Alcohol Abuse Grips UT

Seven cases of alcohol poisoning were reported in the first two weeks of school, surpassing last year’s total of about five for the entire 2005-2006 academic year.

The incidents, which occurred prior to September 7, were reported under varying circumstances, ranging from hospitalization and calls from concerned students to UT Security being dispatched. The majority of the seven students were freshmen, who typically live in dry dorms on campus.

Dean of Students Bob Ruday expressed dismay with the number of alcohol poisonings that have occurred this year, saying, “We want to educate students as to how this can kill them.” He added, “For the most part, our students are very responsible.”

Despite the national drinking age of 21, the Harvard School of Public Health’s College Alcohol Study details that 63 percent of underage students report drinking.

“Nationally, colleges and universities are seeing a great number of students who exhibit high-risk drinking” said Ruday.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that 1,400 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from unintentional alcohol-related injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.

Apparently, 500,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol, and more than 600,000 students, annually, are assaulted by students who have been drinking, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

First and most obvious, inebriation lowers inhibition, increasing the likelihood that people would do things they wouldn’t normally consider or drink more than intended. Drinking excessively can also shut down the nervous responses that control breathing. Alcohol is processed even while people are sleeping, so while passed out, blood alcohol levels can escalate to a case of alcohol poisoning or to a fatal degree.

The Dean of Students’ office is currently collaborating with Student Government to organize additional programs in response to the recent alcohol poisonings.

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