Alcohol continues to be one of the predominantly abused drugs on many college campuses. Each year, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Police responds to a variety of incidents involving excessive consumption of alcohol. According to the UW-Eau Claire Center for Alcohol Studies and Education web site (Visit Site).
- More than 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking. (Hingson et al, 2005)
- About 11% of college student drinkers report that they have damaged property while under the influence. (Wechsler et al, 2002)
UW-Eau Claire Police strive to provide a safe environment for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Our department stresses responsible, respectful behavior and assists the community by offering educational programs on the dangers of high risk drinking. We also focus our enforcement efforts by patrolling specific areas of campus to limit problems associated with alcohol abuse.
Many young people are not aware that you can die from drinking too much alcohol. An organization called Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) estimated that as many as 4,000 deaths per year occur as a result of alcohol poisoning.
According to RID, teenagers are especially vulnerable to alcohol overdoses. Sometimes, when young people become drunk at a party or other gathering, their friends simply put them to bed to try to "sleep it off". Sometimes, the people who go to bed never get up again. If a person drinks too much alcohol too quickly and then goes to sleep, the alcohol will shut down heart functions and breathing and can kill the person within a few hours.
What happens when a person is suffering from alcohol poisoning?
Alcohol affects the nerves that control involuntary actions like the heart beat, breathing and the gag reflex that normally keeps people from choking on vomit or food. An overdose of alcohol can stop all of these involuntary and very necessary actions.
Victims of alcohol poisoning may experience very slow breathing which gradually becomes irregular and then stops. Their heart beats may become irregular and they may suffer "cardiac arrest" because their heart stops. They may choke on their own vomit or suffer seizures.
Signs of Alcohol Poisoning
A person who shows any of the following signs may be suffering alcohol poisoning and should receive immediate, emergency medical attention. Don't hesitate to call 911 -- you may save a life.
The signs of alcohol poisoning are:
- Vomiting while sleeping
- Mental confusion, coma, stupor, person cannot be roused
- Slow or irregular breathing
- Low body temperature, bluish or pale skin
Reversing Alcohol Poisoning
Old movies and old wives tales claim that black coffee, cold showers, drinks with raw eggs in them and other techniques can reverse the effects of drinking and sober a person up. The truth is, none of these techniques will work. The only solution is IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY MEDICAL ATTENTION.
Until medical help arrives, you can:
- Stay with the person who has overdosed.
- Prevent the drinker from choking on their own vomit by turning them on their side
- Provide information to medical personnel about how much the person drank, what they drank and over what period of time. You may also be able to provide contact information for their parents or other family members.
Sexual Violence or Date Rape
Experts estimate that over 90% of all "date" or "acquaintance" rapes happen when one or both of the people involved have been drinking. Very often, young women are the victims of these date rapes or other forms of sexual violence. Many of these crimes go unreported because the victims are embarrassed or afraid.
In some cases, "date rape drugs" are slipped into alcoholic beverages or other drinks. Rohypnol (better known as "roofies") and GHB or bamma-hydroxybutyrate are the two most commonly used date rape drugs. GHB is sometimes known as Liquid-G, Liquid Ecstasy or Grievous Bodily Harm.
Rohypnol comes in both tablet and liquid forms. The drug makes victims sleepy, drowsy and disoriented and may cause memory loss for periods up to about 10 hours. During this "blacked out period" many women have been raped and abused and never remember it.
GHB is generally sold as a clear liquid, which makes it very easy to mix into drinks. Some people claim that GHB causes a high, but no hangover. Unfortunately, it can cause very serious problems, including death. It is known as a date rape drug because it also can cause short-term amnesia.
Young people should never take either of these drugs voluntarily and should be extremely careful to avoid having them inserted into a drink without their knowledge. Unless you are in an absolutely safe setting, never drink from punch bowls or other containers, never leave your glass or soda can or bottle unguarded and then drink from it again and never allow someone you don't know to mix you a drink.