Stop: Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse is an issue on college campuses.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 37.9 percent of college students participated in binge drinking in 2015. 

Assistant Director of Programming and Outreach for the University Counseling Center Annette Newton-Baldwin gave insight on students drinking.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about the college culture and drinking being a rite of passage,” said Newton-Baldwin. “Actually, students who have more of a self-care focus tend to have more successful outcomes with retention and meeting academic goals.”

University Police Lieutenant Patrick Gipson shared the alcohol-induced crimes that worry him the most.

“Most sexual assaults involved alcohol use by one or both parties,” said Gipson. “Some of the fights that we’ve had to deal with around campus have involved alcohol, but not all of them. There is some underage drinking that we’ve encountered on campus, and we’ve had to take legal enforcement action on that. The ones that worry me the most are sexual assault and domestic violence.”

Death caused by drunk driving has also been regarded as a prominent issue in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “every day, 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This is one death every 51 minutes.”

Gipson explained the difference between being pulled over driving drunk versus being pulled over while driving sober.

“The violation that draws the attention of the officer is separate from driving while intoxicated,” said Gipson. “So, if you’re caught for speeding and you are found to be intoxicated, you’re charged with two separate crimes, one speeding and the other driving while intoxicated. The speeding charge is not enhanced in any way. It’s still a speeding charge. The intoxication while driving charge would be an addition to the speeding ticket.”

Gipson added that different people have different alcohol tolerance levels.

“When it comes to driving while intoxicated, it doesn’t matter how you feel,” said Gipson. “It matters what your blood alcohol content is. So, even if you feel fine, if your BAC is 0.08 or higher, you still get charged with the DWI. If you’re under 21, you only have to have a 0.02 or higher to be charged with a DWI, which means one drink for most people.”

Newton-Baldwin gave input on how to detect signs of alcoholism.

“Your friend may be able to drink large amounts of alcohol without getting drunk,” said Newton-Baldwin. “This increased tolerance is also a clear symptom of alcoholism. It’s not the amount of alcohol or drugs that matters, it’s whether his or her drinking or drug use is causing her problems with family, friends, career, finances or legal matters.”

Newton-Baldwin admitted that if someone were to help a friend recovering from an addiction, they should approach their friend with “love and concern.”

“Even if your friend appears to be highly functioning in school, managing a job, they can still have a serious addiction problem,” said Newton-Baldwin. “Help at this stage can save them considerable pain and loss since it’s just a matter of time before their life falls apart.”