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Fall quarter sees rise in alcohol emergencies

In the beginning weeks of fall quarter, 16 students were transported to the hospital for alcohol-related incidents, said Ralph Castro, manager of the Substance Abuse Prevention Program at Vaden Health Center. The number represents an increased rate from the 61 total transports reported during the 2009-10 school year and is of growing concern among administrators and dorm staff.

Castro said there is a common trend to the incidents.

Source: Ralph Castro (TANIA ANAISSIE/The Stanford Daily)

“This is the fifth year we’ve been collecting this data pretty systematically,” Castro said. “In every case I’ve reviewed…the number-one determinant for people going to the emergency room is too much hard liquor–too many shots, repeated shots, in a short amount of time.”

Seven freshmen were transported to the hospital in the last four weeks, compared to the total of 27 freshman incidents last year. Prior to arrival on campus, all freshmen are required to complete the AlcoholEdu program, which recently received four more years of funding. But some are concerned that the mandatory program isn’t serving its purpose.

“Despite the fact that we have AlcoholEdu and stuff, a lot of people don’t necessarily know their limits–where social drinking stops and binge drinking begins,” said one resident assistant (RA) in a freshman dorm. He wished to remain anonymous to protect the identities of two freshmen who were transported to the hospital from his dorm.

The Department of Public Safety has given four citations between Sept. 15 and Oct. 14: two public drunkenness citations and two minor-in-possession citations, said department spokesman Bill Larson.

The department remains on message regarding the drinking age. “The law requires that you be at least 21 years of age to purchase or consume alcohol,” Larson said in an e-mail to The Daily.

Source: Ralph Castro (TANIA ANAISSIE/The Stanford Daily)

The statistics show that freshmen are not the only contributors to this sharp increase in transports. According to Castro, of the 16 that have occurred so far, six were sophomores and three were juniors. Transports were evenly divided between men and women.

There have been a number of theories on why the increase has occurred, but Castro said it is “difficult to gauge what’s going on this early in the quarter.” He said Stanford’s “grassroots” safety measures must improve.

“We need a better grassroots effort of students looking out for each other, and, first of all, for themselves,” Castro said.

In every alcohol-related transport this year, there were other students present who could have “done something before it happened,” he said.

“If somebody had a bottle of Advil and they were just putting them in their mouths one at a time, somebody would step in and go, ‘What are you doing? That’s not healthy; that’s not OK,’” Castro said. “People should look at alcohol as a drug, as an intoxicant…it leads to being poisoned. It leads to overdose. People need to understand and respect alcohol as such.”

He said Vaden and Stanford have some work to do themselves.

“We probably need to do a better job of getting some information out there to students about that, to let them know that you can’t take multiple shots of alcohol in a short amount of time and expect to function later,” Castro said. “That’s not an appropriate use of alcohol.”

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