A warning for freshmen: be careful when partying

Alcohol can be dangerous. Binge drinking or alcohol abuse can lead to alcohol poisoning. Dependence on alcohol, or alcoholism, is a chronic disease where your body is dependent upon alcohol; it can be treated but not cured.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), alcohol abuse meets one of the following criteria, over the course of a year: role impairment (failing work and home obligations), hazardous use (driving under the influence), legal problems or social/interpersonal problems as a result of use.

Signs of alcohol poisoning:

• Irregular breathing

• Low body temperature

• Seizures

• Vomiting

• Passing out

• Pale skin

If you think you are suffering from alcohol poisoning or see that a friend is, call 911 and get help immediately. Even if you are under age, some colleges have Good Samaritan policies. Don’t be afraid to do the right thing; your friend’s life might depend on it.

Alcohol dependence, according to the DSM, meets at least three of the following criteria, over the period of a year:

increased tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, drinking more than intended, failed attempts to cut down on drinking, excessive time related to alcohol (getting drunk, hangover), impaired activities or use despite physical or psychological consequences.

Signs of alcohol dependence:

• Drinking alone or in secret

• Not being able to limit alcohol intake

• Losing interest in activities

• Blacking out

• Physical withdrawal symptoms (shaking, sweating)

• Keeping alcohol in unlikely places (car, bathroom)

• Drinking to feel normal

If you or a friend is dependent on alcohol, find out where Alcoholics Anonymous meets in your area and go to meetings. You also can call The National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). If your dependence on alcohol is full-blown, rehab may be the best way to treat it. Do not be ashamed in seeking help for your addiction.


Parties are a common part of college life. Follow these tips to keep you safe

when you are going to the next college party.

• Don’t go out alone; go out with friends.

• Get your own drinks; you shouldn’t drink anything when you don’t know where it came from.

• Don’t set your drink down and if you do, go get a new one. Someone may have slipped something into it.

• Set a fixed number of drinks you plan to have that night and stick to it.

• Know the game plan for the night; make sure you have somewhere to stay if you have too much to drink.

• Keep a local cab company’s number in your phone and cash in your pocket in case you need a ride home that night.

• Keep an eye out for your friends. If you think your friend has had too much to drink, make sure he or she doesn’t accept more drinks.

• Don’t take part in drinking contests.

• Drink slowly; pace yourself.

• Don’t mix alcohol with any other drugs, including prescription medications.

• Eat before you drink.

• Drink water in between alcoholic beverages.

Amanda Knowles

and Amanda Lilly, McClatchy-Tribune