Alcohol and Other Drugs

Party Smart 21st Birthday Card
Posted by On Tuesday, June 10, 2014

As part of our continuing effort to help you help students with free downloadable resources on our blog, today we’re publishing a creative resource generously shared with us by the University of San Francisco. USF’s Talk About It 21st Birthday Card is a clever way of raising awareness about safe drinking strategies among students who will be drinking (or at least drinking legally) for the first time. The card, which you can print out from the files below to send to your students, includes tips from the “Party Smart” section of our award-winning online training program Think About It, so that when students celebrate their milestone birthday with its newly gained freedoms (and accompanying responsibilities), they’ll be ready to do so safely and responsibly.

  1. Generic Party Smart 21st Birthday Card PDF
  2. Customizable Party Smart 21st Birthday Card Word Document
  3. Customizable Party Smart 21st Birthday Card Adobe Illustrator File

We’ve included not only a PDF of a generic card, but also a Word document and the original Adobe Illustrator file, so that you can customize the card with your school’s name, school colors, emergency services contact information, and anything else you want to add to this informative and important birthday greeting.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, June 6, 2014

This week we’re following up with three stories we reported on in earlier Weekly Roundups.

Alumni Network Battles Sexual Assault

A few weeks ago we reported on alumni who are fighting sexual assault at the alma maters by withholding or diverting donations in protest of ineffective or ill-conceived sexual assault policies. Now, a rapidly growing group of alumni are taking one step further by coordinating their efforts against sexual assault. Alumni activists from the University of Chicago, Yale, Occidental, Columbia, Dartmouth, and numerous other campuses are banding together to figure out how they can use their donations and, in many cases, considerable wealth and influence to positively affect the cultures of the schools they used to call home. This fight has particular urgency for many former student activists, who bemoan the need to fight for change they were calling decades ago.

Bans on Powdered Alcohol

Last month we brought you this story about a new powdered form of alcohol  called “Palcohol” and the problems it could pose for school administrators. Now, at least two states have decided that those issues are enough cause for concern to justify temporary bans on alcohol in powdered form. Vermont banned powdered alcohol last month, and now South Carolina’s House of Representatives, citing concerns about the regulation of alcohol in non-liquid form, have voted unanimously to send a bill banning the powdered versions of various kinds of liquor on to the governor for approval. Unsurprisingly, one of the chief regulatory concerns cited by South Carolina lawmakers was how this product could be used to effectively circumvent laws that define alcohol as a liquid. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer asked the Food and Drug Administration to keep Palcohol out of the hands of underage drinkers, predicting it would become “the Kool-Aid of teen binge drinking.”

U.S. News Says It Won’t Include Sexual Assault Data in College Rankings

We’ve reported on both the pros and the cons of U.S. News and World Report factoring the number of on-campus sexual assaults at a given institution into its college rankings. Following lawmakers’ calls for the publication to begin including sexual assault data in its rankings, U.S. News has issued a definitive decision on the matter. Due to their concerns about the accuracy of such data, and their belief that such information, even if it could be measured accurately, would not be relevant to the rankings’ purpose of determining the academic quality of a given school, U.S. News does not plan to factor sexual assault prevalence into its college rankings now or at any time in the foreseeable future. It will, however, include such information on the online profile page for individual schools and acknowledges the importance of campus safety to students’ college experience.

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Free Drugs Workshop
Posted by On Thursday, May 22, 2014

Our Drugs Workshop is now freely available on the CampusClarity blog, just click on the links to the materials below:

  1. PowerPoint
  2. Discussion Guide
  3. Handout
  4. Handout Answer Key
  5. Assessment
  6. Assessment Answer Key

The workshop addresses drug use by challenging students to consider the issues that might underlie their drug use or that of their peers. By educating students about the history and biological effects of drug use, it helps them understand why people abuse substances and brainstorm ways to avoid harmful behaviors and engage in healthier, alternative behaviors.

If you like this workshop and want more like it, check out our Drinking and Campus Culture Workshop and our Party Smart Workshop.

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Free Drinking and Campus Culture Workshop
Posted by On Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Our Drinking and Campus Culture Workshop is now freely available on the CampusClarity blog, just click on the links to the materials below:

  1. PowerPoint
  2. Discussion Guide
  3. Handout
  4. Handout Answer Key
  5. Assessment
  6. Assessment Answer Key

Studies show that students consistently overestimate how much and how often their peers drink. Such misperceptions can encourage students to drink more by distorting their views of healthy drinking habits and lending dangerous credence to the classic justification for reckless or unhealthy behavior: “Everyone else is doing it.”

The Drinking and Campus Culture Workshop is one hour of live training that not only helps correct these misperceptions and explores their consequences, but also challenges students to find their own ways to correct such misinformation on their own campuses.

If you like this workshop and want more like it, check out our Bystander Intervention Workshop and our Party Smart Workshop.

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Free Party Smart Workshop
Posted by On Wednesday, May 7, 2014

As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month we made our Bystander Intervention workshop freely available here on the CampusClarity blog. That workshop was so well received that we’ve decided to publish another one on Partying Smart strategies. Like the Bystander Intervention workshop, the Party Smart Workshop includes a PowerPoint, handout, assessment, and discussion guide.

Download the materials here:

  1. Party Smart TAI PPT
  2. Party Smart Discussion Guide
  3. Party Smart Handout
  4. Party Smart Handout_Answer Key
  5. Party Smart Assessment
  6. Party Smart Assessment_Answer Key

The Party Smart Workshop focuses on strategies for safe, smart drinking. While total abstention is an effective strategy for many students (surveys show that over 20% of college students have never used alcohol at all), some students do choose to drink. That’s why it’s important that students learn strategies for responsible drinking.

These materials cover crucial information about alcohol and its effects on the body, outline effective strategies for safe drinking, and challenge students to formulate their own plans for partying smart. Please feel free to use them however you see fit, and to share them with anyone you think could make good use of them.

We’ll be releasing more materials in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more free resources!

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, May 2, 2014

Substance abuse is not a new campus safety issue. However, the shape that challenge takes is always changing. This week we’re highlighting three stories about new trends in substance abuse that may very well suggest the challenges college administrators will face in the future.

Marijuana Vaporizers

Just as electronic cigarettes pose a new regulatory challenge, their cannabis cousins, vaporizers, pose an equal challenge to schools determined to curb drug use on campus. A vaporizer can be used to consume marijuana—it heats marijuana flowers or concentrates to around 350 degrees, not hot enough to burn but hot enough to vaporize the psychoactive chemical THC and produce a high every bit as potent as smoking from a joint or a pipe. These devices pose a unique problem for campus administrators. Vaporizers can be as small as a pen, and produce none of the tell-tale skunk-like odor associated with smoking marijuana. As a result, they are easy to use discreetly and hide. In fact, they are virtually indistinguishable from e-cigarettes. With the market for vaporizers growing at a pace usually associated with tech startups, colleges and universities trying to prevent students from getting high on campus will be hard-pressed to find a way to remove vaporizers from their grounds.

Powdered Alcohol

Similar problems are presented by the possibility of widely-available powdered alcohol, a concept that took one step closer to reality when the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) issued the federal approvals necessary for a product called Palcohol to be made and sold in the United States. While the TTB has since said that those approvals were issued “in error,” it’s not clear what that means for the future of Palcohol, and it’s possible that just-add-water margaritas and mojitos could still be coming soon to a liquor store near you, or your campus. Like vaporizers, powdered alcohol could pose a major challenge to schools determined to keep their campuses substance free—it’s not hard to imagine students sneaking small packets of powdered booze to school events in their pockets or bags and then adding them to the punch or water bottles. Powdered alcohol might pose other problems as well. It’s not yet clear what would happen if an intoxicated undergrad tried to snort a packet of Palcohol, or eat it straight, or add half the recommended amount of water, but preventing such scenarios might become a top priority for schools as soon as Palcohol can work out their differences with the TTB.

Heroin on Campus

While marijuana and alcohol are both well-known problems on college campuses (and the traditional focus of prevention programs), few schools consider hard drugs like heroin to be a major problem. Now, however, that’s starting to change, especially for schools located in areas where the use of heroin or other hard drugs is increasing in the larger population. Incidents such as the overdose death of a University of Rochester freshman are prompting administrators to begin expanding their prevention efforts to include hard drugs, a change one campus health center director has described as a “paradigm shift.”. New efforts include screening student patients for hard drug use and making resources available for addicts trying to beat an addiction.

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Why a Recent Court Ruling Forces Students to Rethink a Cover Charge
Posted by On Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Jessica Manosa, a 20-year-old college student, decided to throw a party at her parents’ empty rental home. She bought some booze, cups, and cranberry juice, hired a DJ, and even convinced a friend to play bouncer at the entrance. She told him to charge a few bucks to anyone he didn’t recognize. But once inside, guests could dance to the music and drink freely from the assortment of beer, tequila, and jungle juice. The money collected was used to buy more alcohol for the party.

At some point in the evening Thomas Garcia showed up with his friends. He was already so drunk that he was slurring his words. But he paid the cover charge, and so the bouncer let him inside.

Garcia continued to drink, and soon he and his friends became “rowdy, aggressive, and obnoxious.” They made obscene and threatening comments to women at the party, and at one point, he or a friend dropped his pants.

About this time, Andrew Ennabe, a friend of Manosa, confronted Garcia and crew and kicked them out of the party. As the unruly guests were escorted to their car, one of them spit at Ennabe. This prompted Ennabe to chase the expectorator into the street, but as Garcia drove away he struck Ennabe, killing him.

Ennabe’s parents sued Jessica Manosa and her parents for wrongful death.  On February 24, 2014, the California Supreme Court issued its opinion in Ennabe v. Manosa, concluding that Ennabe’s lawsuit against the Manosas should proceed to trial.

Under California law, generally social hosts who serve alcohol — even to a visibly intoxicated guest — are not liable for any resulting injuries or deaths caused by that person. The California Supreme Court explained this “immunity” applies because, “the consumption of alcohol, not the service of alcohol, is the proximate cause of any resulting injury.”

An exception to this rule, however, applies when someone “sells alcoholic beverages…to an obviously intoxicated minor.” Like Manosa herself, Garcia was under 21 and visibly drunk when he arrived.

But the question posed to the Court was this: did the small entrance fee Manosa charged mean she had “sold” Garcia the alcohol available inside?

Manosa protested that if the Court found her liable for Ennabe’s death, it would destroy the “social fabric of modern life.” The Court bluntly disagreed, “The assertion is exaggerated…in contrast to Manosa…ordinary social hosts do not use bouncers, allow uninvited strangers into their homes, or extract an entrance fee or cover charge from their guests. Nor does maintaining the social fabric of our society depend on protecting from civil liability those persons who would sell alcoholic beverages to minors who are already visibly intoxicated.”

The Court concluded that because Manosa charged an admission fee to her party, which the Court described as a “pop-up nightclub,” she sold alcohol to Garcia, and therefore could be liable for the death of Ennabe.

This ruling will have a profound effect on college parties where the hosts charge even a few bucks at the door. If they provide alcohol to an obviously intoxicated minor at the party, they might find themselves liable for resulting injuries caused or suffered by that drunken guest.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, April 11, 2014

We’ve spent the last couple of weeks focused on content related to sexual violence and sexual violence prevention in recognition of the fact that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. However, as it happens April is also Alcohol Awareness Month, a topic which is, of course, highly relevant to our work here at CampusClarity. This week, we’re briefly shifting gears to highlight some stories related to that topic.

Alcohol Awareness Month

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month every year for the last 27 years with the intention of “reducing the stigma associated with alcoholism that too often prevents individuals and families from seeking help.” This year the NCADD has chosen a theme particularly relevant to higher education: “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.” That theme was chosen in order to draw attention to the detrimental effects of underage and college drinking, a problem which the NCADD says can be addressed at least in part through improved substance abuse education for students.

References to Alcohol in Pop Music Increase Teen Drinking

If you were worried after hearing that research found a quarter of the Top 40 hits from 2009 through 2011 referenced alcohol and glorified heavy drinking, another study justifies your concern. Researchers have found that, even after controlling for factors such as age and parental alcohol use, teens who professed a fondness for pop songs like LMFAO’s “Shots” (“Shots, shots, shots, shots everybody!”) were three times as likely to drink and twice as likely to binge drink when compared to peers who preferred more sober tunes.

Drunk People Can’t Guess Their BAC

Finally, we have this fun but relevant story from the website Cockeyed. By setting up a table on the streets of Sacramento on St. Patrick’s Day, challenging inebriated passersby to guess their own BACs, and then comparing their estimates to the more precise measurements of a Breathalyzer, Rob Cockerham confirmed what most of us probably already suspected: drunk people aren’t very good at estimating just how drunk they actually are.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, March 21, 2014

For the last several weeks we’ve been covering an ongoing national conversation about the dangers and advantages of Greek organizations on college campuses. This week, three stories illustrate the fact that the problems and dilemmas posed by Greek fraternities are not unique to that particular brand of student groups, or even the United States.

Black Fraternities’ Hazing Problem

Most of that ongoing national conversation has focused on fraternities that are largely white, heterosexual, and, naturally, entirely male. But of course there are sororities, as well as black, Asian, Latin, and various professional fraternities and sororities. These groups often face different problems than those faced by predominantly white fraternities, but that doesn’t mean that they are problem free, or should be ignored in a conversation about the dilemmas posed by student groups. A good example is provided by this story about hazing and black fraternities—since the beginning of 2014, more than 17 members of black fraternities at three different universities have been arrested for hazing.

Student Co-op’s Drug Problem

Nor are problems like substance abuse limited to student groups with the word “fraternity” or “sorority” at the end of their name. Take, for example, the latest bit of drama coming from U.C. Berkeley, this time out of its student cooperative system, the largest in the country. Cloyne Court, which is itself the largest housing co-operative in the country, recently settled a lawsuit brought by the family of resident John Gibson, who has been in a drug-induced coma since he overdosed while living at Cloyne in 2010. Faced with “unaffordably high” insurance rates, Berkeley Student Cooperative president said, “We need to make a direct response to this settlement to show our efforts to prevent further incidences and liability. A change needs to happen now.” Radical changes to address what they see as a culture of substance abuse at Cloyne, include evicting all but one of the co-op’s current residents, and rebranding it as an academic-themed, substance-free residence.

Portugal’s Hazing Problem

The drowning deaths of six Portuguese university students in a single hazing (or praxes) incident, has sparked a national debate in that country about whether or not the tradition of hazing first-year students should be banned. Unlike in this country, hazing in Portugal is not associated with student groups, but is instead a general rite of initiation for incoming students, demonstrating that the inclination towards reckless behavior amongst young people is one that cannot be solved simply by targeting specific, or even all, student groups.

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Beware of Fine Wines and Craft Brews
Posted by On Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ever sat down at a bar, had one or two drinks, felt fine, then got up and discovered you could barely stand on two feet? This happens when what we think is one or two drinks turns out to be four or five. A Long Island iced tea, for instance, has five shots of liquor in it!

Usually that kind of mistake is reserved for drinks mixed with hard alcohols like vodka or whiskey. But recently, it seems, beers and wines have been infiltrating the “hard” category too.

According to a recent article in Scientific American, “In the past two decades the maximum alcohol content of wine has crept up from about 13 percent to, in some cases, northward of 17 percent.” Apparently, the surge in popularity for high-alcohol wines traces back to the famous wine critic Robert Parker’s influential praise of the 1982 Bordeaux vintage, increasing the demand for similar, richer fruit flavored wines, which tend to have a higher alcohol content.

In order to produce the same rich, fruit flavored wines but with lower alcohol content, scientists have been “bioprospecting” for new, wild yeast strains that will turn less of the grapes’ sugar to alcohol. And it looks like they might have found one, Metschnikowia pulcherrima.

That’s great news for wine connoisseurs, but wine isn’t the only popular drink that’s getting stronger.

The craft beer movement has also produced some powerful “high gravity” brews. In fact, Tennessee lawmakers are considering changing the law so grocery stores can stock stronger beers. Currently, anything with 6.2% alcohol by volume (ABV) or higher is taxed as liquor and has to be sold through liquor distributors, a major impediment to the growth of the state’s local craft beer industry.

Meanwhile, in Europe there’s been a battle brewing — if you can forgive the pun — over who can craft the strongest beer. The contenders have fantastical names like “Tactical Nuclear Penguin brew,” “End of History,” and “Armageddon.”

Currently, Brewmeister in Scotland wears the title belt with its aptly-named “Snake Venom.” “Snake Venom” is 67.5% ABV or 135 proof. That’s stronger than whiskey and much stronger than your typical college selection of Budweiser and Coors, which weigh in at about 5% ABV. “Snake Venom” is so strong that the brewers tie a yellow warning label on the necks of the bottles.

Our courses pay particular attention to educating students about “one standard drink.” For beer that’s a 12 oz. pour, and for wine, a 5 oz. pour. Of course, all that also depends on how strong your beer and wine are. These standard drinks are estimated for beer that’s roughly 5% ABV and wine that’s roughly 12%. So, as beers and wine get stronger, their standard pours get smaller.

Fortunately, it sounds like some students are aware of these dangers. For instance, we’ve heard second-hand reports of college parties serving only light beers (which tend to have a lower alcohol content) in order to prevent partygoers from getting too intoxicated.

Indeed, it seems unlikely that expensive craft brews and fine wines will be infiltrating campuses full of cash-strapped students. “Snake Venom,” for instance, sells for $80 a bottle. Nonetheless it might be worth an administrator’s time to keep an eye on the popular campus brews.

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