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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.

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Weed 2.0

A few weeks ago I wrote about the use and abuse of marijuana, and I learned a lot about how popular the drug has become. What you may not know is that last week we did an outreach project in the Memorial Union about marijuana. I was surprised at the questions we received and the controversy we heard about the drug from the students. One of the questions that caught me off guard was, “what are the long-term effects of marijuana use if you’re not smoking it, just eating it?” I honestly have never even thought about this before, so I started to do some research and here’s what I found:

Overall, there has not been enough research to determine the exact long-term effects of marijuana use if you are consuming it in ways other than smoking. However, eating marijuana has much different short-term effects on the body. When people consume marijuana, let’s say in a brownie, it takes up to an hour to feel the effects. Once the marijuana begins taking effect, it is usually stronger than if you were to have smoked it. People tend to have strong hallucinations from eating marijuana. Because it takes longer to feel the effects, many people keep eating more because they think that it’s not working, and then they eat way too much.

Even though we don’t know the major long-term effects of eating marijuana, it doesn’t have many positives. Any use of marijuana may lead to severe anxiety, depression, and lower grades and GPA (if you’re a student). Until more research is done on the long-term effects of eating marijuana, I would avoid it because there are more negative consequences than positive ones when it comes to using marijuana.

MJ

Weed & Academics

“Herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction”

-Bob Marley.

Smoking weed is a source of stress-relief for some people. Some of us may even have friends who get high off of weed. Marijuana is said to be better for the body and safer to use than alcohol; however, thiMJs is not always true and does not change the fact that it is illegal and can be detrimental to our academic success. Even though college is a time of high stress, students should not turn to weed to relieve their stress; it will only hurt their grades and then potentially harm their future goals and dreams.

There have been plenty of studies and surveys looking at the relationship between smoking weed and how well students are doing in school. One survey, in particular, is taken every two years and is done by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The most recent CDC results show substantial evidence that students who smoke weed get much lower grades than those who do not. Not only do poor grades interfere with your future, but getting caught with the illegal drug interferes even more, including the possibility of losing your financial aid.

I once heard a story about a house of boys that were living what they considered to be the “typical” college life style. They had the fun party house that everyone went to on the weekends. One weekend, however, the cops busted them while they were going to get weed out of the trunk of their vehicle. They got in big trouble and some of them had to spend the night in jail. One of the boys ended up dropping out of school. As you can see, they thought they were just having a good time but ended up jeopardizing their future. It can be hard to find a healthy balance between fun and academics, but I encourage everyone, especially students, to always keep your goals and future dreams in mind when making these types of decisions.

Hockey is Back!

The UND Men’s Ice Hockey team will begin its regular season this Friday, October 10th against Bemidji State. Men’s Hockey is without a doubt UND’s most popular sporting event and is often paired with heavy drinking. As the season gets under way, it is important to know a few things about drinking at the Ralph Engelstad Arena (REA). To consume alcohol at the REA you must be 21 years or older and anyone under the age of 35 must wear a wristband from one of the many ID checker stands throughout the building. For UND sporting events there is a limit of two alcoholic drinks per person and beer is permitted anywhere in the building, except the student section. The student section is completely dry (no alcoholic drinks), regardless of age, and any student that receives an alcohol related charge such as a Minor in Possession or Consumption may also have to report to UND for sanctions regarding a violation of UND’s Alcohol Policy.

hockey

As the excitement of Hockey season comes upon us, it is important not to forget the rules of safe and responsible drinking. Many students “pre-game” for the hockey games – this is binge drinking, and it can be very dangerous so remember to stick to UND’s 0-1-2-3 of safe drinking. As a reminder, it goes as follows:

0 – Understand when not to drink, especially when you have something important going on the next day (work, test, pregnancy)

1 – Limit yourself to one drink per hour

2 – Keep drinking down to no more than two times per week

3 – Have no more than three drinks in one night

Remember to always have a sober ride. Many local bars and similar establishments will have buses located by the UND Bookstore to shuttle you to their location. Also, as a reminder, the local taxi companies will no longer be accepting debit and credit cards during Hockey season so make sure you have cash on hand.

Additional Information:

REA Policies – http://www.theralph.com/guest-services/a-z-guide

UND Alcohol Policy – http://und.edu/finance-operations/university-police/policies-alcohol.cfm

UND’s 0-1-2-3 – http://und.edu/health-wellness/hub/alcohol.cfm

Men’s Hockey Schedule – http://www.undsports.com/SportSelect.dbml?&DB_OEM_ID=13500&SPID=6405&SPSID=58682

Picture – http://pixabay.com/en/landscape-winter-snow-ice-boys-76913/

Pain Killers That Kill

…Did you know that 70% of Americans are using at least one prescription drug?…

In the past 20 years, the use of prescription stimulants has increased exponentially from 5 million to 45 million. With this increase of prescription drug use, the increase of abuse has also risen. Prescription drug abuse has become the fastest growing drug problem. The abuse of prescription drugs has caused more deaths than car accidents in the past year; it is also the 3rd leading cause of accidental death in the country.  So, why is this important to us?

As we think about the abuse of prescription drugs we start to wonder who’s doing it, how they are getting the drugs, and where it is most common. One group of people abusing prescription drugs are college-aged students. There are a few common reasons that college students abuse prescription drugs. The biggest reason?…To get high and relieve stress related to work, school, relationships, and finances. Students also use ADHD medications to stay up all night to study for a test. What these students don’t realize is just how dangerous this can be.  There are other ways to cope!

Although the percentage of college students abusing prescription drugs is quite high, the average number of students abusing prescription drugs at UND is quite low. According to the ACHA-NCHA survey and the KNOW campaign, 97.3% of students at UND do NOT abuse prescription drugs. This is an amazing and encouraging statistic! I hope UND students keep aspiring to stay drug- free and healthy. If you or a friend is struggling with a drug problem, get help right away. There are two great places to go on campus for help; Student Health Services and the University Counseling Center.

counseling-center-secondary

McCannel Hall, Room #200; 701.777.2127

student-health-services-secondary

McCannel Hall Room #100; 701.777.4500

Sip, Swallow, and Chug: Watch what you drink on prescription drugs!

It might sound crazy to some, but in fact, a lot of a prescription drugs are affected by what you drink.  ImageAccording to the FDA (the Food and Drug Administration), “what you eat and drink can affect the way your medicines work” (fda.org).  This could mean a number of different things, from the development of a side effect previously unaffiliated with the medication or causing the medication to not work or do its job properly.  Interactions between prescription medications and food and drink are not something we usually think about.  Instead, we either only pay attention to what interactions may occur with whatever other medications and herbs we are presently taking, or we don’t think about it at all.

There are numerous dangers to mixing alcohol with prescription medications. Some of these dangers include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Memory trouble after having a drink or taking medicine
  • Loss of coordination (walking unsteadily, frequent falls)
  • Changes in sleeping habits 
  • Unexplained bruises 
  • Being unsure of yourself 
  • Irritability, sadness, depression 
  • Unexplained chronic pain
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Wanting to stay alone a lot of the time
  • Failing to bathe or keep clean
  • Having trouble finishing sentences 
  • Having trouble concentrating 
  • Difficulty staying in touch with family or friends
  • Lack of interest in usual activities (niaa.nih.gov)

What makes mixing with medications an even greater threat is that some medications already include alcohol, as much as 10% (niaaa.nih.gov). 

The below link is a guide published through the FDA that tells you prescriptions to avoid mixing with alcoholic beverages. I would encourage everyone to check it out and abide by what it has to say.

http://www.fda.gov/downloads/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/buyingusingmedicinesafely/ensuringsafeuseofmedicine/generaluseofmedicine/ucm229033.pdf

Misuse of Prescription Drugs

Many of us have had days where we were over loaded with homework, having fights with our parents and friends, or just feeling unenthusiastic. Sometimes we are able to break the depressing cycle and focus on the great things that are happening in our lives, other times we turn to things like alcohol or drugs to help us cope with life.drugs

Studies have shown that the misuse of prescription medications in college students is on the rise. Many students are using prescribed medications (like Adderall, which is a stimulant prescribed to patients who have ADHD, Xanax, which is a sedative prescribed to patients who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, and Vicodin, which is a morphine prescribed to patients who have severe pain) to feel better and “manage” their daily lives. When prescribed by a doctor for a certain use, the medicine can be beneficial to a person, but when a person starts overdosing on a medication and taking it with other drugs and/or alcohol the effects can be deadly. Abusing prescription medication can lead to organ damage, seizures, heart attacks, strokes, and even death. When students start abusing medications their chances for becoming binge drinkers, misusers of drugs like marijuana and cocaine, and drug addicts increases dramatically. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the misuse of prescription drugs. 

One of the best ways to relieve stress is by exercising. In the words of Elle Woods from Legally Blond, “I just don’t think that Brooke could’ve done this. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” Happy people are also more able to cope with the struggles of life. One other thing that a person could do is seek-out counseling services. Most college campuses, like ours, offer free counseling to students who may be feeling stressed, dealing with medication abuse, and dealing with alcohol abuse. Although it may be hard to step out of your comfort zone, the benefits of living a healthy, drug free lifestyle are definitely worth it.

More information on prescription abuse can be found at http://www.talkaboutrx.org

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