Alcohol/Drugs If you would like more information about alcohol and/or drug issues, please call 328-6794 to make an appointment with a Health Educator or email email@example.com. I think maybe I drink too much. How do I know if I have a problem with alcohol? First, let us commend you for recognizing your feelings about your own drinking behaviors rather than ignoring them. People who avoid seeking help or answers about their problems are more likely to experience greater consequences rather than finding solutions. By acknowledging how you feel and seeking advice, you are already on the right track to avoiding problems that may be associated with alcohol use. You may not be at the point where your drinking is a problem now, but you might be exhibiting some warning signs for later. Studies that have been done over and over again with people who HAVE developed alcohol-related problems, such as abuse and alcoholism, show that there are some common warning factors that have been seen consistently as an indicator that someone might be headed towards problem drinking. Warning signs of problem drinking can include: • Gulping drinks • Drinking to modify uncomfortable feelings (drinking to calm nerves, deal with stress, boredom, or loneliness) • Personality or behavioral changes after drinking • Getting drunk frequently • Experiencing blackouts -- not being able to remember what happened while drinking • Frequent accidents or illness as a result of drinking • Priming -- prepping with alcohol before going to a social event where alcohol is going to be served • Not wanting to talk about the negative consequences of drinking • Preoccupation with alcohol • Focusing all social situations around alcohol • Sneaking drinks or drinking alone • Usually has more than two or three drinks per night out • Drinking more than two to three times a week • Gets drunk after making a conscious decision to stay sober • Gets irritated at literature about drinking problems • Lying or trying to hide drinking habits • Feeling irritable when not drinking • Having medical, social or financial problems as a result of drinking Because alcoholism can be BOTH a habitual (psychological) addiction and a chemical (physical) addiction, it is important to recognize why you drink. If you are using it as a way to cope with feelings of boredom or stress, then you may want to find another way to deal with these feelings. If you drink too much because of peer pressure, you might want to consider making a plan on how you can either avoid being in situations where you will be pressured to drink and work on setting limits for yourself and sticking to them. As far as how much is "too much", a person needs to absorb less alcohol than they can metabolize to prevent over-intoxication. For most people, their liver can metabolize approximately one ounce of pure alcohol per hour, which is approximately the alcohol content in a 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or in a 1-1/2 ounce shot glass. Alcohol metabolism rates may also be related to genetic factors. General guidelines for healthy drinking include limiting your alcohol intake to two drinks or less per day, and only one drink per hour. This can be achieved more easily at a party or a "recreational night out" by alternating a non-alcoholic beverage after an alcoholic drink. Even if you spread your alcohol consumption over an entire day, drinking less than your body can metabolize each time, it is still important to stick to the two drink per day rule. This is because, in some people, more than two drinks a day will cause elevated blood pressure, and can alter liver function. To be a smart drinker, it is also important to be aware of any family history of alcohol use, as any history of alcohol abuse or alcoholism can predispose you to alcohol dependency. It is usually recommended that someone talk to a counselor about their drinking if they answer "yes" to any of the following questions: 1. Have you ever tried to cut down on your drinking and not been able to? 2. Do you feel annoyed when people talk to you about your drinking behaviors? 3. Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking? 4. Have you ever needed an alcoholic drink in the morning after drinking the night before? A substance abuse counselor is available at the Center for Counseling and Student Development to help students who may feel that their drinking is getting out of hand. If you would like to make an appointment with the counselor or to talk more, you can call 328-6661. How much alcohol is too much? As far as how much is "too much", a person needs to absorb less alcohol than they can metabolize to prevent over-intoxication. For most people, their liver can metabolize approximately one ounce of pure alcohol per hour, which is approximately the alcohol content in a 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or in a 1-1/2 ounce shot glass. Alcohol metabolism rates may also be related to genetic factors. How can I cut down on how much I drink? General guidelines for healthy drinking include limiting your alcohol intake to two drinks or less per day, and only one drink per hour. This can be achieved more easily at a party or a "recreational night out" by alternating a non-alcoholic beverage after an alcoholic drink. Even if you spread your alcohol consumption over an entire day, drinking less than your body can metabolize each time, it is still important to stick to the two drinks per day rule. This is because, in some people, more than two drinks a day will cause elevated blood pressure, and can alter liver function. To be a smart drinker, it is also important to be aware of any family history of alcohol use, as any history of alcohol abuse or alcoholism can predispose you to alcohol dependency. When should I talk to a counselor about my drinking? It is usually recommended that someone talk to a counselor about their drinking if they answer "yes" to any of the following questions: 1. Have you ever tried to cut down on your drinking and not been able to? 2. Do you feel annoyed when people talk to you about your drinking behaviors? 3. Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking? 4. Have you ever needed an alcoholic drink in the morning after drinking the night before? If I do have a problem, where can I go for help? A substance abuse counselor is available at the Center for Counseling and Student Development to help students who may feel that their drinking is getting out of hand. If you would like to make an appointment with the counselor or to talk more, you can call 328-6661. I have a friend who drinks a lot of alcohol all at once. I'm worried that he/she will get alcohol poisoning. What can I do to help my friend? Talk to your friend about his/her dangerous drinking. When it's time to confront your friend, make sure she isn't drunk. It's impossible to reason with a drunk person. Begin the conversation with your friend by letting him/her know you care, and that's why you're going to be straight with him/her. Do so in a non-judgmental way, and express your concern for her safety as her friend. Try to use "I" statements when communicating (such as "I feel scared when you pass out", as opposed to "You always drink too much."). This will help avoid some defensiveness, although you might expect that your friend may want to avoid the conversation or will play it off. Be up front and list the negative effects you've seen alcohol have on him/her, including vomiting, hangovers, memory loss, poor grades, missing classes, specific examples where his/her safety has been compromised, etc. Your friend won't be able to ignore the hard evidence. You might want to share some information with your friend. You can pick up educational materials or talk to a Health Educator in the Health & Nutrition Education department at ECU Student Health Service. If your friend needs help, counselors are available at the ECU Center for Counseling and Student Development. How do I know if my friend is experiencing alcohol poisoning? Alcohol poisoning occurs when a person has put more alcohol into their system than the body can handle. Alcohol poisonings are more likely to occur if someone drinks a large quantity of alcohol in a short amount of time. The body processes one standard size drink approximately every 45 minutes. Alcohol poisoning may be more likely to occur for people who participate in drinking games that are designed to make a participant drink a lot and quickly, in "contests" to see who can drink the most alcohol. Also in other scenarios where drinking a lot of alcohol is encouraged and peer pressure is strong (such as doing a high amount of shots to "celebrate" an occasion). Symptoms of alcohol poisoning: o Person is known to have consumed large amounts of alcohol in a short time. o Person is unconscious and cannot be awakened. o Person has cold, clammy, and unusually pale or bluish skin. o Person is breathing slowly or irregularly. o Person has rapid pulse (more than 100 beats per minute). o Person vomits while passed out and does not wake up during or after vomiting. What do I do if I suspect that my friend is experiencing alcohol poisoning? Alcohol poisoning occurs when a person has put more alcohol into their system than the body can handle. Alcohol poisonings are more likely to occur if someone drinks a large quantity of alcohol in a short amount of time. The body processes one standard size drink approximately every 45 minutes. Alcohol poisoning may be more likely to occur for people who participate in drinking games that are designed to make a participant drink a lot and quickly, in "contests" to see who can drink the most alcohol. Also in other scenarios where drinking a lot of alcohol is encouraged and peer pressure is strong (such as doing a high amount of shots to "celebrate" an occasion). What to Do If You Suspect Someone May Have Alcohol Poisoning: o Don’t panic about what the person will think of you when he/she sobers up or worry about getting in trouble. o Call 911 for help immediately. Don’t leave the person alone if possible. Turn the person on his/her side. o Carefully monitor his/her breathing. If the person stops breathing, begin CPR. I want to go out with my friends, but I don't want to get so drunk that I feel hung- over the next day. They always want me to drink a lot. What can I do without looking uncool? Start by exerting your independent thinking! If you don't want to drink, tell your friends and don't let them sway your decision. You can make your own choices. True friends won't pressure you into doing something that you do not want to do. You can always offer to be the designated driver! This is a great way to have an "out" from pressure to drink without getting hassled by your friends. Tell your friends that you have a test or project that you need to work on with a clear mind, or let them know that you do not want to feel hung-over the next day. You might just influence them to drink less as well. If you do decide to drink, you can let your friends know that there is nothing wrong with drinking responsibly and enjoying your beverage instead of gulping it down. Start a discussion. Ask them why there is a need to always be drunk to the point where they lose part of the next day "recovering". Tell your friends you need to save some money- have you ever thought about how much money is spent on alcohol? It's hard to argue with points like this! Here are some other tips to reduce your alcohol intake in a "party" situation: Set a limit of how much you will drink before you go out and stick to it. Eat a meal before you start drinking and eat snacks if provided, although salty snacks like peanuts, pretzels, and popcorn may actually make your thirst increase and cause you to drink more-why do you think some bars serve these snacks to patrons for free??? Alternate between non- alcoholic beverages and alcoholic drinks throughout the night. If you have a choice, don't order the largest size drink that is offered. Sip drinks slowly. Dilute alcoholic beverages by using ice. Avoid drinking straight shots. What is moderation anyway? Following the 0-1-2-3 rule of moderation is a good way to avoid future problems with alcohol. Zero means that there are times that you should choose not to drink at all, like if you're the designated driver, if you have your final exam the next day, if you're taking a prescription medication, if you feel uncomfortable in a situation, and so on. One means you drink only one drink per hour. This way your liver has time to metabolize the alcohol consumed. Two means no more than two nights per week. This keeps alcohol from becoming a priority over your other goals, like academics and work. Three means don't drink more than three drinks in one drinking episode. This keeps you under the mark for binge drinking and the increased risk for negative consequences that can result. The way I see alcohol is that it's a tradition that most college students participate in. Why is everyone so against it? Alcohol is not an "evil" in itself. It is a drug, however, that is commonly abused, and many issues of personal safety, physical, and social issues follow its misuse. Unfortunately, many students get into trouble with alcohol, are at increased risk for behaviors that are potentially dangerous or life altering in a negative way, or lose focus of their goals when alcohol and partying become the students' main priority. The majority of students have a tendency to think that negative consequences "won't happen to me", but the reality is that when alcohol is used excessively, students at ECU and other universities in the state and around the nation do experience some of the following problems: • Missed classes, poor test scores, bad grades, academic failure or suspension from the university • Hangovers, blackouts • Poor judgment/decision-making skills • Getting in trouble/judicial problems • Feelings of regret, shame, guilt, or anxiety related to actions taken while impaired • Depression • Alcohol poisoning • Sexual Assault • Having unprotected intercourse or using contraception incorrectly • Physical violence/loss of control of emotions • Accidents/Getting hurt or injured • Relationship difficulties • Alcoholism/alcohol dependency development • Increased illness • Long term health effects • Alcohol as a gateway to other drugs with potential to be more damaging • Death: 1,400 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year in the U.S. from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes. In addition, the whole campus and community environments can be affected as well, as secondary effects for those who do not drink excessively or who do not drink at all occur. Some of those effects are noise, interruptions to study time, litter, vandalism, theft, dealing with intoxicated friends or roommates, babysitting an intoxicated person, being subjected to obnoxiousness or harassment, building tension in neighborhoods, friends who provide alcohol to minors can get in legal trouble, and feelings of anxiety or worry for friends and family. There is the issue of the law on alcohol use as well. While some students feel that the right to drink alcohol is a rite of passage or tradition upon entering college, the law states that the legal drinking limit is 21 or older. This means that most students entering college cannot consume alcohol legally, and getting caught can mean a day in court, a Class 3 misdemeanor charge, high dollar fines, trouble with parents and family members, not to mention wisecracks from friends. Getting caught drinking underage can come back to haunt students later. Because the charge goes on a person's legal record, jobs where background checks are required may reject a person for potential employment. This is especially true for those who wish to enter a criminal justice field. On campus, the student may be required to appear in front of the student judicial board and receive sanctioned community service or suspension, based on surrounding circumstances. What's the big deal with partying all the time in college? When someone "parties" all the time, it may mean that they have made this past time their top priority, and may lose sight of goals, like academics and graduating from college! About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall. 159,000 of today's first-year college students in the United States will drop out of school next year for alcohol- or other drug-related reasons. If you are having hangover symptoms that make you physically ill, you are less likely to concentrate on your work and less likely to retain information. You are much more likely to be successful academically if you find a balance between course work, studying, and social interactions! Unfortunately, there are a number of students who do poorly academically because they lack this balance who are not able to get into the academic programs they want to because of low GPAs. I was at a club downtown and somebody offered me some GHB. What is it exactly? GHB (gamma-hydroxy butyrate) is a central nervous system depressant that causes effects like relaxation and sleep when administered in low doses. In addition to immobility and amnesia, side effects of GHB range from drowsiness and dizziness to nausea, seizures, respiratory problems, and death. Other side effects include high blood pressure, mood swings, liver tumors, violent behavior, impaired breathing, and loss of reflexes. GHB may also produce withdrawal effects, including insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating. This drug is banned for sale in the United States, and in most cases, is manufactured illegally for illicit use. In 2000, the drug was placed in the Schedule I category of the Controlled Substances Act. In other words, GHB is now considered as dangerous as other, better-known drugs such as cocaine and the penalties for using or distributing GHB are just as serious. GHB (gamma-hydroxy butyrate) is a central nervous system depressant that causes effects like relaxation and sleep when administered in low doses. In addition to immobility and amnesia, side effects of GHB range from drowsiness and dizziness to nausea, seizures, respiratory problems, and death. Other side effects include high blood pressure, mood swings, liver tumors, violent behavior, impaired breathing, and loss of reflexes. GHB may also produce withdrawal effects, including insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating. Other dangers exist with GHB ingestion. Users have no way of knowing which chemicals are used to create GHB since it is illegally developed in clandestine labs. Typically, however, GHB is produced using common household cleaning products and other strong chemicals. At one time of use, the dose of liquid or powder could be very mild. In another instance, the same dose may be powerful enough to be lethal. Also disturbing is the fact that some people are slipping GHB into drinks as an agent for sexual assault and other crimes, such as robbery, in cities across the country (Greenville included). Because GHB can cause the victim to be immobile and to even suffer from amnesia, this drug appeals to many sexual predators. Victims usually don't even notice when GHB is slipped in their drink since it is both odorless and colorless. What to do to minimize the risk of exposure to GHB: • Do not leave beverages unattended or take any beverages from someone that you do not know well. • At a bar or club, accept drinks only from the bartender, waiter or waitress. • At parties, do not accept open container drinks from anyone. • Be aware of anyone appearing more intoxicated than normal in relation to the amount of alcohol consumed. • Anyone suspected of consuming GHB should be taken to the emergency room immediately. Try to keep a sample of the beverage for analysis if possible. Many date-rape victims don't suspect that they have been drugged until the drug has left their body. GHB typically leaves the system within 12 hours, which makes it critical for persons who suspect they might have been drugged to get tested at a hospital emergency department quickly. If tests can be done before GHB leaves the body, officials may have an easier time proving that the victim has been date-raped and drugged and, therefore, prosecuting the perpetrator. Do people really slip it in drinks for purposes of sexual assault? GHB, which is usually developed as a liquid or powder, is odorless and colorless, so it is difficult to recognize by sight that it is an illegal substance. A person carrying what looks like a bottle of water into a party may really have GHB in that bottle. A number of users of GHB do so for the alcohol-like euphoric feeling that it produces, and it is sometimes mixed with other substances to intensify effects. Mixing GHB with other substances is particularly dangerous. Combining use with other drugs such as alcohol can result in nausea and difficulty breathing and can potentially be lethal. Coma and seizures can occur following abuse of GHB and, when combined with other drugs, risks increase dramatically. Other dangers exist with GHB ingestion. Users have no way of knowing which chemicals are used to create GHB since it is illegally developed in clandestine labs. Typically, however, GHB is produced using common household cleaning products and other strong chemicals. At one time of use, the dose of liquid or powder could be very mild. In another instance, the same dose may be powerful enough to be lethal. I've always heard "just say no" and drugs are bad and everything. I've seen a lot of my friends do Ecstasy and marijuana and nothing happens to them but a good time. Does Ecstasy really enhance sex? A good time can quickly turn into a night of tragedy when drugs, which are manufactured illegally, are involved and you never know whether there will be "good" outcomes or negative consequences. It's like playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun. Ecstasy, or MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine), is a synthetic drug that acts simultaneously as a stimulant on the central nervous system and a hallucinogen. Ecstasy is derived from "speed" and belongs to a class of drugs known as "designer drugs". Designer drugs are created by changing an existing drug to create a new substance. The street names of these drugs may vary according to time, place, and manufacturer, and the name changes frequently The two biggest dangers with using Ecstasy are the unknown dosage and chemical combination in each tablet and mixing the drugs with alcohol. Because Ecstasy is manufactured on the street, there are no regulations as to what is in it. One tablet could have a very mild dose, and another could have a lethal amount. Mixing Ecstasy with alcohol increases the risk for and intensifies negative effects. In addition, Ecstasy does have short and long-term physical and psychological effects. Users may immediately experience feelings of detachment, loss of drives (hunger & sleep), muscle tension, blurred vision, sweating or chills, insomnia, tremors, hypertension, increase in heart rate, and possible coma or death. Long-term effects can include appetite disturbance, high blood pressure, kidney failure, stroke, change in emotion, affects memory, and changes in brain chemicals. Along with physical side effects of Ecstasy, there are also psychological effects. These may include confusion, depression, sleep problems, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, panic, and psychotic episodes. Researchers have found that it depletes a very important chemical in the brain, serotonin, which affects mood, sleeping and eating habits, thinking processes, aggressive behavior, sexual function, and sensitivity to pain. Rumors about Ecstasy's ability to increase sexual pleasure are plentiful, but in reality, "X" may impair the ability to have an erection, become sexually aroused, or to have an orgasm. Is marijuana really harmful or is that just hype? What's the deal? Marijuana is not as "safe" as some may think. It has its downfalls and risks. The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). In 1988, it was discovered that the membranes of certain nerve cells contain protein receptors that bind THC. Once securely in place, THC kicks off a series of cellular reactions that ultimately leads to the high that users experience when they smoke marijuana. The short-term effects of marijuana use can include problems with memory and learning; distorted perception; difficulty in thinking and problem solving; loss of coordination; and increased heart rate, anxiety, and panic attacks. A study of college students has shown that critical skills related to attention, memory, and learning are impaired among people who use marijuana heavily, even after discontinuing its use for at least 24 hours.7. Researchers compared 65 "heavy users," who had smoked marijuana a median of 29 of the past 30 days, and 64 "light users," who had smoked a median of 1 of the past 30 days. After a closely monitored 19- to 24- hour period of abstinence from marijuana and other illicit drugs and alcohol, the undergraduates were given several standard tests measuring aspects of attention, memory, and learning. Compared to the light users, heavy marijuana users made more errors and had more difficulty sustaining attention, shifting attention to meet the demands of changes in the environment, and in registering, processing, and using information. These findings suggest that the greater impairment among heavy users is likely due to an alteration of brain activity produced by marijuana. Longitudinal research on marijuana use among young people below college age indicates those who used marijuana have lower achievement than the non-users, more acceptance of deviant behavior, more delinquent behavior and aggression, greater rebelliousness, poorer relationships with parents, and more associations with drug-using friends. In addition, someone who smokes marijuana regularly may have many of the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers. These individuals may have daily cough and phlegm, symptoms of chronic bronchitis, and more frequent chest colds. Continuing to smoke marijuana can lead to abnormal functioning of lung tissue injured or destroyed by marijuana smoke. Regardless of the THC content, the amount of tar inhaled by marijuana smokers and the level of carbon monoxide absorbed are three to five times greater than among tobacco smokers. This may be due to the marijuana users' inhaling more deeply and holding the smoke in the lungs and because marijuana smoke is unfiltered. A marijuana user's heart rate can increase when using marijuana alone. If the person uses cocaine at the same time, severe increases in heart rate and blood pressure can occur. The concern is that, in normal circumstances, an individual may smoke marijuana and inject cocaine and then do something physically stressful that may significantly increase the risk of overloading the cardiovascular system. Researchers have found that THC changes the way in which sensory information gets into and is processed by the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a component of the brain's limbic system that is crucial for learning, memory, and the integration of sensory experiences with emotions and motivations. Neurons in the information processing system of the hippocampus and the activity of the nerve fibers in this region are suppressed by THC. In addition, researchers have discovered that learned behaviors, which depend on the hippocampus, also deteriorate via this mechanism. Recent research findings also indicate that long-term use of marijuana produces changes in the brain similar to those seen after long-term use of other major drugs of abuse. I want to quit smoking. I've tried before, but just can't seem to quit. What can I do? To quit, you have to look back and ask yourself some questions. When did you start smoking? Were you young? Why did you start? To be cool? To fit in? You didn't start smoking to get a nicotine fix. When you first started smoking, it was probably because all your friends smoked, or your parents and you were curious, or felt pressured to try it, so you smoked just to smoke. Pretty soon, smoking became something more - it became a part of your life. And this is a part that you probably found yourself regretting, very soon after you realized that you "needed" cigarettes. You are now most likely addicted both physically and psychologically. Getting over the physical addiction is easy for most people. It's breaking the psychological addiction that is the hardest. Is smoking a "positive" experience for you? If so, then you have conditioned your mind and body, through prolonged exposure to smoking, to get positive feelings when you smoke. Non-smokers don't experience the roller-coaster ride of the high and lows. Instead, they maintain a much higher level of well-being. They don't need a cigarette to relax - they have learned to relax naturally. The average smoker attempts to quit 7 times before he or she is successful. This does not mean that it will take you this long, but if you find that you have not been successful before, do not give up. Believe that this time could be different. Click here for 5 steps to quitting, although we recommend that if you are serious about giving up the habit, you should make an appointment to talk to a health education specialist who can provide you with support, resources, and work out an individual change strategy with you that will greatly increase your chances of being successful. You can schedule an appointment by calling 328-6794. If you would like more information about alcohol and/or drug issues, please call 328-6794 to make an appointment with a Health Educator or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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