Category: Substance Abuse (page 1 of 2)

An Endless Issue

Walking into the archives section, I did not expect to find much related to alcohol abuse. I was wrong. Much to my surprise, there were a number of newspaper articles dedicated to the struggle of students facing legal trouble due to alcohol consumption. These articles dated back to the 60s and 70s and many were published in the Sandspur, Rollins’s own newspaper. This shows how applicable the issue of alcohol on college campuses has been to the community for decades. Back then it was an issue, and remains an issue today. One would think that if the college has been dealing with something like this for so long that it would have found a solution by now, but it is clearly not that easy. The author shows passion for the topic, claiming that the law allowing only those over 21 years of age to drink significantly limits the social capabilities and bonding between members of fraternities and sororities. The author also claims that without the ability to drink with one another, they will instead have to “twist their thumbs and wiggle their toes and chew on a piece of straw.” Personally this made it seem as though members of Greek life are almost dependent upon alcohol in many of their social gatherings. Both then and now, alcohol serves as a basic component of many parties. This emphasizes the significance that the college needs to find a way to deal with this and keep drinking behaviors of their students under control. It has been a long time since this article was published, though it clearly does not mean that a solution to this issue has been found.

Schmidt, S. “New Revolutionary Movement Challenges Enforced Drinking Laws.” Sandspur, 2 Dec. 1964.

Room for Improvement

For a normal individual who does not suffer with alcohol abuse, it is easy to avoid going overboard. They can stick to a few drinks in a social setting without feeling dependent on alcohol. The social norm of avoiding overconsumption is enough to keep these individuals under control, however, this is not the case for those with alcohol dependence. Most college educators make the assumption that educating students about what is considered a normal amount of alcohol is enough to keep them from going overboard. As the current article mentions, however, this method cannot be relied upon when it comes to students with alcoholism. The article suggests new methods that college campuses can take towards alcohol prevention education. For example, it suggests that college campuses include more screening methods to identify high-risk students and provide programs specific for them. The suggestions in this article are valuable for my final paper because they not only address issues with the current mode of alcohol prevention on college campuses, but they suggest new methods for improvement. If I decide to argue that current alcohol prevention programs are ineffective, it is imperative that I have alternative suggestions to improve these programs.

Jung, J. R. “Changing the Focus of College Alcohol Prevention Programs.” Journal of American College Health, vol. 52, 2003, pp. 92-95.

Education = Prevention?

The discussion as to whether or not alcohol education programs are effective remains controversial. While previous studies mentioned on the blog have discussed the significant number of college students that recover from such behaviors on their own, the number of these behaviors that could have been prevented in the first place has not been mentioned. According to the current study, first-year students who completed AlcoholEdu education program were less likely to be involved in an alcohol-related crisis than those who failed to complete the course. This may indicate that these programs are effective at preventing high-risk behavior among first-year college students. However, it may also be an indication that students who are not motivated enough to finish the program will not take the process seriously. This provides valuable information on the implications of educational programs. They may be effective, but I feel that colleges should provide some sort of incentive so that all students complete the program. Otherwise, only those who feel strongly enough about alcoholism will put in the effort to complete the program, though they are already more likely to be aware of their behaviors in the first place. Making education courses mandatory could be beneficial in decreasing the amount of alcohol abuse among first-year students.

Abrams, G. B., Kolligian, J., Mills, D. L., & DeJong, W. “Failure of College Students to Complete an Online Alcohol Education Course as a Predictor of High-Risk Drinking That Requires Medical Attention.” The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, vol. 37, 2011, pp. 515-519.

College Policy

In a recent email sent out to all Rollins College students, faculty, and staff, the requirements of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act were included in a linked brochure. Udeth Lugo, the Director of Institutional Research, sent this email to acknowledge the updated requirements and to remind all members of the Rollins College community that it is important to uphold the expectations of this act. In this link, there are three main points that are addressed. These include educational efforts, counseling and rehabilitation services, and sanctions for illegal drug-related activities. This brochure provides valuable information for my paper because it addresses the specific Rollins College drug and alcohol policy. It is important that I understand this information in order to evaluate Rollins on the effectiveness of this policy and determine whether or not I want to argue for changes.

One of the key points that stood out to me is the statement that Rollins will provide an educational program with the goal of preventing drug and alcohol sales and abuse. This program will include information on the health and judicial consequences of such acts. However, I am not confident that this educational program will be much of a benefit in reaching the long-term goal of eliminating drug and alcohol abuse on campus.  In my opinion, most if not all students, faculty, and staff are well-aware of these consequences. It seems that pushing additional information at them will not help prevent a problem, but perhaps only bring about awareness and remind the community that this problem still exists on campus.

Alcohol/Drug Abuse Brochure for Rollins College Students, Faculty and Staff. Rollins College, 2016.

No Need For Treatment?

Similar to the article written by Misch that was previously posted, this article covers the aspect of self-recovery in college students. According to the current article, 22% of college students with a history of binge drinking in adolescence manage to reduce their alcohol consumption while in college without treatment. This is a significant proportion of students, which shows how promising this outcome may be for a number of other students currently dealing with alcohol abuse.

Having both of these sources that discuss the same point of view could be very useful when writing an argumentative paper. If I make an argument that is supported by the use of natural recovery, these articles both provide evidence. Having both of these sources has also opened my eyes to the unique methods some researchers are taking towards treating alcoholism on campus. It has never occurred to me that “self recovery” could be effective in reducing binge drinking on campuses. Part of successful research is learning other sides to an issue, which this article provides. It has opened more doors to further research that I must do in order to choose my side of the argument.

Vik, P. W., Cellucci, T., & Ivers, H. “Natural Reduction of Binge Drinking Among College Students.” Addictive Behaviors, vol. 28, no. 4, 2003, pp. 643-655.


Through the natural process of early cessation, many students end up resolving their drinking issues and lessening the amount of alcohol they drink. According to the current study, this process is much more common than most people think. Campuses typically do not address this type of recovery because they are so focused on their own treatment programs, not to mention the risk associated with letting students recover on their own. If they end up requiring more serious treatment, the campus could be to blame for not taking action sooner. This article provides a unique perspective on the treatment of college drinking problems since few other sources mention anything about “natural recovery.”

If natural recovery ends up being a more viable outcome for colleges, it could potentially save money that would otherwise be put towards treatment programs. It would allow the college to use this money on higher quality treatment for the students who actually do require it. This money could also be put towards prevention rather than treatment, which would encourage healthier behaviors in students. A lot more research would need to be done before this could be incorporated into college campuses, however, it provides an interesting perspective to the issue of alcohol abuse treatment.

Misch, D. A. “’Natural Recovery’ From Alcohol Abuse Among College Students.” Journal of American College Health, vol. 55., no. 4, 2007, pp. 215-218.

Different Perspective, Different Diagnosis

Alcohol abuse is difficult to diagnose – it is a psychiatric condition and must be treated as one, yet psychiatrists still cannot agree on the best way to identify it objectively. There is such a wide variety of symptoms and behaviors of an alcoholic. At what point does regular drinking turn into a problem? The current article discusses the differences in diagnostic tools. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) IV includes “use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g. driving an automobile)” as one of its diagnostic criteria. While the DSM is a trusted source for psychiatrists to use when diagnosing patients, this specific definition has sparked debate. The World Health Organization (WHO) considered including this category in its own diagnostic definition, but did not. According to WHO, this category not only excludes members of lower socio-economic classes who do not have automobiles, but it also does not fit the definition of a psychiatric disorder.

The current study provides valuable points that I could use towards a possible future argument. Diagnosing alcohol abuse seems to be a major issue in the field currently, so it is important to consider numerous diagnostic tools. This article provides an unbiased description of how each tool defines alcohol abuse, which may help me in possibly arguing that one is better than the other.

Babor, T. F., & Caetano, R. “The Trouble with Alcohol Abuse: What Are We Trying to Measure, Diagnose, Count, and Prevent?” Addiction, vol. 103.7, pp. 1057-1059.

Prevention vs. Privacy

In today’s digital world, social media has become the mainstream way to communicate with friends and share thoughts, messages, and pictures with one another. Many college students find themselves under fire for posting pictures with alcohol, even if they are of legal age to consume it. The current study addresses the use of these pictures on Facebook by colleges to screen students for being at risk of alcohol abuse. According to the article, peers who viewed pictures of other students consuming alcohol perceived these images at face value, meaning that these students perceived their peers as alcohol users. However, the method with which the university approached these students had significantly different results. Students were much more favorable towards being approached by their peers rather than a stranger regarding the pictures. These results are not surprising to me, yet I do not think that either method is an appropriate way to identify students at risk of abusing alcohol. If an individual occasionally partakes in social activities involving alcohol and pictures are posted, yet this student does not actively post any other pictures, the frequency of alcohol use would appear higher and more severe than a student who is constantly posting pictures of every aspect of his/her life. In addition, the simple perception that students who post pictures with alcohol are likely abusing alcohol is not necessarily valid. Students who post these pictures may still be responsible when they drink, yet irresponsible drinkers may not post pictures for others to see. It seems to be a far-stretched indication of a potential alcohol problem, yet it was a method of screening that I have not yet come across in my research and I think it provides an interesting topic for my paper.

Moreno, M. A., Grant, A., Kacvinsky, L., Egan, K. G., & Fleming, M. F. “College Students’ Alcohol Displays on Facebook: Intervention Considerations.” Journal of American College Health, vol. 60.5, pp. 388-394.

An Intricate Web

As with many physical and psychological illnesses, it is nearly impossible to narrow down and identify the prime cause or risk factor involved. The same goes for alcohol abuse. No psychiatrist is able to pinpoint exactly what drove an individual to drink too much, yet colleges constantly look for key risk factors when trying to identify alcohol abuse on campus. This article is a key component of my research because it highlights numerous factors involved in alcoholism among college students, therefore showing the complexity and uncertainty involved in identifying which students are at risk. One particular aspect of the article that is especially interesting is that it emphasizes the fact that the college environment itself can be a significant factor influencing the amount of binge drinkers on a campus. Based on the article, the region of the country, state laws regarding alcohol sales and use, price and density of residential areas, along with the density of alcohol outlets all impact the likelihood of developing binge-drinking behaviors. As far as my research goes, this article arches over many of the smaller studies that I have found and has similar findings, making it a convenient, all-in-one source for identifying and examining risk-factors involved in college alcohol abuse.

Wechsler, H. & Nelson, T. F. “What We Have Learned from the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study: Focusing Attention on College Student Alcohol Consumption and the Environmental Conditions that Promote It.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, vol. 69.4, pp. 481.

A Bad Mix

Unlike many of the other articles published in regards to alcohol consumption of college students, the current study focuses on a particular kind of drink as opposed to the frequency and amount of alcohol consumed. In this case, the researchers were interested in how alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmED) affected students’ behaviors. Based on the findings, students who consumed AmED were more likely to also abuse drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana. These students were also more likely to have unprotected sex after the consumption of AmED. This study presents a unique voice to the many studies published on the topic of college alcohol consumption in that it recognizes the fact that different drinks have different effects, some of which are more dangerous than others. Although the researchers attempted to differentiate between AmED and non-AmED alcohol consumption via computation methods, it is not entirely reliable. This article provides an interesting spark to direct further research towards studying specific types of drinks, but the data is not reliable enough to make any sure conclusions regarding AmED consumption. However, I found it very interesting because of its unique perspective towards factors influencing drug and alcohol abuse and I think it will still be useful in my research. In addition, it provides universities with information regarding alcohol abuse risk factors and may help them become more aware of this often ignored factor of drink choice.

Snipes, D. J. & Benotsch, E. G. “High-risk Cocktails and High-risk Sex: Examining the Relation Between Alcohol Mixed with Energy Drink Consumption, Sexual Behavior, and Drug Use in College Students.” Addictive Behaviors, vol. 38.1, 2013, pp. 1418-1423.

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