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Responsibility goes along with drinking

Responsibility goes along with drinking

The Daily Item
Cindy O. Herman For The Daily Item
April 26, 2022

Movies sometimes portray getting drunk as a humorous rite of young adult life, but hospital and college officials witness what happens when excessive drinking leads to drunk driving, casual sex or other problems.

Officials are looking for ways to help young people understand that it’s not okay to drink to the point of losing control.

“When they do get into trouble, they end up here,” said Dr. B. James Connolly, department of emergency medicine at Evangelical Community Hospital.

He explained that, much like parents, a hospital in a college town tries to strike a balance between preferring young adults don’t drink to excess, “but if they do, we want them to come in and get help.” As a result, ER personnel do not involve parents or police unless the patient becomes unruly.

“We look to see if it’s a one-time problem or if it’s a slippery slope where the student might need a correction of the way their ship is heading,” Connolly said, adding that in most cases, local colleges are already aware of the student’s alcohol habits. “They do a fantastic job.”

“Excessive alcohol intake does lead to poor decision-making and then bad outcomes for the individual drinking, as well as, oftentimes, bad outcomes for the people around them,” said registered nurse Annalisa Negrea, injury prevention coordinator at UPMC in North Central Pennsylvania.

Dr. Kimberly Kabernagel, medical director of Geisinger Marworth Treatment Center, agreed, acknowledging that drinking has become part of the college lifestyle.

“High school and college kids tend to do more binge drinking, which can be just as dangerous as chronic, daily drinking, particularly in this impulsive age group,” she said. “Really, we’re starting to see more of cirrhosis and those negative health consequences that we typically see in the middle-aged to older alcohol consumer. We’re seeing it in those who are in their twenties, and it’s really alarming and concerning.”

Have a plan

Size matters, and alcohol content matters, so don’t step out without thinking ahead.

“Have a plan,” Kabernagel said. “Make sure you’re aware of what you’re drinking and how much you’re drinking. Make sure you’re with people who are looking out for you, and make sure you have a safe way to get home.”

“Personally and professionally, I encourage you, if you are planning to get behind the wheel, don’t ingest alcohol,” Negrea said. “We’ve seen too many stories of people who say, ‘Oh, I only had two drinks,’ and then they find themselves in a situation they wish they were not in.”

“It’s common sense,” Connolly said. “If you’re going to go and drink, just don’t drive. Period.”

It’s a good idea to have a designated driver, he said, noting that local fraternities have been doing a better job of that. and our local towns are small enough that a person who is drinking can walk home.

“The most surefire way to avoid trouble is to not drive,” he said.