You Can’t Be An Alcoholic When You’re in College…Right??

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April is Alcohol Awareness Month. About 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking, including missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.

I have heard alcohol is good for you! Is that true?

You may have heard that red wine is good for your heart. However, it is the flavonoids (antioxidants) and resveratrol content in red wine that may be the source of the so called “health benefits”, not the alcohol content. While there has been research done to determine possible health benefits of red wine, there isn’t any hard evidence to lead doctors to begin recommending red wine daily to help protect against heart disease or other medical problems. For the most part, alcohol has been shown to decrease health and most doctors recommend limited amounts of it.

What happens when I drink too much?

Immediate effects of drinking too much alcohol are blurry vision, slurring of words, reduced coordination, slowed reaction time, stumbling while walking/moving, decreased inhibition, and reduced levels of self control.

Alcohol poisoning is a dangerous consequence of consuming too much alcohol. A person with alcohol poisoning may exhibit any of the following symptoms:

  • cold, clammy, pale, or bluish skin
  • unconsciousness or semi-consciousness (can’t be woken up)
  • irregular or slow breathing
  • vomiting while sleeping or passed out

If you find someone or are with someone you suspect has alcohol poisoning you should call 911. MSU has enacted a Medical Amnesty law which states that people under the age of 21 will not be charged or prosecuted if they seek medical treatment as a result of consuming intoxicating substances. You can find the entire policy here: http://www.montana.edu/deanofstudents/alcoholanddrugs.html

Other things you can do to help someone experiencing alcohol poisoning is to turn the person on their side, law one arm above their head and the other across their chest, and prop one of their legs to bend at the knee. This will prevent them from rolling onto their stomach or onto their back, which could be dangerous ti their airways if they start vomiting.

What qualifies as a standard drink?

A standard drink differs, depending on the type of alcohol that you’re drinking.

What is binge drinking?

Binge drinking is continuous drinking within about 2 hours that leads to Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels reaching 0.08 g/dL. This usually happens when women consume 4 or more drinks within 2 hours and when men consume 5 or more.

What is MSU’s alcohol policy?

At Montana State University, alcohol is allowed for people over 21, as long as it is in their rooms or in approved spaces. This means that students living in Residence Halls are allowed to have alcohol in their rooms, as long as it isn’t shared with those who are underage. Open containers aren’t allowed in public spaces in Residence Halls, even if the student is of legal age. Approved spaces on campus that allow for alcohol are generally events that have gone through an approval process with MSU’s administration and may include special dinners held in the SUB, or department events that have proper paperwork allowing the sale and/or consumption of alcohol. Check out the rest of the policy here: https://www.montana.edu/policy/campus_alcohol_drug/index.html

Bozeman also has its own alcohol policy that covers “unruly gatherings” (loud parties), MIPS, and DUIs. Here is the site if you are looking to read the entire policy: http://www.montana.edu/oha/alcohol_drugs/policy.html.

What happens if I get caught drinking on campus and I am underage?

If you are a resident of the residence halls and are caught drinking while underage, generally the Resident Advisors of your building will handle the situation and write an incident report. You will have a meeting with a conduct officer (generally your hall’s resident director or another administrator in Residence Life). They will determine the sanctions for your case, which may include probaion, removal from residence halls, suspension, etc. You will also be placed into an Insight program through the Office of Health Advancement, where you are required to attend mandatory alcohol education classes.

How much does alcohol use cost?

There are many costs associated with alcohol use! According to estimates, college students spend around $5.5 billion per year on alcohol alone. That’s more than they spend on books, coffee, soda, juice, and milk combined!

Alcohol use is also costly for other reasons.

An MIP costs anywhere from $300-$900 plus mandatory community service, depending on how many times it has occurred.

  • First offense—$100—$300 fine, plus fees associated with 20 hours of community service, a community based substance abuse informational course, and any other court mandated sanctions.
  • Second offense—$200—$600 fine, plus fees associated with 40 hours of community service, a community based substance abuse informational course, and possible drug or alcohol treatment.
  • Three or more offenses— $300—$900 fine, plus fees associated with 60 hours of community service, a community based substance abuse informational course, and possible drug or alcohol treatment.

A DUI can cost anywhere between $1,000- $10,000, depending on which offense it is.

  • First offense—imprisonment*, anywhere from 24 hours to 6 months, mandatory education program, and a fine of $300—$1,000.
  • Second offense—imprisonment*, anywhere from 7 days to 6 months, mandatory education and treatment program, and a fine of $600—$1,000.
  • Third offense—imprisonment*, anywhere from 30 days to 1 year, mandatory education and treatment program, and a fine of $1,000—$5,000.
  • Four or more offenses—It becomes a felony. Offender will be sentenced to the department of correction for placement in an appropriate correctional facility or program for a term up to 13 months, and a fine of $1,000- $10,000.

What is Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?

AUD is commonly known as Alcoholism and occurs when an individual has uncontrolled and problematic drinking. The following may be signs that an individual is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder:

  • Increased tolerance and the need to drink more alcohol to feel the same effects that you used to.
  • continuing to drink even though it was causing problems with family and friends
  • experiencing a strong need, craving, or urge to drink
  • Continuing to drink even though it was making you depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem
  • Trying to reduce or stop drinking, but finding that you can’t

Alcohol and Sex

If someone is intoxicated they can not give consent.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that of all sexual assault cases, one half of the cases involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both parties. To reduce the likelihood of sexual assault, it is important that students understand the effects of consuming too much alcohol and that it is important to know your drinking limits and stay within them. It is also important to watch your drink to make sure nobody has access to it avoiding spiking it with something unfamiliar or dangerous, go to parties or social events with people you trust, and to say no when you feel uncomfortable. Read more about safe sex in our article Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby.

Resources at MSU and in the Bozeman community:

The Center for Recovering Students: http://www.montana.edu/oha/recovering_students/

Services: The Center for Recovering Students (CRS) is a place for students to get involved in sober activities and in their community. Their mission is to, ” improve the academic, professional, physical and social well-being of recovering students, faculty and staff. “

Location: 1106 S. 6th Ave., Bozeman MT 59715

Telephone: 406-994-5937

Alcohol and Drug Services of Gallatin Valley:

Services: This is a non-profit focused on providing services to those in recovery and getting them connected with things like outpatient treatment programs, prevention education, and connecting people with community service.

Location: 2310 N. 7th Avenue, Bozeman, MT 59715

Telephone: (406) 586-5493

Gallatin Mental Health Center: http://www.gallatinmentalhealth.org/services/

Services: GMHC is able to provide counseling and psychiatric care to those who want to include therapy in their recovery plan.

Location: 699 Farmhouse Lane

Telephone: (406) 556-6500

Alcoholics Anonymous: https://www.aa-montana.org/meetings.php?city=Bozeman

Services: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) provides group sessions where those in recovery can meet and talk about their journey.

Location: Check out the Montana AA website to keep up to date with meetings happening near you. https://www.aa-montana.org/meetings.php?city=Bozeman

Want to learn more? Here are some helpful websites!

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

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