July 2012

Promoting Awareness and Wellness (PAWs)

Ashford University is proud to show you our PAWs. That is, our Promoting Awareness and Wellness initiative! Every month, we'll highlight different causes and opportunities that reflect the values of the University. You'll also learn ways that you can participate or be more involved.

 

JUly 2012 – Holiday Alcohol Awareness: Stay Safe While You Celebrate

Although alcohol is enjoyed at many Fourth of July celebrations, it can become destructive when not used in
moderation.


One of the first things many of us associate with the month of July is celebrating Independence Day on July fourth. Memories of childhood celebrations usually invoke the flash of fireworks and the smell of a barbecue. However, there is a less pleasant element to July fourth celebrations that is most commonly presented through local news broadcasts and police statistics.

Alcohol consumption spikes during the summer months and is a particular concern during July fourth celebrations (Underage Drinking, 2011). And excessive drinking behaviors are not limited to teenagers or young adults. According to a recent study, these behaviors are now more prominent among middle-aged counterparts than previously recognized (New Middle-Aged Crisis, 2009). This month, we’ll explore some of the facts about alcohol consumption and provide you with some tips for staying safe while you celebrate.

Binge Drinking

Binge Drinking When people hear the term “binge drinking,” thoughts of peer pressure, impressionable young adults, and movies with out-of-control college parties may spring to mind. However, the American Journal of Psychiatry completed a recent study reporting that 23 percent of men and 9 percent of women aged 50 to 64 disclosed that they met the threshold for binge drinking within the past month (New Middle-Aged Crisis, 2009).

But what does binge drinking really mean? Binge drinking is considered by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to be any alcohol consumption that leads to a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 percent or higher, a number that generally equates to 5 or more drinks in one occasion. This percentage is also the legal driving limit and the point at which the law states that a person is no longer legally able to safely operate a motor vehicle (Fact Sheet, n.d.).

In order to better understand just why these figures matter, consider the dangers that are associated specifically with binge drinking. Binge drinking can negatively affect a person’s health in many ways, in that it can:

  • Result in attention and memory impairment
  • Impact an individual’s ability to make decisions, which can lead to increases in risk-taking behavior
  • Increase potential for violent behavior and other behaviors that can result in injury to self or others

Driving Under the Influence - DUI

While most people know that driving under the influence of alcohol isn’t safe, a 2009 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report’s statistics truly demonstrate the impact of drunk driving:

  • One in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime.
  • 208 children aged 14 and under were killed by drunk drivers.
  • Of all the fatal traffic accidents that year, about one third involved a driver with a BAC of 08 percent or higher.
  • The total number of fatalities involving a drunk driver was 10,839.
  • 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive drunk on a suspended license.
  • Each minute, one person is injured from an alcohol-related crash.
(2009 Drunk Driving, 2011)

Thanks to Right Step.com for these ideas for engaging in safer celebrations:

No Alcohol? Manage Guest Expectations

What’s the Fourth of July holiday without a barbecue with your friends and family? If you are planning on having an alcohol-free party this holiday, or for any get-together over the summer, make it clear up front to the guests that there will be no alcohol available. By casually informing your guests that you don’t plan on serving alcohol, they will not come with any prior expectations about drinking and they won’t be leaving disappointed.

Plan Early Events

Nighttime parties and alcohol often go together, so try instead throwing your parties earlier in the day. During the summer, daytime events focus on the nice weather and outdoor activities, so don’t be afraid to suggest an afternoon picnic.

Include the Kids

For many adults, the presence of children discourages acts of heavy drinking. By inviting the entire family to join in on the fun, you are sending a polite message that alcohol is not the focus. Focusing on the kids will help all your guests create meaningful holiday memories.

The staff and faculty members of Ashford University want you to stay safe this month, so if you do decide to drink, please do so responsibly.

Ashford University Faculty Spotlight – Eric Klein

College of Health, Human Services, and Science

Eric Klein

Assistant Professor Eric Klein, a new addition to Ashford’s faculty, has worked as a counselor, psychologist, program director, advocate, and author in the area of substance use and abuse. Holding a BA in Psychology and a PhD in Clinical Psychology, Dr. Klein provided individual and group counseling services to students at Lehigh University as a Clinical Psychologist and also served as their Director of Alcohol, Substance Use, and Addiction Programs.

According to Dr. Klein, “Unfortunately, alcohol misuse among college students across the country is prevalent and is associated with substantial harms.” Harms can include being injured as well as experiencing interpersonal violence, unintended or unprotected sexual activity, sexual victimization, property damage, and decreased academic performance.

While alcohol misuse is prevalent and harmful, it is also preventable and treatable. Dr. Klein takes an integrative harm reduction approach to therapy, which is a personalized treatment for alcohol misuse that does not require abstinence. Instead, all positive changes are viewed as successes, and reducing, moderating, using more safely, and stopping the alcohol misuse behaviors are all seen as acceptable goals on the path towards positive change, healing, and growth.

“This type of approach evolved out of my experience helping people with alcohol misuse problems and the full range of related human issues. It also reflects my commitment to finding more effective solutions to alcohol misuse, and I hope to continue to pursue that area of research interest at Ashford.”

Dr. Klein recommends that Ashford students who choose to drink this Fourth of July, or any other time, consume no more than one drink per hour, and alternate alcoholic with non-alcoholic drinks. “I would also encourage you to use a buddy system, and to watch out for your friends and family members and ask that they watch out for you. Additionally, I would always ensure that there is a designated, non-drinking driver who is trustworthy and able to take you home if you are drinking. Finally, I would encourage you to be aware of the signs of alcohol poisoning, and to get help immediately for anyone who may be in need of medical attention.”

Resources:

Alcoholism Statistics (n.d.). Retrieved on June 6, 2012 from http://www.alcoholaddiction.info/alcoholism-statistics.htm

Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved on June 6, 2012 from http://www.madd.org/statistics/

2009 Drunk Driving Statistics. (2011). Retrieved on June 6, 2012 from http://www.alcoholalert.com/drunk-driving-statistics.html

http://www.rightstep.com/blog/4-tips-for-an-alcohol-free-summer.html

Fact Sheet: The Dangers of Binge Drinking. (n.d.) Retrieved on June 6, 2012 from http://public.health.oregon.gov/HealthyPeopleFamilies/Women/PreconceptionHealth/FetalAlcoholSyndrome/Documents/dangers_of_binge_drinking.pdf

Underage Drinking ER Visits Double July Fourth Weekend. (2011). Retrieved on June 6, 2012 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/04/july-fourth-alcohol-teen-boys-er_n_888889.html

New Middle-Aged Crisis: Drinking Over 50. (2009) Retrieved on June 6, 2012 from http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/MensHealthNews/story?id=8341707

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