It’s no secret that college students drink alcohol. College students now have the freedom to make the decision to go out and drink, without a tutor telling them otherwise. Whether at a bar or at a frat night, chances are that alcohol is easy to find near college campuses.
March 21-25 is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 53% of college students drink alcohol in any given month, and 33% report heavy drinking. Heavy drinking is classified as at least five drinks for a man and four drinks for a woman, but many young adults drink twice that amount and engage in “high-intensity drinking”. Although a night of drinking can be generally harmless, it can quickly become a dangerous habit that is difficult for students to quit.
Esmeralda Aguilera, a fourth-year student from El Paso majoring in psychology, is the Peer Education Chair for Risk Intervention and Safety Education. Aguilera said stress and misconceptions about college life are among the main factors behind heavy drinking among students.
“The most important thing overall is the stress,” Aguilera said. “We found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol consumption increased in all populations, not just students. Obviously another really big problem is that when students think about college or look forward to college in high school, they assume it’s this huge party environment and you’re going to hang out here and drink every day.
If a student is sent to Student Conduct for alcohol abuse, they are referred to RISE to talk about their drinking habits and the underlying cause. Students in the program will meet two graduate students trained in alcohol and drug addiction intervention.
Aguilera said RISE works with students to help them understand why they drink alcohol and allows them to create a plan for safer drinking habits in the future.
“If they were caught on campus under the influence of the TTPD, they would be sent to Student Conduct who would then return them to us,” Aguilera said. “A student will come and he can choose to do an individual meeting or a group meeting. It’s basically a very casual conversation with two graduate students who will help you come up with a plan for yourself. »
RISE mentors often encourage students in the program to wean themselves or completely abstain from drinking, but let the individual decide which choice is best for them.
Aguilera said that RISE only wants to help and inform students about the potential consequences of excessive alcohol consumption, and that there is no reason for a student to be ashamed if referred to the program. .
“All we really want to do is inform and educate students,” Aguilera said. “Then they can decide to use it in their lives. Because each of us is different, right? I think what we basically want is to provide a safe, non-judgmental environment for students can come in and really discuss everything. There’s no reason to feel shame or embarrassment or guilt. These things happen.
Generally, students who commit substance abuse offenses are assumed to be “troublemakers” or bad students. However, even the most successful students may struggle with alcohol abuse and need help from RISE and other on-campus programs.
Trevor Wilkinson, a freshman from Abilene majoring in science and humanities, was referred to RISE this school year after getting caught drinking in his dorm. Wilkinson said meeting RISE was a fun and helpful way for him to reflect on his drinking habits going forward.
“I only had to attend one (meeting), but it was very beneficial and I learned all the bad things alcohol can do and cause,” Wilkinson said. “I think it was important to own up to my wrongdoings and go to the meeting. It was a lot of fun and very helpful for future projects.
In addition to RISE, there are a number of other organizations and programs that students can contact if they are struggling with substance abuse.
Wilkinson encourages students struggling with substance abuse to contact campus resources for help.
“If you’re struggling, Texas Tech can help you in many ways,” Wilkinson said. “Alcohol can be harmful and so many people aren’t educated about it, and in the long run it’s never worth it.”
There are a number of students who are personally affected by alcohol abuse. On the other hand, students who work in bars experience the daily effects of heavy drinking and early alcoholism.
Alyssa Vasquez, a third-year student from Houston majoring in business management, previously worked as a cocktail waitress at a local bar in Lubbock. Vasquez said if she or another waitress notices a customer is out of control, they should call in a bouncer to alleviate the situation.
“The best way to tell when someone’s been overserved is to speak badly or have a loud tone,” Vasquez said. “When we have to interrupt people, we have the bouncers there and that takes the stress out of picking off overweight, intoxicated men.”
Often, bouncers have to deal with the burden of making sure intoxicated patrons get out of the bar safely.
Mateo Casas, a third-year student from San Antonio majoring in agribusiness, has been working as a bouncer for seven months. Casas said it was pretty obvious that a patron had had too much to drink and bouncers need to act quickly to keep everyone safe.
“Their mannerisms such as the way they walk, act towards other customers and the way they talk,” Casas said. “It’s pretty simple for the bouncers, we let the bartender know they need to cut them, have them close their tab, and we walk them out of the bar in a respectful manner.”
Although the bouncers do what they can to keep inebriated patrons from getting physical, sometimes it’s unavoidable.
Casas said that when he was in this situation, he made sure to stay calm.
“I’ve often been called names and had very handy clients with me and other bouncers,” Casas said. “The way I’ve handled these kinds of situations is to act calm and not get hold of that client. Even though it’s hard not to be assertive, it’s in our interest to be as less physical as possible.
Whether a student is trying to slowly reduce their alcohol intake or simply trying to have a safe evening, it is important that they know their limits and monitor their alcohol intake.
Casas said his biggest tip for having a fun and safe night of drinking is to not overdo it and hang out with people you trust.
“Don’t overdo it,” Casas said. “That’s the best advice, and also be careful how you get home. There have been too many incidents where students have found themselves in unfortunate situations because they drank too much. And for all students, always be safe who you leave your drink with and never hesitate to ask the staff for help. The best thing to remember is that we are here for the safety of customers and staff. »