Category Archives: Student Stories

“You’re the least drunk, you can drive us home!”

Take a moment to think, have you ever said this to one of your friends? Has one of your friends uttered these same words to you?
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Well these words could kill.

kids
As the amount of alcohol consumed in one’s body increases, their ability to be attentive and make decisions greatly decreases. Therefore, getting in the car with someone who has been drinking throughout the night or driving after a night of drinking could have detrimental consequences. Even the slightest drink can cause changes to your body and its’ functions. For example, at .02% Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) an individual has trouble performing two tasks at one time and their visual functions decline. At .05% BAC an individual can experience difficulty steering and have less of an ability to track moving objects. At .08% BAC the individual loses ability to control speed, or detect signals from traffic lights, other cars, and pedestrians. More importantly, they show signs of short term memory loss and an inability to concentrate at the task at hand.

designated driver
The facts are pretty numbing. More than 17,000 Americans are killed each year to drinking and driving. Did you know that most fatal car accidents happen between 12 a.m. and 3 a.m?
Shockingly, on average a drunken driver kills someone every 40 minutes in the U.S. And equally important to note is that the rate of drunk driving is highest amongst the age group of individuals 21-25 years old. [NCAAD] Don’t become a statistic; think before you let yourself or someone you know drive drunk. Take steps to ensure you are participating in risk free drinking and check out the protective behaviors to understand what that looks like.

Check out some of the laws North Dakota has in place for drinking under the influence here: http://dui.drivinglaws.org/ndakota.php
Check out a personal story from a man whose life changed after a night of drinking: https://vimeo.com/35282858

Sources:
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Drinking and Driving Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s Okay to Say No

Today, our society is greatly geared towards drinking, but there are many people that choose to not drink. Being a non-drinker in college can be hard due to constant pressure and hassle from friends and others. In turn, this is just a short clip of how those non-drinkers can get out of that sticky situation of pressure that they may encounter at a party.

Its Okay to Say No

1) Gracefully declining.

-It might just be as easy as saying “No thank you” to a friend. Remember saying no to drinking doesn’t make you lame.

Not Lame

2) Sometimes you might need a polite excuse that follows your graceful decline:

  • I’m driving tonight- I’m DDing (Designated Driving).
  • I have a huge test tomorrow.
  • I have to work tomorrow.
  • I have to get up early in the morning.
  • No thank you, I’m good tonight. I don’t feel well.
  • I drank too much last night.
  • I’m just going to lay low tonight, thank you though.
  • Hold that thought I have to go to the bathroom.

Excuses

3) Even just focusing the conversation on the other person and responding by saying, “no thank you” but followed by an open ended question spins the conversation and the person won’t even question you why you’re not drinking.

Wine

4) In order to avoid anxiety, this is what you might need to understand and what might help:

  • Realize that not everyone is into drinking all the time either.
  • Try and avoid situations where drinking will occur if you don’t want to.
  • Make other plans.
  • Test your assertiveness.
  • Be able to still have fun, don’t be the “party pooper.”
  • Carry a decoy. You can always carry a soda in a different glass disguising it, and your friends won’t be tempted to ask you if you need a drink.
  • Keep busy by taking pictures, socializing with more people, eating, have fun dancing, or even being the dj.

An Artificial Awakening

I saw a meme the other day that made me both chuckle and think about my habits during my first semester as a graduate student. It was from a fellow classmate after we finished with our last final and it said, “Caffeine, you’re on the bench. Alcohol, suit up.” I’m sure it was funny to the majority of my classmates. It made me reflect on my study habits and my cycles of “self-medicating.” Both caffeine and alcohol are indeed drugs, legal ones, but too many people have developed a dependency on them.

I can remember a few tests this semester where I had more caffeine than I should have while studying. I knew skipping coffee on any day would make me feel unproductive. I associated mental arousal with that irresistible hot black beverage. I even went on a caffeine detox for a week and I felt horrible during the first couple of days.
After those tests were done, I often found myself wanting some sort of alcoholic beverage just to relax. I didn’t want to go to parties and binge drink my brain away, but rather enjoy the effects of a drink or two in solitude. See, my mind was so overstimulated from the caffeine that the depressive effects of alcohol seemed to balance it out. I needed one drug to counteract the effects of another. I thought I was being smart, only having one or two drinks on Friday evening. My mindset was “I’m old enough to legally drink; I’m doing so responsibly, there is nothing wrong here.”

Many will argue that caffeine and alcohol are fine in moderate amounts and in appropriate situations; however, I do believe we need to get out of the vicious substance controlled undulation of our state of minds. Instead of relying on caffeine to heighten our senses, we should be altering our lifestyles in a manner that brings more balance. Instead of unwinding with a drink after a week of taxing our minds with caffeine and dull textbooks, we should be seeking out positive and enriching experiences outside school. I’m not going to be giving up on my green tea anytime soon, but I will avoid using it solely as a means to be more attentive.

Sleep More, Achieve More!

As I write this, I’m thinking about my bed and wishing the day was over so I could crawl into bed. However, when the time comes, sleep doesn’t come as easily as I would like. I toss and turn and sometimes count sheep before I finally doze off. Not only does it take a while to fall asleep, there isn’t a night that passes that I don’t wake up to use the bathroom. This drives me crazy. Research has shown direct connections to the importance of sleep and the effect on academic success. In order to get a good night sleep there are certain tips that should be followed.

• Keep a regular sleep schedule
It’s important to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Try to sleep the same number of hours every day, at the same time. When I sleep for less than 7 hours a night – the next day is awful! I’m rundown, yawning, find myself thinking of bed and in general, I’m not a happy or friendly person. It messes up my day.

• Create a relaxing bedtime routine
Taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, and reading a book are all examples of a relaxing bedtime routine. Activities that help tell your body it’s time to sleep and reduce stress and anxiety. Whenever I need to unwind, I take a warm bath and relax which ultimately makes me sleepy. Avoid activities like watching TV or homework right before bed because it can keep you awake by stimulating your mind. Even the bright light emitted from the television or computer can wreak havoc with your sleep. Turn off your electronics a couple of hours before bed to ensure they don’t ruin your rest. Give your brain a chance to wind down from the day.

• Get comfy
One thing about college is that controlling your sleep environment is very difficult. However, do your best to get comfortable. If you are in a residence halls with a noisy roommate, who stays up late with the light on, get eye masks and ear plugs. Ensure your side of the room looks appealing and relaxing. Finding comfortable sheets can create a pleasant bedtime experience, too. The room should be dark and you could do this by hanging up a black sheet around your bed or hanging up dark curtains. Keep the temperature down – it should be between 68-70F.

• Limit daytime naps to 10-30 minutes
No matter how tired I am I try avoiding naps during the day and when it’s absolutely necessary, never for more than 30 minutes, and ideally before 3pm. An early afternoon nap may help you get through your day.

• Turn off your electronics at least 30 minutes before falling asleep
There have been numerous studies showing that using a light-emitting device before bed, like a phone, TV, or laptop, stimulates the brain, creating a false alertness and stimulation, making it harder to sleep. I usually try and turn off my phone or put it on silent and put it face down, even if it’s on, so I will not be disturbed by the light.

• Use your bed for sleep and sex only
I know this may be difficult to do especially when you are in the residence halls, but avoid using your bed for homework or other activities especially ones that cause stress and anxiety. This will help strengthen the association between your bed and sleep.

• Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bedtime
I love drinking chocolate drinks, but I try to limit my intake after 4pm. This is because caffeine (found in coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate) is a stimulant and causes your body to be more alert. It can stay in the body for an average of three to five hours. Even if you don’t think caffeine affects you, it is likely to hinder your sleep quality. Although many people use alcohol as a sleep aid, it actually decreases sleep quality by increasing night time awakenings. This leads to a night of lighter sleep that is less restful. Nicotine is a stimulant, which can make it difficult to fall asleep. When tobacco users go to sleep, withdrawal symptoms can also cause poor sleep. Nicotine can also cause problems waking up in the morning and causing nightmares. Avoid nicotine 2 hours before bedtime.

If you want more information, please contact the Health & Wellness Hub on the main floor of the Memorial Union. Enjoy your sleep!

“DUDE, Where’s My Car?”

Many of us have uttered these words as we’ve walked out of Target trying to remember where we parked. Some of us may have said these words after a long night of partying hard. Although, driving after a party if you’re completely sober is fine, it is important to remember not to drive after you have had any amount of alcohol.

When people drive after drinking alcohol, the chances of a fatal car accident increase significantly. Nationally, a person is injured approximately every two minutes from alcohol related crashes and every thirty minutes someone is killed because of an alcohol related crash. On average, every weeknight between 10:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m., 1 in 13 drivers is drunk; between 1:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., 1 in 7 drivers is drunk (www.dot.nd.gov). If you are caught driving after you have had a few drinks you may receive:

• A class B misdemeanor
• A fine no more than $500 if your BAC is below .1, or two day imprisonment and no more than a $750 fine if your BAC is .16 or greater
• Addiction evaluation
• A 91 day license suspension if your BAC is below 1.8 or a 180 day license suspension if your BAC is 1.8 or higher.
(http://www.dot.nd.gov/divisions/safety/penaltiesdrinkingdriving.htm)

These are some pretty serious consequences for driving while intoxicated, and they just represent the first time you are caught drinking and driving. The second offense has much greater fines and restrictions. Fortunately, we have come up with an acronym to help you remember to be a little more prepared for a fun night without intoxicated driving.

D: Don’t
U: Underestimate
D: Drunk
E: Experiences

Although you may feel and think you’re fine to drive after you have had some alcoholic drinks, the truth is that the consequences can be deadly. Don’t underestimate the power you have while you are drunk. You have the power to make a bad choice and potentially ruin someone’s life (or your own) and the power to make a good choice and have a safe night. It’s up to you. Last but not least, don’t forget that there are always alternatives to driving drunk, like having a designated driver take you and your friends home, calling a cab, or spending the night at the place you’re at (if it’s a friend’s house).

Two (or more) Way Tango

I have to say I’m pretty shocked my home state, Wyoming, legalized same-sex marriage on October 17th of this year. Before that, it was announced that Utah and Colorado, two other states I hold dear to my heart, also legalized same-sex marriages. The freedom for every couple to marry is becoming a reality! I hope that North Dakota won’t be far behind all of this. As I am typing this, there are 32 states allowing same-sex marriage, and that number is bound to increase in the following months. To mark the occasion, this post will be about same-sex-sex and some of the questions people may have on the topic.

What is LGBTQ?

LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer. It has grown to encompass a wide group of people who don’t feel they belong in the heteronormative category. However, this term isn’t all inclusive as it leaves out various groups such as transsexuals, intersexes, asexuals, pansexuals, and many more. A lot of the other terms are included in the queer subset, as they don’t identify as a binary sexual subtype.

I’m a lesbian and have just become sexually active. Am I still at risk for STI’s?

Absolutely! Although transmission rates among lesbians tend to be lower, any time there is fluid transmission between mucous membranes, there is a risk. Also, if you happen to share any kind of sex toys, STI’s can be transmitted that way if the proper precautions aren’t taken.

I’m gay and want to be in a monogamous relationship but it seems that anyone else who is gay is promiscuous. Is there any hope for me?

Of course there is hope! Gay individuals are just as likely to want to be in a monogamous relationship as their heterosexual counterparts. Also, promiscuity has nothing to do with ones being gay or straight- what seems to be the problem here is ones perception of gay people due to a small minority that you’ve been in contact with.

I heard there is a pill that prevents HIV? Can I ditch the condoms?

A drug called PrEP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, has been recently introduced that reduces the risk of contracting HIV infection in people by up to 92%. This is pretty significant and good for those in a high risk situation but let us consider a couple of things. The first thing is that condoms are both cheaper and more effective than PrEP. The second is that you have to be consistently taking PrEP for the medicine levels to be at an acceptable level in the blood. This isn’t something you can take right before a high risk activity and expect to be ok. There is also a post exposure drug (PEP) but these drugs are very expensive and are taken more than just once. While these preventative drugs are a good thing, don’t ditch the condoms just yet. Also, there are other STI’s that PrEP (and PEP) is completely ineffective with.

I heard that bi-sexuality is just a transitional phase for someone who hasn’t completely accepted that they are gay. Is there really such thing as bi-sexuality?

Yes, bi-sexuality is in fact a real thing and not a “transitional stage.” While there may be a time when some “explore” their sexuality, there are quite a large number of people who find themselves both sexually and emotionally attached to women and men. These individuals rightfully classify themselves as bisexual. So if you ever know anyone who calls themselves bisexual, just be respectful and don’t ask if they are ‘really just gay.’

UND Students Stay with the Same Friends When They Party!

89.1% of UND students stay with their same group of friends when they party.

stay_with_friends

This is a social norm that has begun to spread across campus. If you are anything like me, your initial reaction might have been along the lines of “… Okay? …” This social norm can be a little confusing if you are not aware of what protective behaviors are related to drinking. It might seem odd that we’re telling you about students drinking, but what it is really saying is that UND students are being safe when they party!

Staying with your friends when you go out drinking is what we call a protective behavior. It’s important to always have people you know and trust around so that they can lookout for you if you ever need help, or are too drunk to recognize a dangerous situation; and you can do the same for them. Essentially, what we’re doing is using the “Buddy System.”

However, staying with your friends is not the only protective behavior out there…
There are many other actions you can take to keep yourself safe when you drink. A few of these include:

  1. Setting limits on how many drinks you will have in one evening;
  2. Limiting your drinking sessions to certain days and times;
  3. Eating before and during drinking;
  4. Avoiding risky or heavy drinking situations;
  5. Spacing out your drinks and alternating in non-alcoholic drinks; and,
  6. Making a pre-determined plan about how to get home at the end of the night that does not involve driving yourself.

These are just a few things to keep in mind the next time you go out drinking. Hopefully, this is helpful in explaining why it is good that students stay with their friends when out partying.

What’s New with Stickman?

Holy-smokes! I never thought hosting a root-beer pong tournament in the residence halls would be so exhilarating. From set up to take down, Kelsie (an AOD peer educator) and myself saw residents of Bek Hall play, laugh, and whether they liked it or not, learn a thing or two. Before I get ahead of myself, let me take a step back for a minute. The Health & Wellness Hub is conducting outreach to provide information about low-risk drinking so students may be able to make informed, responsible decisions when it comes to alcohol.

Stickman

Our outreach program consisted of a character named “Stickman.” Party with Stickman is a comic strip with a stick figure that explains college life experiences dealing with alcohol, binge drinking, and partying. The goal of this event was to talk about the cost of partying, blood alcohol content, and protective behaviors.

After a presentation and some gasp stricken expressions, we began a root-beer pong tournament; EXCEPT, this tournament had a little twist. As soon as a cup was made players had to pour the content of the cup into a jug that measured Standard Drink Units (SDU’s) for beer (5% alcohol for every 12 ounces). By doing this, participants were able to see how much alcohol is typically consumed during ONE drinking game. Lying on the table was also a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) chart where residents of Bek Hall were able to see their potential Blood Alcohol Content per game and how that level may impair their cognitive and physical abilities.

After the tournament, residents continued to practice and play until it was time to pack up. The most fulfilling part of the night was hearing students use terms from my presentation. One student even said, “I didn’t know how much I normally drink until know- I’m definitely going to watch myself from now on.” This brought a smile to my face, as I know the goal is to inform, but I never thought changing someone’s perception would also change my own. I learned teaching others is the first step to prevention. The more we know, the better we are as a whole. We all had a blast playing pong, meeting new people, and learning some new facts about alcohol. No matter how you have a good time, it was great partying with Stickman in Bek Hall!

Hometown Partier

I was always the ‘good kid’ in high school. I had straight A’s, no detentions, no driving misconducts- just a clean slate. At the end of my senior year of high school we were required to do senior projects in order to graduate. It was basically a large research project with a paper, presentation, job shadow, project board, website, and the building or doing of something that would benefit the community in some way. Once senior projects were graded and done with, all of the seniors go to a secret spot and have a huge bonfire where they burn their failed papers, used textbooks, and other school related things that they do not need anymore. Usually, everyone gets drunk at the end of the school year party- and this year was no exception. This was the first experience I had ever had with drunk people.

I chose to be the designated driver for my friends, but it was still odd for me to see everyone throwing up and being irresponsible. As the night was drawing to an end, I drove my wasted friends home. My car was covered in puke, but at least my friends were safe. That day I decided that partying was not for me. I knew kids would pressure me and think I was lame for not wanting to go out and “have fun” but I did not care; I would find better ways to have fun.

Then college came around… My small, hometown party experience in no way prepared me for the partying that happens in college. To be honest, I gave into pressure a few times. I’m ashamed of it but it’s the truth. As the years went on I felt like I was getting caught up in a “partying is the only way to have fun” kind of mindset. All of my friends in college and at home only wanted to drink the night away. What happened to staying up late watching horror movies and making Taco Bell runs and talking about what we wanted to do in the future? I wanted and needed a change of pace. Partying was turning out to be a waste of my time, money, and effort.

I started being the designated driver more and making sure my friends were safe. Unfortunately, it is hard to sit and watch your friends have a great time, but the good thing is that I could still have a great time without drinking. In my hometown, we have lots of lakes and trails where we can go boating and ATVing. I started working on convincing my friends to do other fun things that do not include alcohol. They still party every once in a while, but it was so cool to see them realize that having fun does not have to include alcohol. It was exciting for me to think of fun activities we could do together instead of just sitting around drinking. I do not know if it will be worth my efforts in the end, but I hope that the efforts I put into my hometown friends will make a difference not only in them, but in the community that we influence and shape as well

Stressed by Finals?

If you’re like me with finals right around the corner your stress levels have gone up with studying for test, projects, or papers. DeStress Fest Poster - Dec 2013 (2)However there is a way to help you cope with these added stress levels, exercise.  Aerobic exercise is a great way to help lower your stress levels even if it is a thirty minute quick workout. Usually weekends are my days off from working out but I was starting to get stressed and couldn’t focus so I came to the UND Wellness Center and used the 30 minute circuit (located on the upper level). I felt so much better after that quick workout. I had my focus back and my stress levels I could feel were lowered. I finished my homework stress free and I could enjoy the night, while not having to focus on my homework instead.  stress2Head to the Physical Activity Booth during the FroZEN De-Stress Fest at the Memorial Union Loading Dock this Wednesday (Dec 11th, 2013 11am-2pm) to learn more about how Exercise helps improve brain function & take stress away during stressful times (like FINALS)!

-Kelsey Olson, FLEX Intern, UND Wellness Center

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