Purdue teams up to address high-risk drinking
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University has formed a campus team of 18 faculty, staff and students to suggest and spearhead new ways to reduce high-risk drinking.
The team is the first outgrowth of the university's participation in the newly formed national Learning Collaborative on High-Risk Drinking, which links 31 other higher education institutions across the country. This July, a delegation of five from Purdue attended the national group's first workshop and came back with ideas to consider at Purdue.
"Participants will collaborate to help one another and then share their findings," said Lee Gordon, Purdue assistant vice president for student affairs who is coordinating the effort. "Having just launched our online AlcoholEdu curriculum, we'll be able to share our results with the others. As we continue to shape our new medical amnesty policy and procedures, the input of those who have gone before us will be helpful."
The July workshop also engendered enthusiasm, he said. Ideas brought forward range from developing alcohol-free student activities before football games to a concerted effort to make everyone aware of the signs of high-risk drinking and alcohol poisoning.
"This blends well with our medical amnesty initiative," Gordon said. "Peers can help if they know what to look for."
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person's blood alcohol content (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume five or more drinks and women consume four or more drinks in about two hours.
"Many people are surprised to learn what constitutes a single drink," Gordon said. "One drink is defined as 5 ounces of wine, a standard-size can of beer or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor."
According to NIAAA, the critical symptoms of acute alcohol poisoning are:
* Mental confusion, stupor, coma or person cannot be roused
* Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute)
* Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
* Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color or paleness
Almost 2,000 college students in the United States die each year from alcohol-related injuries. An estimated 600,000 students are injured while under the influence, according to NIAAA research. At Purdue, the most recent survey found slightly less than 30 percent of students are at risk as a result of high-risk and binge drinking.
The interim medical amnesty policy, called PurdueCARES (Purdue Community Alcohol-Related Emergency Situation Program), went into effect this summer.
The policy is for the West Lafayette campus and, as presently worded, states: "In cases of student intoxication and/or alcohol poisoning that occur on the West Lafayette campus, on the premises of a recognized student organization or at a function sponsored by a recognized student organization, the intoxicated student, as well as the student(s) seeking medical attention on the intoxicated student's behalf, will be exempt from disciplinary sanction related to alcohol consumption."
If evidence exists to suggest they violated Indiana laws or university regulations, student organizations would not be not exempt from discipline, but the policy states that "the willingness of the members involved to seek medical assistance for a member or a guest will be viewed as a mitigating factor in determining a sanction for any violations of university regulations."
The policy was one of several initiatives brought forward by Purdue Student Government in 2010-11. The policy is interim pending input from the University Senate.
Writer: Jeanne Norberg, 765-494-2084, email@example.com
Source: Lee Gordon, 765-494-0246, firstname.lastname@example.org