As TCU Case Focuses Attention on Drugs on Campus, Don't Forget About Booze

Categories: Schutze

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Drug arrests at Texas Christian University certainly have seized everybody's attention around the country. But surely it's not because people are shocked, shocked to find drugs on a college campus.

Probably has more to do with the close juxtaposition of the words "drug raid" and "Christian." But who cares why people are suddenly focused? Carpe the moment.

Drugs on campus are a serious issue, well worth scrutiny. I just hope at some point in all that scrutinizing, people find their way to the big one.

Booze.

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Via.
Not that cocaine and ecstasy and heroin and all the rest of them aren't on campus, but booze is so much bigger and more obvious a threat to the lives and health of college kids, you have to wonder sometimes why everybody would rather talk about other stuff.

Here in Dallas we happen to be home to what has become quite possibly the best available resource anywhere in the nation for information about booze on campus and, in particular, campus deaths from alcohol-based hazing. The Gordie Foundation, created by the parents of a Dallas kid killed by booze in a fraternity hazing incident at the University of Colorado in 2004, campaigns for campus alcohol awareness programs at schools across the country.

But the Gordie Foundation's website also serves as maybe the most convenient and authoritative place you can go for information about alcohol on campus and how it stacks up against illegal drugs as an issue.

Really stacks up. Stacks and stacks. It stacks up 650 percent higher. That's right. Six and a half times more college kids die of booze than of all other drugs combined, according to information available on the site.

And it's not their information. The stuff on this site is not the typical strident shrieky propaganda you get from the crazy crackdown groups. Click on some of the research available on the page, and you will come across things like a 2008 article from the Harvard School of Public Health reporting about a 14-year study with many scary findings.

The worst are about drinking on campus combined with driving -- 1,700 student deaths a year in alcohol-driving incidents. But, of course, drinking plays a huge role in unprotected sex, flunking out, all of the predictable things, as well.

What I found most unsettling about the findings was how little college kids know about short-term dangers of alcohol -- its ability to kill you, for example -- and the long-term effects on their lives. The study found, for example, that most heavy drinkers in college think they just like to have fun, but in fact one in 17 of them can be clinically diagnosed as alcoholic.

Alcoholic. That's like being addicted to heroin. Maybe worse, because it's so much easier to get away with.

I'm not saying people should not worry about illegal drugs on campus. The illegal ones are way worse than alcohol in one big way: They're illegal. A kid may drink himself out of school, but as long as he doesn't manslaughter anybody on the highway doing it, he won't wind up with a felony conviction. Can't guarantee the same for those kids at the school with "Christian" in its name over in Fort Worth.

The Gordie Foundation does not tell kids not to drink. It's way more pragmatic than that. In fact, it tells them how to drink. They hand out a printed card on campus with tips on how to keep yourself from going over the cliff while partying (pace yourself, eat first, etc.).

But there is also something chilling about those card, maybe because you can tell from reading them that the information on them is news. The card warns you, for example, about something it calls "PUBS," which works like this: Your buddy or your girlfriend or dorm-mate could be on the verge of death if he is puking while passed out; unresponsive to shaking; breathing in slow or shallow breaths or, more urgently, not at all; or has skin that has turned blue or some other wrong color, is clammy or cold.

Yeah. That's bad. Did we not know that? Right. We did not know that. That's why they printed the cards.

Here is all I am saying: If you really want to do something to save the lives of kids who die and screw up their lives on drugs at college, make sure while you're at it you remember to go after the big one.

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Anonymous
Anonymous

This article proves why lowering the drinking age to 18 would be a good solution. When something is illegal, it is that much more tempting. If we take the temptation aspect away from college aged students, there would likely be fewer alcohol related deaths, etc. 

Another problem is that our culture makes a big deal out of alcohol/drinking. I have both visited and spoken to family friends from countries where the drinking age is 18, and can tell you that they don't have as much of a problem with the issue. Also, in those countries they do not focus on the sensational aspects of alcohol. For example, a typical 18th birthday celebration in such countries involves a beer or two (or other drink of choice) with some friends/family. Binge drinking on birthdays or otherwise is not as prevalent. 

Making alcohol legal to college aged students, and rethinking the way alcohol is presented as a culture would likely have a positive impact. 

JB
JB

But, but... My life will be much improved if I drink the 'right kind' of beer.  Women will be throwing themselves at me, I will be the life of the party and everyone will want to be me.  At least that is what the commercials are telling us.

Don't you think there is some correlation between drinking by young adults and advertising?

I think alcohol should be deglorified in American culture.  Lowering the age to eighteen may help, but getting the alcohol ads off TV would do a lot more, I think. 

Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I am a social drinker and greatly enjoy my preferred flavors of alcohol (in moderation-hangovers suck!)

dt&ot
dt&ot

With a couple exceptions the amounts were small, no guns mentioned or violence.  I wonder what the final charges will be.  My guess is one felony for the guy that sold the 250 Xanax if the bust was clean.  Maybe one more if the LSD is legit.  It looks like the football players sold a little pot. This is just a sales promotion by law enforcement.  They got a bunch of new rich customers and got some headlines to use for getting more law enforcement resources.   Maybe they can go out to one of the many bars in the drug free zone and get blitzed and hand out commendations.   Let's take the war in drugs to a new level.  Let's fully investigate the users and arrest them too.  Then let's find the people who enabled them for buying the drugs by providing financial support and take possession of their assets.  Who knows how far this could go?  Maybe we could get about 80% of the population under arrest or at least up on charges.  Why is Xanax so abundant?  Maybe we could take possession of Pfizer’s resources for manufacturing and not controlling distribution of this dangerous drug that every cubicle worker in America is taking on a regular basis.  We could piss test every American every 5 days and if anything shows up that does not have a prescription back up....bust em.  Let's get serious and rid our society of the scourge of drugs!  Just think, we could be the first in the history of man to do so! Let's continue to bust poor people for possession of pot and keep them on the tit by making sure they have a criminal record reportable on all job applications.   Billions on the war on drugs?  Let's make it trillions!  We could call it a surge. Let's make it the new driver of the economy.  Think of the jobs it could create, think of the assets we could seize.  Everyone would either be a buster or a bustee!   Then the busters could start busting each other (because we know that law enforcement is not immune to taking or selling drugs) until we are truly drug free.   Rant complete with my apologies. 

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

 The problem is we took the booze out of high schools, and the kiddos found moms medicine cabinet, they take that "knowledge" to college where some older kid adds a twelve pack of Keystone light to the mix and blammo.... your dead

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

1 in 17 are alcoholicsThat means me and my friends can account for about 340 casual drinkers  

JimS
JimS

Depends on your definition of casual.

Paul
Paul

 Usually slacks with either a polo shirt or a button down oxford ... occasionally pressed jeans with a golf shirt ...

damnshameitis!
damnshameitis!

When I over imbibe with the hooch, I sometimes wake up, next to or in, vomit. When I over indulge with the mary jane, I sometimes wake up next to(or also in???) a bunch of empty twinkie wrappers. Which one is worst?

Augie
Augie

Anon grabbed on of my comments...yes, alcohol is just as illegal as marijuana for college students under 21.  Yet, because our country has thrown it's lot in with the booze pushers since prohibition times, most kids don't see the age restriction illegality as a barrier to their choice to drink.  

Someone usually points out in comments like these that no one has ever smoked dope to the point of shutting down their central nervous system and dying, yet that happens every year on college campuses with booze. Far more alcohol driving fatalities occur as well.  It appears to me that the way we treat intoxicants, legal and illegal, is failing miserably.  It seems a cultural shift from legalization, education, treatment and counselling, and the way parents handle these issues at home would be less expensive and probably more effective than the longstanding and failed war on drugs.  

Lakewooder
Lakewooder

The war on drugs will never be won, but winning isn't the objective.  It's a business that employs hundreds of thousands of people. Lawyers, judges, DEA employees, prison personnel, parole officers, probation officers, etc. It's the perfect business model - a never ending supply of offenders feeding the voracious appetite of the WOD. Got it?

jfpo
jfpo

Not to mention the booming for-profit prison industry, whose lobbyists seem to own most legislators in both parties. This may turn out to be the biggest impediment to ending the WOD.

Amy S
Amy S

My son attends an out-of-state state university, who sat us parents down at orientation and told us that 80 percent of our kids were coming into college having already had a drink. Their concern was for the safety of the student, now that they weren't under mom and dad's thumbs. They felt educating the students about all aspects of alcohol use AND consequences empowered them to be smarter about their choices. Prior to his first day, he had to take an online course about alcohol consumption, very similar to the training a waiter takes to be TABC certified, and perhaps similar to the Gordie Foundation's message. Am about to send off another, a daughter, with reassurance, not worries about their policy.

JimS
JimS

A lot of the alcohol awareness training going on on campuses today derives from the Gordie Foundation --its materials and resources but also the threat of litigation exposure if such materials and resources are available and a school choooses to ignore them. 

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Do you know of any high schools--public and private--who offer alcohol awareness training?

I am so reassured to know that colleges are requiring this training.

JM
JM

Thanks, Jim. As a parent of a college kid (legal age) and a high school junior ( not legal age but that doesn't seem to make much of a difference in some crowds), alcohol scares me, a lot.  We talk, we send links to I told you so stories and the Gordie Foundation, but I am still scared. The big one, yes.

Anon
Anon

Alcohol is a legal drug that simply happens to be age-restricted in such a way that about half the college population has legal access, and most of the other half has easy (albeit illegal) access through the half that has legal access. There are differing opinions about the justification for the legal status but that alone will eliminate a large portion of the population as potential users.Having said all that, I'd be curious to know how they all stack up as a % of the user base and frequency. Alcohol education is important, but I'd also suspect that alcohol use is well over 6 and a half times more frequent than harder drugs on college campuses. I'd also point out that one of the most dangerous aspects of college drinking is that the worst of it happens behind closed doors because people under 21 don't want to get in trouble. Going out for the night and it's only a 50/50 chance that you'll get served later? Load up on 5-6 shots of vodka in quick succession just to make sure that you're "ready" for the evening. 

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