Warning: This Newsletter is designed to stimulate your thinking about alcohol. It does not advocate prohibition, but care and attention to yourself and those around you.
Our Challenge: To do so in a way that does not bore you, make you roll your eyes, or feel that you have heard all of this before.
Your Challenge: To widen your view of this topic and issue. This may mean feeling a sense of accomplishment for having read this far, adding one new piece of information to what you already know, or having questions to think about in the future.
In the next few years, with or without knowing it, you will be making many crucial decisions about what you and your life will be like in the future. How alcohol and other substances fit into your life will be one of those decisions.
Alcohol is a part of ALL of our lives. Here’s what some Pace students say about drinking at Pace.
What do you think new college students should know about drinking in college?
- "How too much can hurt you. Know when you have had too much."
- "Wait until you are 21."
- "People at Pace have DIED because of drunk driving!!"
- "Everyone just about does it but only those who do it in moderation will get through."
- "Alcohol is present in the majority of settings. Therefore, take that into account and decide your limits before attending."
How easy is it for people to get alcohol and drink?
- "Very. Some stores don’t I.D."
- "Very easy."
- "Extremely easy."
- "Not particularly easy."
- "Fairly easy. There are always upper classmen willing to ‘lend a hand’."
- "It’s easier than getting dinner."
- "No one segment of the Pace population is immune to drinking, but perhaps the sports’ teams and the Greek organizations are most prone to it."
- "All people."
- "Almost everyone."
- "95% of campus."
- "Everyone but me."
Describe the range of drinking behaviors.
- "Casual to lush."
- "Some people I know never drink. However, most people will have a drink or two. Others drink a lot. Depends sometimes on their mood."
- "Violent to humorous."
- "There are some who simply go out to be social and have a couple of drinks and there are others whose main goal is to become brain-dulling drunk."
- "Moderate to occasional."
- "Drink until you’re drunk- there is no other way."
Describe someone you know who has a problem with alcohol.
- "He can only have a good time if he is drunk and has very little interest in activities that do not involve alcohol."
- "Will not hang out socially unless beer is present."
- "Always drinking."
- "If you have to ask yourself if a friend has a drinking problem, he does."
What do you think would be helpful to Pace students who may need to do some more thinking about alcohol and the role that it plays in their lives?
- "Maybe contact a group that does plays and they can illustrate the effects."
- "Shut down bars that serve underage kids."
- "Have them try to imagine their lives without having alcohol a part of it."
- "Student mentors."
- "Have them meet someone who killed someone else when they were driving drunk or had a friend who died because of alcohol."
How does alcohol fit into your life?
"Drinking was the best way I knew, the fastest and the simplest, to let my feelings out and to connect... with another human being. ... I was an easier stronger version of myself, as though I had been coated from inside out with a warm, liquid armor...The amazing thing was how effective the drink was, how easily you could uncork a sense of well-being, how magical it was- magical!"
Caroline Knapp, Drinking: A Love Story
All people who use alcohol do not abuse alcohol. However, one of the hallmarks of alcohol abuse and alcoholism is the inability to accept or recognize that you may be in serious trouble. Friends or relatives of alcoholics may also have trouble recognizing the seriousness of the problem.
What is alcohol abuse?
When drinking begins to hinder a person’s social, emotional, professional, financial, legal, or physical well being, it is considered ALCOHOL ABUSE. The four most common patterns of alcohol abuse are:
- Daily drinking of large amounts of alcohol
- Heavy social drinking
- Drinking large amounts of alcohol at certain times, like weekends
- Periods of not drinking followed by periods of heavy drinking lasting days, weeks, or months
What is alcoholism?
If alcohol abuse is not treated, it can progress into alcoholism. When drinking becomes physically or psychologically addictive, it is considered ALCOHOLISM.
Warning Signs for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
- Needing alcohol to cope with strong positive or negative feelings
- Driving a car while under the influence of alcohol
- Gulping drinks to feel the effects more quickly
- Becoming angry or depressed while drinking
- "Blacking out" or not remembering what took place while you were drinking
- Neglecting people and events that don’t involve drinking
- Using alcohol to relieve stress or sleeplessness
- Being able to handle larger and larger amounts of alcohol over time
- Having a few extra drinks when others won’t notice
- Being uncomfortable at occasions when alcohol is not available
- Wanting to continue drinking when others say you have had enough
- Feeling a little guilty about your drinking
- Being secretly irritated when someone talks to you about your drinking
- Having a reason for the occasions when you drink heavily
- When sober, regretting things that you have said or done while drinking
- Failing to keep promises about controlling or cutting down on drinking
- Having the shakes and finding that it helps to have a little drin k
- Eating very little or irregularly when you are drinking
- Having an increasing number of work, family, social, or school problems
" One morning you wake up and open your eyes. Your head feels like it weighs way too much... Your brain hurts... You feel mildly nauseated and you can’t tell if you need to eat or eating will make you sick... Next to you in bed is a man. Perhaps you know him, perhaps you don’t."
Caroline Knapp, Drinking: A Love Story
If you or someone you know exhibits any of the above, seek help. See "Where to Get Help" below.
Imagine sitting in a restaurant and seeing the guy next to you drinking an entire six-pack of soda in one sitting. Pretty strange, huh? Now imagine that person drinking a six-pack of beer in one sitting.... What do you think about that? Most college students watch or participate in this behavior without a second thought.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) state that:
- For males, social scientists define binge drinkers as someone who has five or more drinks at any one time within a two-week period.
- For females, the consumption rate is four or more drinks at one sitting during a two-week period.
The Baccus and Gamma Peer Education Network reports that:
- 44% of U.S. college students engaged in binge drinking during the two weeks prior to being surveyed.
- Students who are active in athletics are 1-1/2 times more likely to binge drink.
- Binge drinkers were 16 times more likely to miss class, have unprotected sex, damage property and get injured than non-binge drinkers.
- Between 75% and 90% of all violence on campus is drinking related.
Binge drinking may result in alcohol poisoning, which is a medical emergency. People with the following symptoms cannot help themselves and it is up to you to get immediate medical attention for them:
- Unresponsive to someone talking or shouting at them
- Unresponsive to being shaken
- Unable to wake up
- Unable to stand up
- Slow, loud, or unusual breathing
- Purplish skin
- Clammy skin
Sometimes students may be affected by the alcoholism of someone at home. The Children of Alcoholics Foundation estimates that 6.6 million children under the age of 18 live in a household where there is at least one alcoholic parent. Of the students who come to Pace’s Counseling Center, roughly one third report some history of alcohol or drug problems in the family. People who come from families where there is alcoholism, as you probably know, have an increased risk of having their own alcohol, drug, and other addictive problems .
Professionals working with adult children of alcoholics have identified four family roles that children of alcoholics may take on:
The Family Hero
- Usually the oldest child
- Does well in school
- A leader who is admired, serious, mature, and seems to have it all together
- Doted on by relatives and teachers
- Helpful at home
- Underneath feels inadequate, not good-enough, scared, guilty, and lonely
- Does poorly in school
- May try to compete with the hero but loses out, then stops trying to please family and friends
- Rebellious and angry, may withdraw
- Seen as a "screw up," puts on a "tough act," hangs out with a similar peer group
- Uses alcohol and other drugs
- Underneath feels like a misfit and left out in the family, wants attention, feels lonely, guilty and hurt
The Lost Child
- Quiet, shy, often goes unnoticed
- Loner, ill-at-ease with others
- Tries not to be a bother
- Few or no close friends
- Underneath feels forgotten and different, like an outsider
- Class clown, happy-go-lucky
- Has a lot of energy
- Likes the focus to be on him/herself
- Underneath feels fearful, anxious, confused, and unsure
Like any categories, these are not hard and true and may be somewhat artificial. However, parts of these descriptions may sound familiar to you.
Does someone close to you has a drinking problem?
Al-Anon is a program for relatives, families, and friends whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking. Their local number is (914) 946-1748.
Family and friends often try to "help" people who may have problems with alcohol.
Here are some definitions to consider:
Helping is doing something for someone that they are not capable of doing for themselves.
Enabling is doing something for someone that they could and should be doing for themselves.
Sometimes when we "help" someone who has a substance abuse problem (or any other problem for that matter), we make it easier for them to avoid the consequences of their drinking and actions. In our protection, the person with the problem is subtly encouraged to continue their behavior since they have learned that someone will always help rescue them from their mistakes.
Here are some example of enabling behaviors:
- Telling amusing stories about the drinker or others who drink a lot.
- Speaking admiringly of the drinker’s ability to hold his/her drink.
- Suggesting that the drinker attend activities where alcohol is being served.
- Offering drinks to the drinker.
- Making excuses for the drinker’s behavior while s/he is drunk or drinking.
- Saying the drinker behaves better when drinking.
- Tending to alcohol-related injuries or putting the drinker to bed after s/he has been drinking.
- Bailing the drinker out of jail and/or paying drinking-related legal fees.
- Taking responsibility for waking the drinker in the morning after s/he has been drinking so that s/he would not be late for work or class.
- Calling in sick for the drinker and lying about his/her symptoms.
- Reassuring the drinker that his/her behavior while drinking was not all that bad.
Often people who are in relationships with problem drinkers:
- accept part of the blame for the drinking or resulting behavior
- threaten to leave and do not keep giving the drinker "one more chance"
- fear talking to the drinker about their drinking
Getting Ready To Speak Up
It is not easy to help a drinker face responsibility for their drinking and its consequences. However, it is a crucial step for everyone involved in the drinker’s life.
Here are some steps to take as you consider discussing someone’s drinking behavior with them:
- Educate yourself about drinking or other drug abuse by contacting a knowledgeable source (i.e. the counseling center, a hotline, the internet, clergy, local AA groups)
- Consider how you will approach the drinker with your concerns. Any of the above resources can help you with this.
- Choose an objective, nonthreatening approach that does not moralize, blame, or attack.
- Predict that the drinker will not like what you have to say.
- Stick to the facts and give concrete examples of the problematic behavior.
- Know where you can refer the drinker for help if s/he asks. See the "Where To Get Help" below.
- Expect that addressing this problem will be a process for you and the drinker. It may take several discussions.
- Know that your success is in the act of speaking up and not enabling this behavior. You can take no more responsibility than that.
If you choose to drink, decrease your risks by...
- Eating before you drink.
- The food will absorb some of the alcohol.
- Don’t quench your thirst with alcoholic drinks.
- They make you thirstier.
- Try water.
- Sip, don’t gulp.
- It’s just as cool.
- Choose drinks with vegetable or fruit bases.
- Water and carbonated mixers increase impairment.
- Alternate alcoholic with nonalcoholic drinks.
- Limit your drinking (e.g. one drink per hour, no more than 1-2 drinks per day)
- Don’t succumb to peer pressure that encourages you to drink more than you want
- Choose to be involved in activities where alcohol takes on a different role or none at all
Many students at Pace believe that there is more to college life than drinking. Unfortunately, their voices are too soft and not collective. Consider connecting with others like yourself and forming such a group on campus.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can be effectively treated, especially when treatment is sought early.
Some resources include:
- Pace University Counseling Center
- Alcohol and Other Drug Assessment, Treatment and Recovery Resources - NYC (PDF)
- Alcohol and Other Drug Assessment, Treatment and Recovery Resources - Westchester
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- Adult Children of Alcoholics
- Marijuana Anonymous
- Narcotics Anonymous
- SAMHSA National Helpline
- Sober Grid App
I went to a party, Mom,
I remembered what you said.
You told me not to drink, Mom,
So I drank soda instead.
I really felt proud inside, Mom,
The way you said I would.
I didn't drink and drive, Mom,
Even though the others said I should.
I know I did the right thing, Mom,
I know you are always right.
Now the party is finally ending, Mom,
As everyone is driving out of sight.
As I got into my car, Mom,
I knew I'd get home in one piece.
Because of the way you raised me,
So responsible and sweet.
I started to drive away, Mom,
But as I pulled out into the road,
The other car didn't see me, Mom,
And hit me like a load.
As I lay there on the pavement, Mom,
I hear the policeman say,
"The other guy is drunk," Mom,
And now I'm the one who will pay.
I'm lying here dying, Mom....
I wish you'd get here soon.
How could this happen to me, Mom?
My life just burst like a balloon.
There is blood all around me, Mom,
And most of it is mine.
I hear the medic say, Mom,
I'll die in a short time.
I just wanted to tell you, Mom,
I swear I didn't drink.
It was the others, Mom.
The others didn't think.
He was probably at the same party as I.
The only difference is, he drank
And I will die.
Why do people drink, Mom?
It can ruin your whole life.
I'm feeling sharp pains now.
Pains just like a knife.
The guy who hit me is walking, Mom,
And I don't think it's fair.
I'm lying here dying
And all he can do is stare.
Tell my brother not to cry, Mom.
Tell Daddy to be brave.
And when I go to heaven, Mom,
Put "Daddy's Girl" on my grave.
Someone should have told him, Mom,
Not to drink and drive.
If only they had told him, Mom,
I would still be alive.
My breath is getting shorter, Mom.
I'm becoming very scared.
Please don't cry for me, Mom.
When I needed you,
You were always there.
I have one last question, Mom.
Before I say good bye.
I didn't drink and drive,
So why am I the one to die?
~A poem from MADD