Discussion on alcohol held in Student Center

Heartfelt wines owner and winemaker Dan Morgan pours Syrah wine from a 2011 barrel during the Winter Solstice Wine Tasting and Grilled Cheese event at Treasure Island Wines on Treasure Island in San Francisco on Dec. 21, 2013. Treasure Island Wines shares the warehouse with other wineries: Heartfelt Wines, Eristavi Wines, Bravium/Artisan Wines and Conduit Wines. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group/MCT)

Imagine inserting a vodka-soaked tampon or giving yourself an alcoholic enema just to get inebriated. People have done it – and if it sounds deadly, well, it is.

Alcohol was the topic of discussion in Student Center room 310 at Tuesday night’s “Don’t Blame It on the Alcohol,” which was just one of the Safety Week events hosted by Eastern Michigan University’s Student Government. The affair gave students a chance to ask questions about medical amnesty on campus and the dangers of consuming too much alcohol, among other things.

Guest speakers at the event included EMU’s Wellness Center program coordinator, Kathy Walz, the director of student conduct, Jesus Hernandez and the EMU Department of Public Safety crime prevention police officer, Candace Dorsey.

Walz has presented lectures to students before about the harmful effects of alcohol and how to help friends and loved ones if situations are getting out of hand. Dorsey has worked with Walz as a presenter for educational lectures for a more “positive experience” on campus. Both have hosted many safety seminars.

Andrea Baird, an EMU student majoring in early childhood education, said she attended the event to further educate herself on the dangers of consuming too much and learn how to be smart about drinking in the first place.

Kelsey Crager, EMU student majoring in occupational therapy, agreed, saying she also needed more education about the effects of alcohol consumption and how to help others if they are too inebriated.

“The only way to learn how to drink is to drink,” Walz said.

She also said that people should never have more than one drink an hour and never more than three in a 24-hour period. Walz added a few tips to remember when consuming alcohol, including not getting drunk in the first place, not drinking underage and absolutely not drinking and driving.

Walz also said that if a student believes they might have a drinking problem or an addiction, he or she can go to the Wellness Center to receive help from one of the available counselors.

She added that it can be difficult to talk to friends and loved ones who are under the influence. At the Wellness Center, people are taught how to deal with others during different scenarios that can happen.

“Safety first,” Walz said. “Do your best to coax them. People get angry, nasty when they drink. Talk about it with them the next day, but not in an accusatory way, but as a friend.”

Dorsey said the unpopular option is to call 911 for a friend or loved one who has had too much to drink.

“After you’ve pleaded with them while they’re drunk, especially if they’re under 21, call 911 or an ambulance,” she said. “This might get them to recognize they have a problem.”

One audience member questioned whether or not it’s a myth that after only one drink, a person is OK to drive.

“It’s fiction. You still can’t drive properly,” Dorsey said in response to the question.

With that on the table, Hernandez said, “You don’t want to get pulled over. Talking to the officers is not a pleasant experience.”

Another question from the audience was whether or not people can get drunk by consuming alcohol-soaked gummy bears.

Walz confirmed that is one way to get intoxicated.

“But that’s still not safe,” she said.

According to Walz, years of alcohol abuse can alter one’s physical appearance for the worst and make one appear to age faster. Long-term effects include liver and kidney diseases, broken blood vessels, cell swelling and constant skin flushing.

Dorsey said most people can’t prevent their friends from drinking, but the school has programs, lectures and other literature that can be given to a concerned person.

“It’s an individual choice,” Dorsey said about drinking. “If a person has a problem, be supportive.”

Dorsey also warned the audience about the dangers of drinking alone. According to her, an inebriated person walking across campus alone in the middle of the night is more vulnerable to getting robbed, assaulted or worse.

She said students drinking alone can also have an accident and knock themselves unconscious, sit down for a break and pass out in temperatures in the negative numbers or even lose their way and end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

EMU student Raynard Tankard, majoring in electronic media and film, wanted more information about what to do to help friends.

When it came to questioning one’s ability to consume alcohol and their limitations, Tankard said, “Depends on who you are and of what drinking age if you tend to get rowdy. My friends are talkers when they drink and don’t get rowdy or violent.”

For more information about safe alcohol consumption or help with a drinking problem, contact the Wellness Center at 734-487-2226 or go to emich.edu/wellness center.

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