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Speaker says solution to alcohol abuse is education

By : Rabia Muhammad

Though social drinking can be a delightful way to spend time with friends and family, it can also lead to addictive and destructive behavior, a substance abuse expert told BU student athletes last week.

Jim Mathews from Keene State College in New Hampshire told a crowded Mandela Room that when alcohol is abused and not used responsibly, excess consumption can lead to various health problems.

“Beer hasn’t become a health drink,” Mathews said. “Drinking can cause alcoholic poisoning, which you can die from.”

Mathews warned that alcohol impairs the brain’s ability to function and causes slower hand-eye coordination, loss of balance and delayed reasoning skills. It also can lead to kidney and liver failure.

Mathews served as special assistant for alcohol and other drug programs at Keene for 13 years. He now serves as an adjunct faculty member there, teaching alcohol- and drug-related courses.

Students should become aware of the signs of alcoholic poisoning, which include cold and clammy skin, excessive sleeping and less than eight breaths per second with more than 10 seconds in between, Mathews said.

“Vomiting is the body’s natural defense against serious alcoholic poisoning,” Mathews said. “However, sometimes the defense system fails.”

Mathews said 90 percent of violent crimes on campuses are related to alcohol intoxication, such as hazing deaths, date rape and sexual assaults. Thirty-three percent of college students are involved in reports of drinking and driving each year, he added.

Mathews said the solution to alcohol abuse is education. “I didn’t come just to tell you to ‘just say no."

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Last Updated: 10/14/08