Senior Alex Vincent had to attend AA meetings all summer after his parents realized his grades had dropped drastically. They thought he was partying too much and had him go to the meetings as a preventative measure. He said he didn’t think he had an alcohol problem, but the meetings helped open his eyes to the seriousness and danger of alcoholism.
“I liked those meetings,” Vincent said. “Those people tell the truth, and it was really eye opening for me. It made [me] realize I want to finish school and not drink too much.”
Drinking on college campuses is an issue that has been discussed and debated by universities all over the country. Most universities focus on safety and alcohol awareness to reduce the chances of death from alcohol poisoning or alcohol-related deaths by making the information available to students about the dangers of drinking, but alcoholism can be overlooked.
Brandi Brown, a dining services manager for three years, said she has worked with employees who have had issues with alcohol.
“When you start to show up late to work, or miss work or show up to work drunk, then you have a problem,” Brown said. “We don’t care what you do off the clock, but when it starts affecting what you do on the clock, then it’s a problem. We know students party, but if it’s affecting them working, we can’t allow that and technically it’s not our place, but usually if it gets that far, they need help.”
A recent Harvard University study found that 6% of college students meet the criteria for alcohol dependence. Alcoholism is defined by alcoholism-and-drug-addiction-help.com as a condition in which a dependence on alcohol harms a person’s health, social functioning or family life.
Head of New Student Programs, Michael Richardson, faces the issue of alcoholism in students on a regular basis. He said the university is always trying to think of new ways to help students who face issues like addiction and substance dependence.
“The threat of alcoholism in college students is at an all-time high,” Richardson said. “Countless students have no idea they have an alcohol problem and think they are just being a college kid and having fun. It is a never-ending concern for Radford University.”
Freshman Shawn Longwood said he drinks to get drunk often and has blacked out several times, which can both be signs of alcoholism.
“I’m not worried about being an alcoholic,” he said. “I’m just partying, man. I mean, I’m in college at Radford. I’m just trying to have fun.”
In recent years, Radford University has made an effort to educate students on the dangers of underage and binge drinking. The death of Radford University student Sam Mason due to alcohol poisoning in 2010 helped raise awareness and made the dangers real for many students. Programs have been set up so students will be more aware. In 2009, the university implemented the alcohol.edu program, where students take a short online class about alcohol awareness and they have to pass the class before they can register for classes. If students get a drug or alcohol charge at RU, they are also required to take an alcohol/substance abuse class, and they have the option of individual counseling as well. If a student feels they need counseling, the Substance Abuse and Violence Education Support (SAVES) office has counselors available for help and support.