Alcoholism a serious problem in college

Aretha Welch
Editor in Chief

“Upon extensive questioning, it is believed that members of the fraternity were using rubber tubing inserted into their rectums as a conduit for alcohol.”

Take a second to reread.

This was the image that was etched into the minds of Americans everywhere earlier this week. As the popular news station CNN covered an alleged incident of underage drinking on the University of Tennessee’s campus what stood out to most was not the drinking, but the manner in which the students consumed the alcohol.

The method of delivery has been tagged an “alcohol enema” and according to medical commentators who spoke on the topic following the incident, the anus allows alcohol to travel through the system more quickly than via oral ingestion. The incident landed one student in the hospital with a blood alcohol level at five times the legal limit and is just one illustration of how far some students will go to get their buzz.

While the 12 students who were cited were searching for their euphoric lift, some students have been there and done that, and are not going back for more.

“I drank a lot. I did drugs and I ended up in a recovery facility in Concord,” Amy Burton said.

Burton has two DUIs under her belt and the 24-year-old is not allowed to drive.

She began taking classes at Las Positas this semester.

September is National Recovery Month and is aimed at celebrating the lives of those like Burton, those who have dealt with alcohol and drug addiction and are now leading healthy lives, free of substance dependency. Some former addicts and abusers admit that their addiction took them to the edge and beyond, but are convinced that if they could come back, anyone can.

“It’s hard. I feel like my life is just beginning and I have a few strikes against me already,” said Burton, who got married six weeks ago. “I have been nine months sober. It sounds short but for someone who has had trouble going through one day without something to dull the dullness, for about four years, it’s a lot. I was an addict.”

Burton does not stand in solitude, however, when she says she was an addict.

According to the website collegedrinking.gov 31 percent of college students met criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and six percent for a diagnosis of alcohol dependency for the 12 months prior to the questionnaire-type screening.

The site gathered their information from a 2002 study and student screening done by John R. Knight, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School.

In a 2005 study, the website stated some 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol.

“I wasn’t one of those stupid ‘get all crazy’ drunk kids who jump off buildings and stuff. They make real alcoholics look bad,” Burton said.

I didn’t drink for fun. I drank because I couldn’t not drink. It may sound like a cop out but I needed it, otherwise I felt physically ill and depressed sometimes without a drink.”

The University of San Francisco’s (UCSF) Research Center and the Ernest Gallo Clinic supported Burton in her claim that saying she was physically addicted was not a cop out.
“Drinking alcohol leads to the release of endorphins in areas of the brain that produce feelings of pleasure and reward,” according to an article on the school’s website.

The school, in collaboration with the Ernest Gallo Clinic  did a study earlier this year where they measured and tracked the amount of endorphins (happy hormones) released from the brains of heavy drinkers, compared to non heavy drinkers when both groups consumed alcohol.

While the release of endorphins could be measured in all test subjects endorphins which were released in a particular parts of the brain affected heavy drinkers and non-alcoholics in different ways.

“In all of the subjects, the more endorphins released in the nucleus accumbens, the greater the feelings of reported by all drinkers. The more endorphins released in the orbitofrontal cortex, the greater the feelings of intoxication in the heavy drinkers, but not in the control subjects,” the article stated.

“This indicates that the brains of heavy or problem drinkers are changed in a way that makes them more likely to find alcohol pleasant, and may be a clue to how problem drinking develops in the first place,” said Jennifer Mitchell, lead author of the study and clinical project director at the Gallo Center.

Mitchell is also an adjunct assistant professor of neurology at UCSF.

“That greater feeling of reward might cause them to drink too much,” she said.

Robert Tran drank too much for seven years. He is a recovered alcoholic who has been going to LPC on and off again for six years.

Tran said all the friends he has made at LPC invite him out to bars and restaurants where liquor is served.

“It’s a real problem,” Tran said about alcoholism, “and people do not understand the strength it takes to enroll in college when you’re addicted to alcohol.

“People here (at LPC) are young, they are finally of the legal age to drink. Some of them drink before the legal age and they want to hang out, but it’s too much for me.”

The 27-year-old Math major said he feels like a recluse having to hang out with people from his support group all the time.

They are the only people who get his need “to not turn everywhere and see people drinking cold beers and taking shots.”

“But when you turn your life around,” Tran said, “you have to say no to what you need to say no to. It has to be a personal choice to say sober and clean, despite the temptations and stress college brings with it. ”

He said during finals he is tempted to turn back to the booze.
“But I pick up the phone and I call a friend or I talk to a teacher. Students here underestimate how much they are concerned.”

Tran said when it comes to drug and alcohol related problems almost any teacher will listen to a student who needs an ear.

“Everyone knows how hard it would be for a student to succeed with a bottle in one hand and a book in the other,” Tran said.

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