Alcohol & UNO – Crisis on campus?

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By Jasmine Maharisi – News Editor

If you take a look at the UNO Campus Security crime log, you’ll notice a dangerous trend involving alcohol and alcohol-related activity. With so many violations, UNO students may wonder if their school fosters a safe, healthy environment.

Before jumping to conclusions, perhaps it’s best to become educated about terms associated with alcohol consumption. While the words “alcoholism” and “dependency” are thrown around in high school health classes, the difference between the two is worth repeating.

According to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, alcohol dependency is diagnosed when one or more of the following is present: a pattern of alcohol use that interferes with major obligations related to work, school or home continued alcohol use despite recurrent problems with social and interpersonal relationships continued alcohol use despite recurrent legal problems

While this may appear to be a pretty defined area of addiction, it’s not quite as simple, said Nate Bock, a drug and alcohol abuse counselor with UNO’s Counseling Center.

“It’s usually much more complex than a line that gets crossed,” Bock said. “Mainly when people start to destroy the relationships around them, that’s a pretty major sign.”

Alcohol dependency isn’t particularly common among UNO students, Bock said. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem.

“There is a small percentage of college students that would fit that addiction area, between zero to five percent,” Bock said. “People view it as either there’s no problem or an alcohol addiction. But really, there’s a whole gray area in between.”

The term “alcohol abuse” can be confused with “alcohol dependency” or “alcoholism.” According to alcohol-abuse-basics.com, alcohol abuse may appear similar to dependency, but doesn’t cause strong alcohol cravings, high tolerance or physical dependencies. It does, however, contribute to habitual alcohol-related legal problems.

According to the UNO crime log, of the 27 violations reported on-campus between Aug. 20 and Sept. 17, 15 were alcohol-related. Some included underage alcohol violations.

“This didn’t happen when they hit 60th and Dodge streets,” said Marcia Adler, director of Student Health Services. “A lot of these alcohol habits were learned in high school. And if you watch the crime log, you’ll notice a lot of these people aren’t even college students; they’re younger and hanging around a college campus because that’s where there’s people old enough to buy.”

Bock added that students should prepare themselves for those types of situations.

“We don’t know necessarily the entire situation,” he said. “If a student of age is asked to buy alcohol, it’s always important to remember the consequences associated with that. It’s a heavy fine, I think $2,000 to $3,000. I think it’s important people remember that and to let go of the pressure associated with [buying alcohol for minors].”

Neither alcohol abuse nor dependency is at a pandemic level at UNO, Bock said, despite the number of alcohol-related violations in the crime log. he also said that of the 15,000 students who attend campus, 15 alcohol-related violations is a fairly small amount.

That amount may become even smaller as the year continues, said Adler.

“One of things in life, and in general, is [that] we tend to understand these events are going to be on rise with the beginning of school, because people need to re-establish their social pecking orders,” Adler said. “In high school they knew who was the fastest, who was the smartest, but now they have to establish that all over again.”

Overall, the majority of students at UNO don’t struggle with alcohol abuse or dependency.

“When we take a look at what is really going on, there are a large number of students who drink responsibly or don’t drink at all,” Bock said. “We don’t usually see the dangerous blood alcohol levels that give us the negative consequences.”

Dawn Cich is a UNO senior majoring in psychology. While she doesn’t live on or near campus, she understands how alcohol can factor into a student’s day-to-day life. However, she encourages others to be prepared.

“Make a plan about how you are going to get to the bar or party and how you are going to get home,” Cich said “Don’t mess with drunk driving at all.”

Stephanie Bachman, a recent UNO graduate, said she knows all about preparation. In fact, many of her friends would often rely on her to be the sober one when it came to driving.

“I never drank all that much during college,” she said. “I was the designated driver a lot. But when I did drink more, my grades went down. When I didn’t drink my grades went up because I actually went to class instead of sleeping in because of a hangover.”

Bachman added that with the price of tuition at over $5,000 per year, a hangover is quite pricey.

“Going to class with hangovers is worthless,” Bachman said. “You don’t learn anything. You just watch the clock until you can leave and go back to sleep.”

The UNO Counseling Center works with all issues involving alcohol, not just those concerning abuse or dependency, Bock said. This includes smart decision-making and preparation tactics.

“A lot of students will come in and the first thing they’ll say is ‘I’m not an alcoholic,'” Bock said. “That’s fine. We can help with the whole spectrum.”

For more information about alcohol consumption and student life, contact the UNO Counseling Center at 554-2409 or visit counseling.unomaha.edu/alcohol.

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