Resources available for students wrestling with alcoholism issues

Alcoholism is defined as a disorder characterized by the excessive consumption of and dependence on alcoholic beverages, leading to physical and psychological harm and impaired social and vocational functioning.

A recent Medline Plus report found the number of people negatively affected by alcohol rises on a consistent basis. As time progresses, an increasing number of individuals from ages 18-24 will be faced with the problem of resisting alcohol.

Although the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has reported more than 1,400 college student deaths as a result of alcohol-related accidents, college students continue to be victimized by the harmful effects that alcohol produces. 

Medline Plus also indicated that alcoholism can lead to many medical complications like depression, heart muscle damage, nerve damage, insomnia, high blood pressure and increased incidences of cancer.

Although many negative complications exist, alcoholism is still prevalent among college campuses.

There are many theories as to why alcohol remains a hot commodity on college campuses. Henry Onubogu, assistant director of counseling services at the University, said there are numerous reasons why students opt to drink, including peer pressure, stress, anxiety, perceived inadequacy or low self-worth and lower inhibitions.

“Regardless of the predisposing factors or causes, reliance or dependence on alcohol may create more problems than one is trying to solve,” Onubogu said.

“Students have their own personal opinion towards the consumption of alcohol.”

Fahad Islam, 22, a junior biology student from Fort Lauderdale, said he does not think alcohol consumption is a serious problem among FAMU students.

“Overall, I believe that FAMU students are responsible and drink socially, and because alcohol is not allowed on campus, it limits the access of alcohol to some extent for those under 21 and those who stay on campus,” Islam said.

For students who may have trouble resisting alcohol, there are local training and rehabilitation programs such as Turn About.

Turn About is an advocacy agency in Tallahassee that provides training, education and counseling services to undergraduate young adults who have alcohol-related behavioral problems.

Barbara Gilbertson, the executive director of Turn About, said she believes the tragedy behind alcohol is that it takes away the users’ freedom of choice.

She said the big problem with alcoholism is not simply handling consumption, but wanting to handle consumption.

“Alcohol shortchanges the life of a student and dramatically limits their self-control,” said Gilbertson. “Effective treatment would be the ideal solution in curbing alcoholism amongst college students.”

The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that alcohol treatment has been a major unmet need.

In 2002, 1.4 million youth met the criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence, but only 227,000 actually received any treatment for these problems.

However, because of the variety of resources available, students have the ability to seek help.

Onubogu said the FAMU Counseling Services Office has intensified its outreach program to enlighten students on the potential consequences and hazards associated with the use of alcohol.

Every FAMU student is entitled to 12 free sessions of counseling each semester. University officials also note off-campus aid.

“There are off-campus counseling and rehabilitation resources in the city of Tallahassee, where individuals who have addictive problems can seek help,” Onubogu said. “The use or consumption of alcohol by students is a challenge that transcends all colleges and universities.”