Substance Abuse is a Problem for WC Students

By Barbara MacGuigan

Elm Staff Writer

Fall semester has just begun, and it’s brought in all the changes of a fresh year. Our senior friends are gone, on to new and exciting things like getting hounded for loan payments, and a new clutch of bright eyed, very sweaty freshmen have joined the flock. Soon, those freshmen (maybe you are one of them) will start making friends with veteran geese and being invited to hang out with them. They may also be invited to on or off campus parties.

Now, as a preface, I should clarify that I have nothing against partying, or the drinking that might occur during said parties. I don’t hate fun, but students need to be careful.

By the spring semester of my freshman year, at least two of my close friends had been sent to the E.R. for alcohol poisoning. Let me be clear here: this is not a problem unique to freshmen. It has nothing to do with age or experience.

My year’s class took a few online courses via “Think About It,” which I liked because they had an award system and I am easily bought, and there were several booster courses we had to do for some sort of credit. It was neat. I learned a lot of facts about drinking — for example, how 1.5 ounces of vodka has the same alcohol content as five ounces of wine and 12 ounces of beer.

Learning information like this is important. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.” The same institute reports that, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, “Roughly 20 percent of college students meet the criteria for AUD” also known as Alcohol Use Disorder.

Unfortunately, WC has limited resources in terms of what to do once someone becomes dependent on any substance. The Health Center offers counseling services, which can be useful for somebody who is struggling with substance abuse, but there’s no dedicated service specifically for helping students who have an addiction.

Excessive drinking is a problem that prevails on this campus, often referred to not as a form of substance abuse, but rather as binging or a form of coping. One of the biggest reasons to drink that I’ve heard friends and peers use is stress.

When we’re stressed, we drink to cope with that stress, and once the stress is released, we drink out of relief. Midterm coming up? Drink. Family problems? Drink. Drama, grief, overwork, financial issues? Drink. Mental health trouble that we really need therapy and medication for, but anxiety, distrust, or lack of insurance and income precludes us from obtaining? Drink.

On a positive note, however, students have taken some initiative with the “Kent Goes Purple” bulletin board on the first floor of Hodson. It is heartwarming to see that others have noticed the gap in awareness and are attempting to fill it. Hopefully this trend will continue and gain more support.

In my opinion, we as a college community should have more resources and programs designed to bring awareness and help to those who have found coping mechanisms that might slightly work for now, but ultimately have the potential for grave consequences.

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