Social Choices In College: Make Them Count!

By Joel Ingersoll, Special for  USDR

It’s one of the most exciting, anticipated times of summer. College students are beginning to pack up and arrive on their college campuses.  It’s an awesome time to be on college campuses, vibrant, lively, and full of energy.   Students are meeting new and old friends, figuring out the buildings where classes are held, and attending informative orientation programs. It’s easy to get caught up in the momentum and energy of the start of the fall  semester.

In every college semester, a critical aspect of student success and fulfillment concerns students’ social choices.  Across college campuses, emphasis on making healthy social choices are consistently promoted throughout the semester.   Unfortunately college students often minimize the potential impact their social choices can have on academic performance, personal life, and career goals.  This occurs in particular with choices associated with alcohol use.  In my 15 years of working on college campuses, I assessed, counseled, and discussed the risks associated with alcohol and other drugs with thousands of students.  The impact of choices to use alcohol and other drugs ranged from mandated counseling experiences, fines, legal charges, hospitalization, suspension, expulsion, development of further addiction, and referral to rehabilitation  programs.

Did you know that in 2013 there were nearly 40,000 arrests and 165,000 disciplinary actions related to alcohol and other drugs (AOD) on college campuses? Check out details at  www.Projectknow.com

Information about the risks of excessive alcohol consumption is available in many forms across college campuses.  Online educational programs, websites, lectures, course offerings, awareness programming, and outreach services highlight many of the ways colleges communicate critical information to students and the campus community.  Additionally, many colleges have a designated Alcohol & Other Drugs (AOD) Coordinator on staff providing assessments, educational programming, and counseling for AOD related concerns and violations of the Student Code of Conduct.  Usually this professional works in either your school’s Counseling Center or in Health Services. These are excellent resources to seek  out.

Heading into the 2015 fall semester increase your awareness of the potential impact of your social choices on your health, performance, personal life, and  career.

Consider these TOC highlighted points and tips should you choose to drink  alcohol.

  1. The number of drinks consumed in an hour is a key factor to the effects of alcohol! If you choose to drink limit yourself to 1 per hour.
  2. Note that one of the first functions that becomes quickly impaired with excessive drinking is the ability to make sound social choices.  The more consumed the worse it gets.
  3. Consider your motive for drinking? If your answer is: “To get drunk” or some other version of this statement; “Everybody is drinking”; “I’m stressed,” “depressed,” or “anxious” you may be setting yourself up for drinking to excess and aversive consequences.
  4. Note the momentum of the social scene. Take care not to get caught up in momentum, especially when you are being mindful of #1.
  5. Your blood alcohol content (BAC) continues to rise even when you stop drinking. Take action and stick to #1, you’ll feel much better in the morning and lower the risks of aversive consequences.
  6. Know your “Green Zone!!” This is your BAC ZONE and it’s based on height, weight, and gender.  Check out www.baczone.com for details and download the free App onto your smartphone for easy reference.
  7. If you are taking medication for anxiety and/or depression they are likely to enhance the effects of alcohol sooner than expected.  This means judgement becomes compromised sooner too.
  8. Your friends have good reasons for declining shots of alcohol. These are your friends and may have very good reasons to decline alcohol use. Respect them.
  9. NOT EVERYONE on your campus drinks alcohol, gets drunk, or experiences blackouts. This is a MYTH.
  10. Stick together with friends and commit to #1, #4, #6, #8!

Have a safe fall  semester!

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.