 percent of students who binge drank* had fallen behind in their schoolwork, and 30 percent had missed class because of their drinking since the beginning of the school year. Among frequent binge drinkers – students who had binged three or more times in two weeks prior to the survey – 46 percent had fallen behind in schoolwork and 60 percent had missed class because of their drinking. Only a fraction of non-binge drinkers fell behind in their studies or missed class because of drinking (6 percent and 8 percent, respectively).11 I suspect many high-risk drinkers also submit projects late due to their lifestyle choices. It’s difficult to keep up with schoolwork when your primary concern is which party will have the most kegs.
Finally, and most importantly, many students believe that as long as they don’t drink the night before an exam, alcohol consumption will have no impact on their test-taking ability. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s why: our brains are made up of millions of nerve cells that transmit messages through an intricate series of chemical and electrical impulses. The sensitive chemical balance necessary to keep this neurological network operating is disrupted by the presence of alcohol. And this chemical imbalance caused by the alcohol remains even after the alcohol is metabolized. Research indicates that this chemical imbalance can last for up to thirty days after the alcohol has been metabolized, even when a person is completely sober.12 This imbalance impairs our abstract thinking skills. Those are the skills needed to bring two separate thoughts together in order to develop a third concept. So, the bottom line is drinking can possibly impair our abstract thinking skills, resulting in impaired test-taking ability even thirty days after consuming alcohol. _________________________________________________
*A binge is defined by researchers as five or more drinks in one sitting for men, and four or more drinks in one sitting for women. One of the problems with this definition is that it does not take into account the period of time during which the drinking took place. For the purposes of this book, whenever referring to a binge, it will refer to the aforementioned definition. Both the definition of binge as well as the use of the term have been called into question by many alcohol education and abuse prevention specialists and certainly deserve further analysis.
My mind became as dark as the night. I was at the party and the next thing I was back in my dorm, in the girls’ bathroom no less, throwing up. That’s all I remember. I’m not quite sure what happened between the party and then back in the dorm.
Mike L., Plymouth State College sophomore
At breakfast my friends laughed at me when they first saw me. Then they told me about what a fool I had made of myself. I didn’t remember any of it.
Chris C., University of Massachusetts sophomore
I can remember when I experienced a blackout after a long afternoon of drinking. Apparently I made a blatant remark about a girl’s physical features and she was embarrassed and upset. I had no recollection of it until her friends told me about it. I was so disappointed in myself. I couldn’t believe a remark like that could come out of my mouth. I eventually apologized for my behavior.
Raphael D., Boston University junior
A blackout is a form of alcohol-induced amnesia. Do not confuse this with passing out or fainting. While a blackout is happening, the drinker is conscious yet unaware that he or she is in a blackout. Those around the drinker are also unaware the drinker is blacking out. Although obviously impaired, the drinker appears to function ordinarily, but after sobering up cannot recall some of the people or events from the night before. It’s usually not until the next day when the previous night’s “war stories” are being shared in the dining hall that the drinker realizes a blackout occurred.
The exact cause of a blackout is still unclear. Apparently, the neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for maintaining memories for some reason cease functioning. We don’t know how much or how often a person needs to drink in order to experience a blackout. However, we do know that most, but not all, alcoholics have experienced blackouts. More importantly, we know that you do not need to be an alcoholic to experience a blackout. A blackout places you at risk for a serious impairment problem and indicates that a serious alcohol problem has developed or is developing.
One other point regarding blackouts: many people mistakenly say, “I never get so wasted that I have a blackout.” You do not need to be “totally wasted” in order to experience a blackout. Slight impairment alone can cause a blackout. The primary contributors to a blackout tend to be drinking too much too quickly and/or drinking on an empty stomach.