Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Higher Ed & Alcohol Info Graphic

AFD loading intoxicated student at the Umass Visitors Center early November

For my regular readers this is a kind of a "Well, duh" dog-bites-man story, but the charts graphically illustrate the sad, dangerous trend of alcohol abuse at our institutes of higher education -- the town's number one industry.

 Overall substance abuse calls:

Overall substance abuse calls make up 10% of AFD medical emergency responses

However, looking at the College and University of Massachusetts at Amherst our flagship of higher education and number one employer in town:

 Over one quarter of all emergency responses to UMass are for drugs/alcohol abuse

Amherst College kids are no better behaved when it comes to drugs/alcohol

Hampshire College comes in last for alcohol/drug abuse

Even worse, the numbers clearly indicate the problem is getting worse. 

Comparison of last two fall semesters (Tom Valle graph)

What say you UMass, Hampshire College and Amherst College?


Walter Graff said...

You could lay any of those graphs over any school in the country and they would be the same.

In fact according to NIDA"Trends in College Drinking" on campus habits are no different now than they were in 2002. Actually they are down slightly.

The problem of drinking and doing drugs on campus has little to do with grades, income or social status. It's a major problem and it isn't trending any worse, it's always been bad. But it should be noted that binge drinking is actually down 13% since 1991 according to the 2012 Monitoring the Future Study.

My perosnal belief is that as you eliminate the ability for students to have places to go to socialize other than a house or dorm party, you increase the problem related to drinking. Amherst isn't much for supplying a social scene for students and when that happens, drinking becomes more prevalent.

Actually if you look at drinking trends on colleges in small town vs larger towns/cities that offer more social scenes you will see that drinking issues are greater in places where kids have fewer social options.

Walter Graff said...

And by the way, when I first opened the page and saw the top of photo with ambulance flashers and the title that said "Higher Ed" I thought the story that will one day grace this page was finally here.

Anonymous said...

Lower the drinking age back to 18.
That will reduce binge drinking on campuses.
That is the only realistic solution.

Steven D. Brewer said...

Not to discount the gravity of substance abuse, your graphs make a misleading comparison. You should expect substance abuse to be a larger component for a younger population, other things being equal, because they don't have the health issues of an aging population.

Anonymous said...

have you done research if calls have increased and by how much since university health services has reduced its hours. it used to be open 24/7. now on weekends only open 4 to 6 hours in afternoon.

Anonymous said...

"Lower the drinking age back to 18.
That will reduce binge drinking on campuses.
That is the only realistic solution."

LOL. not really

Dr. Ed said...

To expand upon Steve Brewer's very valid point, you really need to have actuarial data not unlike the data that anticipates the risk that any particular individual will have an auto accident in any given year (which is what insurance rates are based on).

Given the number of young people in each of the colleges, using the national statistics, what is the anticipated number of ETOH/Drug ambulance runs -- and then is the actual number above or below that?

It's kinda like saying that you're going to have more pregnancies amongst a group of female students than amongst a group of male students....

Dr. Ed said...

Two other things:

First, Walter is right on student drinking being inversely proportional to social activiites. I was once a RD at a college so remote that Moose would often be wandering around campus, and the nearest Dunkin Donuts was a 2 hour drive (one way).

All those kids did was drink -- mind-boggling amounts in some cases. And the point on the 18-year-old drinking age is valid but for a different reason -- because they are underaged, the college kids now have to drink in secret, away from the moderating presence of university officials --- who have also gone from being advisers to enforcers.

Jack Wilson and others understood this, and that is what the Amethyst Project was all about -- realizing that abstinence wasn't working, and that the greater good would be responsible drinking than what we have now, the intent was to advocate responsible drinking.

Now that got defeated and Jack's gone -- there are some people in charge of the UMass (system) with some really fascist views on things (and rather bizarre ones on mental health, and these are people with enough of a background to know better).

Second -- if Walter's snarky comment meant what I think it did, he needs to remember that university administrators can have mental health issues as well. (We won't get into if, umm, if they already do.

I have a pretty good idea what the mere convening of a Federal Grand Jury would do (psychologically) to quite a few of those folk -- folk who have been immune from criticism let alone accountable for so long that they would crumble even if they hadn't done a lot of things they'd never be able to justify.

So Walter, you may well see ambulances at the front door of Whitmore, but maybe not for quite the reason you anticipate.

Dr. Ed said...

I also will say this -- and have said it in print before -- UMass has an alcohol problem for the same reason that the former Soviet Union had an alcohol problem.

A human being can only bite his/her/its tongue so much -- students are treated quite terribly at UMass and abusing alcohol is a way for them to deal with it.

Of course, I also maintain that drugs are a much bigger problem.

Anonymous said...

These graphs make me really want to eat a pie. 70% cherry, 25% raspberry, 5% vodka.

80 proof pie. I should coin that term...

Anonymous said...

I guess according to Ed's argument the entire country must be feeling oppressed by the UMASS staff:


Anonymous said...

how are students treated badly?

Anonymous said...

I wonder whether the problem of alcohol abuse at the local colleges is getting worse or whether it just seems that way because of advances in communication (eg kids have cell phones and can call for help) and means of disseminating data have increased (as well as people willing to disseminate the data) and greater education and awareness on the part of students about how dangerous alcohol can be, so they make the call. The charts obviously do not include data on kids who have imbibed too much and their friends didn't call for help. Obviously the problem of not enough fire and emergency personnel is getting worse, but again it might be because more kids are calling for professional help rather than their peers trying to help them.