Alcohol and drugs are extremely relevant in today’s college atmosphere. The decision to use drugs, legal such as alcohol or illegal such as marijuana, cocaine or ecstasy, is a personal choice and should not be taken lightly. The Fraternity Standards, federal, state, and local laws as well as health and safety issues should all be considered before the choice is made. The right to abstain from alcohol or drug use is a choice that everyone has, including you.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) two out of five college aged students have reportedly engaged in binge drinking activities at least once in the past two weeks. The NIAAA also estimates that 1,700 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes. Furthermore, about four in five of all college aged students drink.
The misuse or abuse of alcohol or illicit drugs causes many health concerns; therefore, alcohol or drugs should never be used to relax, deal with depression or “de-stress”, nor should the same go for the intent of any social activity. Alcohol and drugs are very addictive; can cause impairment of ability and judgment causing accidents; heart, liver and brain damage. Long-term abuse, accidents or overdose could result in a coma and/or death. Should anyone choose to drink, the choice should be done so responsibly.
People abuse drugs for a variety of reasons. The most common being the psychoactive (mind-altering) properties of the drugs. Peer pressure to experiment, enjoyment from taking the drug or the belief that drugs can solve their problems is several other reasons why people use drugs. A chemical dependency is a realistic possibility with individuals who use drugs or alcohol. There are several symptoms of chemical dependency that are focused around the compulsions to use drugs and alcohol. Compulsions are evident in behavior that is inappropriate, unpredictable, constant and excessive (i.e. drinking before an 8:00 a.m. class).
The four phases of substance abuse are listed below for your information:
- Experimentation. Experiences the effects of transferring from normal to euphoric feelings.
- Compulsion. Growing anticipation of effects; preoccupied with experiencing effects; desires regular use; develops tolerance (requires more of a drug to obtain the same level of effect).
- Delusions. Experiences depressions after euphoria; rationalizes all negative behavior and feelings; experiences blackouts.
- Dependency. Uses chemicals to feel normal. Reality is distorted to the extent that continual use is required to cope with day-to-day living.
Drug and alcohol abuse is prevalent throughout society, thus it is important to understand how to help someone who is experiencing substance abuse. In an ideal situation, no chapter member or guest of the chapter will have a problem with drug or alcohol abuse. Ultimately, intervention is a strong, reliable method for initiating treatment. Should you or other chapter members experience an individual who abuses substances, it is recommended you help that person seek professional help through the University, Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
Helping the IntoxicatedIn the unfortunate chance someone has consumed too many drinks, it is important that the chapter be prepared to handle the intoxicated individual. The tips below are from The Gordie Center, which creates and distributes evidence-based educational programs and materials to reduce hazardous drinking and promote peer intervention.
Guidelines for Immediate Care
In the unfortunate chance that someone has consumed too many drinks, it is important that the chapter be prepared to handle the intoxicated individual. The only way to sober up, is time, however; by offering food, water and a chance to rest could help the individual sober up. When a person passes out, you should monitor his or her breathing to make sure it is normal. Should the individual’s breathing be irregular and has purplish skin tone, try to wake him or her gently. If there happens to be no response, call for emergency medical attention immediately. If there is a listless and sleepy response, put the person on their side to avoid choking should vomiting become an issue. Make sure the individual is comfortable and maintains a regular breathing pattern. Whatever you do, do not leave the person alone. Be sure to have someone monitor the individual until they sober up. If the intoxicated person is in a room on the second or third floor, be sure all windows are closed and locked.
Obtaining Medical AssistanceNever let the fear of legal consequences prevent you from calling 911 or taking an intoxicated person to the emergency room. Many states have Medical Amnesty laws that provide limited legal immunity for seeking help for yourself or someone else who is in need of immediate medical attention. In addition, the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) established a standard that all member organizations maintain a Good Samaritan policy. As a result, the delegates of the 2018 Convention passed the adoption of a Good Samaritan Position. Make yourself aware of your state's medical amnesty policy, as well as the policy on your campus.
For more resources about intervention and knowing the signs of overdose, take a look at the Gordie Center. For more information about alcohol and drug abuse prevention in general, check out the Fraternity Health & Safety Initiative (FHSI) website.
If your chapter is struggling with negative cultures surrounding alcohol and drugs, reach out to your chapter consultant or our Director of Health & Safety Kim Novak at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jarrett M. WayDirector of Educational Content & Strategy