|Tuesday, October 20, 1998||
Volume 64, Issue 41
|Survey shows high
student drug and alcohol abuse
By Sonal Patel
UH is collaborating with 3,000 campuses nationwide to honor the Cougar Alcohol and Drug Awareness Week, to reinforce responsible attitudes towards drinking and drug-use and to reinforce respect for current state laws and school policies.
The National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week (NCAAW) is sponsored by the Wellness Center, designated Greek organizations and speakers from the Houston Council of Alcoholism.
Drug and alcohol abuse is one of the main components that deter students' health, according to a survey of students at 140 colleges by researchers from the Harvard University School of Public Health. Several misconceptions surrounding peer use of alcohol and drugs pose as the reason that college students actually abuse them.
According to the survey, 44 percent of the students reported binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row for men, four or more for women during the past two weeks). Half of all males binged, compared with 39 percent of females. At almost one-third of the colleges surveyed, more than half of the students reported binge drinking.
Although women were found to drink less than men on average, the survey suggested that they are steadily catching up. The number of college women who drink to get drunk has increased from 10 to 35 percent in the past 10 years, according to the survey.
"What has set this program apart and contributed to its growth is its approach," said Dr. Edward Hammond, NCAAW's chairman and president of Fort Hays State University in Kansas. "Ultimately, this isn't about alcohol, but attitudes. We don't preach. We educate, and we empower students to take responsibility for their own decisions and environment.
"Most kids learn to drink during their high school years. After graduation, when they begin living away from home, their consumption increases," he said.
In general, the heaviest drinking occurs between the age of 18 and 24. College students of that age are more likely to drink, and to drink heavily, than their peers who do not attend college.
"I think it's extremely important that we do this (participate in the NCAAW)," said Colleen Timbre, a freshman in sociology. "We should be forced to wake up and be aware about things like these."
Colleges reported nearly 1,000 violent crimes on campus in 1994, including 20 murders. In one-half to two-thirds of campus homicides, and serious assaults, alcohol is present in the offender, the victim or both. According to one study, nine out of ten of all reported campus rapes occurred when alcohol was used by the assailant or the victim.
Cougar Alcohol and Drug Awareness week will last until Oct. 29. Information concerning the week may be obtained by calling the Wellness Center at (713) 743-5455.
Reach Patel at
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