Weekend at Bernie’s Guys Needs Alcohol Awareness Class

I don’t if you saw the 1989 Hollywood film “Weekend at Bernie’s” starring Jonathan Silverman and Andrew McCarthy. In that hilarious film, the protagonist’s boss dies and the two proceed to carry the body around acting as if “Bernie” was still alive.

Funny in a movie – not so funny in real life! Two Colorado men must have really liked that movie. The culprits are 43-year-old Robert Young and 25-year-old Mark Rubinson, who upon finding their friend, 43-year-old Jeffrey Jarrett dead, decided to drive around town with him and spend some of his money!

This is a true story. Young found Jarrett dead and instead of calling authorities, telephoned Rubinson and their night on the town was on! After hitting several nightspots, leaving Jarrett’s body in the back of Young’s SUV, the pair took Jarrett back to the apartment.

Armed with Jarrett’s ATM card the two were far from through, spending more than $400 of Jarrett’s money at Shotgun Willie’s – a strip club.

What a pair of winners, right? How did these two make bail, I have no idea.

Less than three days later Rubinson was arrested again – this time for driving under the influence (DUI). A concerned citizen had called police when she noticed Rubinson’s car swerving all over the road. Police located his car in front of a convenience store with two flat tires. Rubinson was staggering home.  He admitted to police that the tires flattened after he hit the curb. In addition to DUI, this winner also got hit with driving without a license, registration and insurance!

It would be funny if it was not true!

Bath Salt Users Need Drug Class

This is not the first time I have been urged to write about the problem of kids always looking for a new legal high. Believe that things have gotten a lot more serious than the “whippets” we used to do out of whipped cream cans when we were kids.

One terrifying new drug kids are abusing are bath salts. Yes, that’s right ordinary bath salts. Bath salts are used as a drug by grinding it up and snorting it. While this is a relatively new issue, law enforcement officials all say it’s just a matter of time before it worsens.

The drug can be snorted, smoked, injected or swallowed and is cheap, addictive and causes users to act unpredictably.

In Bangor, Maine, police respond to one to three calls a day involving the stimulant, which looks like cocaine but usually contains mephedrone or methylenedioxypyrovalerone, known as MDPV.

Penobscot County in Maine accounts for about 32 percent of the state’s 121 bath salts poisonings — overdoses — through the first nine months of this year

Since mid-April, police and have responded to more than 143 incidents involving bath salts.

The thing that is common with bath salts users is severe delusion, paranoia — people are out to get them. People are chasing them. Sounds kind of like what is currently happening with music great Sly Stone who is holed up in his van.

Because the drug users truly fear for their lives, they pick up knives, guns and other weapons and are a danger to themselves, the people who love them and the law enforcement and medical personnel dispatched to help, the Rockland sergeant and others say.

At least two men in Maine, one in Bangor and one in Rockland, attempted to commit suicide by cop while under the influence of bath salts.

He used a Waterville man — recently found standing at the edge of the woods screaming nonsense at nearby trees — as an example of a bath salts user who didn’t even realize police were there.

Synthetic bath salts are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration because the drug is not marketed for human consumption, so users take a risk every time they consume the concoction of lab-made drugs.

The paranoia experienced by users sometimes lasts well beyond when the drug leaves their system. The flashbacks can last for days. Hopefully, this fad will end soon. Americans have a hard enough time keeping drugs out of their bodies and the bodies of their children.

Would Alcohol Awareness Class Change Drinking Age?

Alcohol laws vary drastically from country-to-country.  They also vary from state-to-state right here in the United States.

The other day, I was reading through the Office of Safety and Security's crime log when I came across a report that an underage student had used a fake ID, bought alcohol, and provided it to other minors at a small, private university. It reminded me of the strange role that alcohol plays, not only on campus, but also in this country.

Alcohol has a strange relationship at US colleges: On the one hand, all students are told during Orientation, possession of hard alcohol in college dormitories is a violation. However, schools also provide tacit approval of underage consumption through its description of chem-free dorms.

The United States has the highest drinking age in the developed world. And what does it have to show for that? Nothing.

According to the Amethyst Initiative, an organization supported by 135 college presidents, which advocates that current drinking laws be reconsidered, "21 is not working."

Relatively speaking, for example, the number of deaths caused by drunk driving in the United States is higher compared to countries with lower drinking ages. In California, a state with 32 million cars and a road network about 169,000 miles long, there were 1,355 alcohol-related deaths in 2008. In Britain, however, with a population twice as large, a similar number of cars and 248,000 miles of road, only a third as many people were killed in alcohol-related car accidents.

It would seem that the members of Congress who approved the National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984 forgot that, under the Fourteenth Amendment, no person should be denied "the equal protection of the laws." That is exactly the case if, for three years of your life, you can be penalized for a crime that does not exist for any other so-called adult.

Congress passed (and President Reagan signed) the law in order to standardize the drinking age.

As the law stands, at age 18 you can vote, buy a gun, smoke, get married, be summoned for jury duty, pay taxes, and even die for your country in battle, yet you are still not allowed to purchase alcohol.

It could be argued that even 18 is an arbitrary age at which to legally become an adult but that is not the issue at hand.

You ask someone what the first word that comes to their mind when you say "cigarette" and their answer will probably be "cancer." Say "alcohol" and you are more likely to hear "party" than "liver failure."

Ultimately, this age limit has not achieved anything it was meant to. Underage drinking continues unabated and underground, leaving too many vulnerable to alcohol's effects. Drunk driving incidences have decreased minimally and the rate of deaths as a result of alcohol on the road is still dizzyingly high.

I welcome your thoughts on the issue.

Where do Alcohol Awareness Classes and Civil Liberties Collide?

Let me begin by saying that I have the utmost respect for law enforcement officials. I also believe in breath tests. But there are times when people in positions of authority overstep their bounds. Fifty years ago, it would have gone unnoticed or uncontested – not anymore! 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against a Detroit, Michigan suburb, saying teens on a school trip were forced to take an alcohol test after an administrator found an empty liquor bottle in the woods.

Given the facts so far – do you think they were within their rights to give those breath tests right now?

This past June a 13-year-old student was at a school-sponsored picnic in Livonia's (Michigan) Rotary Park, celebrating his class' graduation from Discovery Middle School when he and four other friends went into the woods for a short walk. When they returned, they were accused of drinking by the assistant principal who had followed them into the woods and found an empty liquor bottle on the ground.

The ACLU said the principal called police even after the students denied any drinking.

Livonia police gave the teens breath tests, of which they registered a 0.00. How about now – were those breath tests warranted?

The ACLU filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Livonia on behalf of the 13-year-old boy. The lawsuit said parents were not contacted ahead of the test nor did officers get a warrant.

When there is no evidence that a child has done anything wrong, should he be subjected to this degrading and embarrassing procedure in front of his teachers and peers?

In my opinion the teachers went too far. Steps need to be put in place so tests like this do not happen. There is no doubt the ACLU, like a hungry bulldog, is not going to let this one go. The school district will pay and so will every student at that school and in the school district due to the financial loss the district will be forced to take.

University of Colorado Students Need Alcohol Awareness Classes

For a school that is best-known for being rated the number one party school by Playboy Magazine, the University of Colorado really needs to work on its image.  Hazing claimed the life of a pledge a few years ago and the school is not mandating that each of its incoming freshmen take an online alcohol awareness class.  The class is just a start.

It is a start that the University of Colorado Boulder holds students accountable for their actions both on and off campus.

Might Need Alcohol Awareness Classes

Boulder students cited for committing crimes, violating the student code of conduct or campus alcohol polices, can plead their cases in hearings before officials in the Office of Student Conduct, which has 12 employees.

If officials determine that an underage student possessed or drank alcohol, for example, they might be required to attend a class on the dangers of alcohol.

If students are guilty of repeated or more serious violations, they could suffer a variety of sanctions, from having to pay restitution if property is destroyed or people are harmed, to probation, suspension for one or two semesters, or even expulsion.

A student cited for being a minor in possession of alcohol for having a bottle of beer would not receive the same kind of punishment as a student who was passing around an open bottle of vodka to three other underage people (which is a serious alcohol violation).

As on many campuses, students are constantly exposed to messages that stress that alcohol and drug abuse are unhealthy and potentially dangerous.

That message was underscored when Michael Hoffman, a 21-year-old CU student, died on Aug. 26, after a night of partying. Toxicology reports are not complete, but officials suspect alcohol was a likely factor in Hoffman’s death.

In the last school year, CU officials reviewed 6,132 student infractions of the student conduct code. Of those, 2,500, or more than a third, involved alcohol, the university said.

CU dramatically increased its anti-­alcohol efforts following the 2004 death of student and fraternity pledge Gordy Bailey, who died of alcohol poisoning after fraternity brothers took him and other recruits into the mountains for a hazing ritual that involved drinking whiskey and wine.

Since 2007-08, the number of alcohol-related cases handled by the office of student conduct has dropped by 17 percent.  Nice to see the numbers dropping.

UK College Bans Alcohol In Residences

Queen’s made the decision to ban alcohol in residence during Orientation Week this year as part of our strategy to reduce high risk behavior, increase student safety and help students successfully transition to university life.

Early indications are that the ban contributed to a more positive Orientation Week experience.

Queen’s, like most universities across the country, moved to an alcohol-free Orientation Week many years ago. This decision recognized that most incoming first year students are under the legal drinking age and that the goal of orientation is to provide a range of opportunities to help students connect with a new learning and living environment.

Several universities expanded the alcohol-free nature of Orientation Week by implementing alcohol-free residence policies during orientation. Our decision to implement a similar policy this year arose in part from our review of Canadian best practices.

Alcohol misuse is a significant issue among some segments of the university-aged population and best practices suggest that reducing access to alcohol is a strategy that reduces risk and harm. Adjusting to university can be overwhelming for some students who may be worried about making new friends, living away from home for the first time and doing well academically. New students can be particularly vulnerable to peer pressure to engage in overconsumption of alcohol or other risky behaviors.

More than 90 per cent of first-year students at Queen’s are underage and the deaths of two first-year students last year, including one on the first day of class, have accelerated the actions of the University’s Alcohol Working Group. The group supports a multi-pronged approach to address alcohol-related harm that includes education, prevention, health promotion and enforcement.

We do not yet have data on how many alcohol-related violations or incidents occurred in residence over the course of Orientation Week — the ban just ended Monday. Anecdotal evidence, though, suggests the ban may have helped to change first-year attitudes and create more opportunities for students to get to know their classmates without feeling pressure to drink.

Certainly student participation in evening residence orientation activities skyrocketed suggesting there may have been fewer alcohol-based room parties.

More than 3,300 first-years went to the welcome rally on move-in night at the ARC. Students had to be streamed into Grant Hall because there were so many people. The post-rally games on Tindall Field drew 700 students, when fewer than 100 students participated last year.

Increased attendance at these types of events is a signal that more students are engaged in the dry events that help build friendships and community.

Residence staff also noticed an increase in the number of students who spent time hanging out in residence common rooms throughout the week, getting to know each other, watching movies and connecting as floor mates.

Campus security and residence life staff reported positive changes at the annual Main Council Residence Dance and carnival, attended by 2,500 students. Unlike in previous years, no one needed first aid, there were no arrests and no one was taken to the on-site Campus Observation Room (COR). Only a few students were turned away because they were obviously intoxicated — last year, more than a dozen students were denied entry to the event.

Initial reports from dons indicate that Orientation Week in residence went very smoothly. When the presence of alcohol in residence came to their attention — and we’re not surprised there were some incidents — students acknowledged knowing about the ban and were cooperative in surrendering the alcohol they had.

We agreed to complete a comprehensive review of this new policy and we will do that once we collect all incident reports, survey results and interviews.

In implementing this policy, we were not expecting to eliminate drinking in residence during Orientation Week — nor did we see the ban as a complete strategy.

The ban is part of a larger strategy and represents a step toward supporting a culture where underage drinking is less pervasive and where more students make responsible and safe choices, especially in the critical first week of school. As students settle into their new homes and new lives at university, anything that reduces anxiety, promotes confidence, helps students connect with one another and contributes to student wellness is a good thing.

LSU Students Need Alcohol Awareness Class

I attended a few different colleges and visited numerous others, and one thing they all have in common is there is a lot of drinking, Louisiana State University located in Baton Rouge, LA is thinking its problem is excessive. What do you think?

LSU’s Health Service Center did a survey and found that 88.6 percent of respondents from LSU drank within the last year, and more University students drove after drinking than most other colleges.

These surveys, which were released this spring, allow universities to compare their statistics with national averages of others.

The area that especially concerns me is the statistic about drinking and driving. According to the National College Health Assessment II, the University's drinking and driving rates are double the national average. While 31.5 percent of University students drove after drinking any alcohol, 15.2 percent of students did nationally.

It is important to remember that alcohol is both a drug and a poison. While students may drink regularly, their bodies don't always respond the same way. Hydration, stress, food consumption, sleep and medication use all play a part in alcohol's effect of the body. If someone you know is suffering from alcoholism please seek help immediately. If you prefer to maintain total anonymity there are Louisiana alcohol classes too.

Mother Needs More Than An Alcohol Awareness Class

I seem to blog almost every day about parents who refuse to be parents and provide their children with alcohol.  Alcohol certainly increases the chances that something negative will happen in your life.  That said - why would a parent supply their kid with booze?

The following is a true story of why parents should not furnish alcohol for their kids.

A Canadian woman provided two or three beers to her 14-year-old son in the hours before he drowned Sunday in shallow waters of Lake Ontario behind Old Fort Niagara.

Paula Montgomery and a family friend are charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, in the death of her son, Alexander, who was part of a group from Orillia, Ont., participating in a War of 1812 re-enactment at the fort in Youngstown.

These were people who were responsible for his safety, and if they had adhered to common sense, and the law, this probably wouldn't have happened. A 14-year-old drinking that quantity of beer is illegal, and it's wrong.

Adults are allowed to bring alcohol onto the grounds of Old Fort Niagara, and teenagers frequently participate in re-enactment events at the fort.

But the drowning is prompting the organization that operates the fort to re-examine some of its practices.

It's likely he hit his head during the fall, and the death appears accidental, but alcohol probably played a role.

Alexander's death is raising the question of why a mother would provide alcohol to a teen.  Parents be smart and do your job.  The lives of many people will forever be affected by this mother’s decision to allow her son to drink.

Stricter Texas Alcohol Laws Being Enforced

Last week I blogged about a new Texas law that makes driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol concentration over 0.15 a Class A misdemeanor. It appears to have been necessary.

So far at least 30 drivers in Bexar County have been charged under a new law that doubles the maximum penalty for registering a blood alcohol level of nearly twice the legal limit.

Under the enhanced law that took effect just last Thursday, first-time offenders who have a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or higher in addition to being charged with a Class A misdemeanor, it is also punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

Brian Michael Giles, 29, became the first person charged locally under the new law. He was arrested by San Antonio police moments after the new law took effect.

The law was designed to target people who are clearly not social drinkers. It appears Texas believes that sending these people to court and giving them probation and other alternatives doesn't solve the issue.

Bexar County also has a “no refusal” policy on weekends, which means drunken-driving suspects who refuse to blow into a device to test blood alcohol levels could have their blood drawn.

In order to enforce this law nurses are available to draw blood from drunken-driving suspects who refuse breath tests, including misdemeanor cases that don't involve injuries, if an officer obtains a search warrant.

I will be interested to see if these stricter laws, combined with enforcement has an effect on DUI behavior overall. 

Kiwi Parents Need Alcohol Awareness Class

Kiwi parents' boozing and liberal attitudes to alcohol are having deadly effects on their kids.

It has been revealed this week that more than one New Zealander under the age of 25 is dying each week from alcohol-related causes.

The revelation came from the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee, which studied 357 deaths of young Kiwis from 2005 to 2007. Alcohol contributed to or was the cause of 87 of the fatalities – about one quarter of the tragedies.

The committee described alcohol as "like a toxic tide impinging on all children and young people born and growing up in New Zealand".

Committee chairman Nick Baker said: "Too many young people are victims of their own drinking or victims of the drinking of others.

"We see deaths and injuries sustained by teenagers who drive while drunk, get into cars driven by other people who are drunk, or suffer fatal assault while under the influence themselves or where the assailant has been drinking."

National Addiction Centre director Professor Doug Sellman said a recent Australasian study found children were influenced by how parents behaved around alcohol – rather than what mum and dad told them about booze.

The study also found attempting to normalize alcohol use by allowing children to drink at home or giving them small amounts to take to parties increased the risk of harm.

"Every day, children in New Zealand are marched past the... cheap wine and beer in supermarkets, just across the aisle from the fruit and vegetables as they go shopping with their parents, unconsciously forming the idea that alcohol is not a Class B-equivalent drug causing untold damage to NZ society but rather that it is a harmless grocery item that is essential for a normal successful life.

"We were told in the late 80s that New Zealand would become a sophisticated European-like country like France if we liberalized our liquor laws. We weren't told at the time that France had the highest rate of alcohol dependence and alcoholic liver cirrhosis in the world."

British research on the problem of teen drinking even studied parenting styles.

The study, by UK institute Demos, found bad parenting of 16-year-olds made the teens more than eight times more likely to drink excessively that year and twice as likely to do it up to their mid-30s.

The research analyzed data from more than 15,000 children born in Britain in the past 40 years. It considered four styles of parenting – authoritarian, tough love, permissive (laissez-faire) and disengaged.

It found tough love – where there are expectations, set boundaries and "warm" support was the best way to ensure children didn't become binge drinkers.

The study recommended parents not take a relaxed attitude to under-age drinking, avoid being drunk around their children, monitor access to alcohol in the home and discuss alcohol with them within the context of setting firm boundaries.

In New Zealand, the Alcohol Reform Bill is due to be passed into law next year. It will make 130 changes, including prohibiting convenience stores from selling alcohol and restricting supermarkets and grocery stores to displaying alcohol and advertising in one, non-prominent, area.