Booze or Books? Alcohol Awareness and Book Smart!

Alongside time spent studying outside of class, alcohol consumption is the most significant predictor of a student's grade point average. It has more impact than working, watching television, online social networking -- even attending class.

Nobody will be surprised to hear that students are drinking, but because research into how students spend their time often stops short of examining the relationships between extracurricular pastimes and academic outcomes, a study may provide increased leverage in steering new students toward academic success.

Spare Time Use is Key to Success

Todd Wyatt, a doctoral candidate at George Mason University and director of research at Outside the Classroom, a company that addresses student public health issues like alcohol and substance use, wanted to pick up where academic journals sometimes leave off. "I felt that because the research stops at a certain point, there's this intense speculation" about how spare time affects academic performance.

For instance, one need not look far to find an academic who blames the distractions of the Internet or online social networking sites like Facebook for the fact that today's students spend less time than ever studying outside the classroom. But in reality, Wyatt found, that kind of technology -- besides taking up less time in the average student's week than class, working, studying and watching television -- does not appear to significantly affect academic outcomes.

In his study, which surveyed about 13,900 incoming freshmen at 167 colleges and universities who were also taking the AlcoholEDU freshman survey, Wyatt did find some variation in how students' pastimes affect different individuals.

For one thing, he found that students who drink and also volunteer or participate in other activities are less likely than their peers who drink and don't engage in such activities to experience negative consequences from drinking, such as performing poorly on assignments, missing class or work, or hurting their friends or themselves. "They're not drinking less, they're just drinking smarter," Wyatt said.

Local Wisconsin Businesses Support Underage Drinking

Underage drinking is an enormous problem all over the world. In the United States it has been in virtual epidemic proportions since the 1960s. Alcohol consumption among teens continues to rise due to peer pressure and ease of obtaining the booze.

Parents are one source teens use to obtain alcohol, and while this alarming trend seems to be gaining popularity, it appears stores have become more lax in the distribution of alcohol.

Merrill, Wisconsin

How common is it to have a legitimate businesses selling alcohol to minors? In Merrill almost 60% of the stores selling alcohol failed in a joint sting operation. Nearly 60 percent of Merrill businesses with liquor licenses failed to comply with a federal law that prohibits them from selling alcohol to minors.

The Merrill Police Department, with assistance from the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department, conducted alcohol compliance checks on 23 Merrill businesses in late May and early June. The checks involved underage volunteers who attempted to buy alcohol from the businesses, Merrill Police Chief Ned Seubert said.

The 13 businesses that failed the compliance checks either sold alcohol to minors, had no licensed beverage server on the premises or allowed minors to sell alcoholic beverages, Seubert said. Of those checked, 10 businesses were in compliance.

The department issued 13 citations as a result of the checks and those who failed must rectify their protocols for checking identification immediately. Maybe Wisconsin retailers need to take alcohol awareness classes?

The moral of this story – use common sense. It is important to do the right thing. Do not sell or buy alcohol for minors. We as a nation must do our best to curb underage alcohol consumption!

Scots Need Alcohol Awareness Classes Too

When one thinks of heavy drinking among the countries of the British Isles, Ireland usually is the first to come to mind. It turns out Scotland could use a good dose of alcohol awareness courses as well.

Worrying about the alcohol consumption among its constituents, the administrators in Lothian, Scotland have been running an alcohol intervention program on the people admitted to their local hospital. Their original concerns appear to be well justified.

Scary Findings

The scheme was launched in 2009 as a tactic to shock people of all ages and social class about the dangers of alcohol. After testing more than 30,000 patients in the local hospital, more than 12,000 patients were found to be drinking hazardous amounts of alcohol - including those in maternity wards. By gender, they found that 40 percent of Lothian men and about 33% of women were urged to cut down or quit drinking alcohol all together!

Scots’ Allow Double the Drinks as USA

Those found to be drinking too much were handed appropriate advice depending on the severity of their problem. Patients would be classed as "hazardous" if they were regularly exceeding daily limits of three-four units for men and two-three for women. In the United States they recommend no more than two alcohol drinks for men and one for women.

Anyone drinking more than two drinks per day should seriously consider cutting back. Remember, alcohol is a poison and certainly is not doing the body good with excess consumption.

Alcohol Awareness Glee Star Cory Monteith

This image was originally uploaded to Flickr by greginhollywood on 18 April, 2010

Actors often portray characters much younger or much older than they really are. They also have very different personalities and behave differently from the characters they portray.

Such is the case for 29-year-old Cory Monteith. On Fox’s hit series, “Glee,” he plays the high school jock who is a nice guy, Finn Hudson. The 29-year-old seems so natural playing a teenager you are led to believe that maybe Finn Hudson is close to the adolescent he was growing up.

 Teen Gone Wild

The handsome actor claims to have regularly cut class in favor of drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. Fueled by his alcoholic and drug-addicted behavior, Montieth made another bad decision when instead of quitting drugs and alcohol, he quit high school for good at age 16 (after attending a number of schools and an alternative program for troubled teens).

In his own words his drug use was, “anything and everything, as much as possible.”

Cory’s mother and friends were terrified by the small screen star’s destructive path. Fearing his habits would cost him his life, the group staged an intervention for Cory when he was 19 years old.

Drugs, Alcohol and Theft!

Like his attempts to finish high school, Cory dabbled in and out of rehab programs, always returning to his old ways. Cory’s actions finally caught up with him after he stole “a significant amount of money” from a member of his family.

Like many addicts who deep down decide they are tired of being a drug addict, his behavior became ever-more reckless. In an interview with Parade Magazine (June 26, 2011) he said, “I knew I was going to get caught, but I was so desperate I didn’t care.” “It was a cry for help. I was confronted and I said, ‘Yeah, it was me.’ It was the first honorable, truthful thing that had come out of my mouth in years.”

The family member he stole from gave the actor two choices: sober up, or the theft would be reported to the police and charges would be pressed. Cory opted to stop “fighting” himself, and set out to get clean.

After relocating to a small Canadian town (Nanaimo) to live with a family friend, he quit using drugs and became a roofer. Cory dabbled in acting, and after performing a scene about a suicidal man, finally felt a sense of pride from “working had and being good at something.”

“I don’t want kids to think it’s okay to drop out of school and get high, and they’ll be famous actors, too,” Cory explained of why he chose to speak out about his troubled past. “But for those people who might give up: Get real about what you want and go after it. If I can, anyone can.” Maybe he should also suggest that kids take a minor in possession class to learn more about alcohol abuse.

Does Alcohol Awareness Mean Banning Alcohol at the Beach?

For the better part of 20 years lawmakers have been attempting to ban alcohol from public beaches. As a recovering alcoholic who teaches alcohol awareness classes, I can tell you I spent plenty of time drinking on the beach – often getting drunk and sometimes getting into trouble. That said, most of my beach drinking and troubles occurred in high school and college.

The issue of alcohol on the beaches continues to create a heated debate, usually with irate homeowners tired of watching young men urinating in their yard. One of alcohol’s effects is to lower inhibition which would cause some people to do things they normally wouldn’t. It also affects our emotions and greatly increases the chances of violence.

Melbourne Residents Want Booze on the Beach

The issue of booze on the beach hit Melbourne, Florida recently, with the city commissioners deciding to continue to allow alcohol on the beach. The Melbourne Beach Town Commission rejected an ordinance June 15 that would ban booze on the beach. Instead, they asked the town staff to create a new ordinance that would better equip police when dealing with intoxicated instigators versus occasional beach-drinkers.

Even respected Community Figures Drink on the Beach

Former Melbourne Beach Commissioner Paul Guglietta said he's been known to drink the occasional beer or rum and coke on the beach, without becoming intoxicated.

"I understand now that if I do that and this law passes as it's written now, at the tender age of 74, I will become a law-breaker," he said.

Two Brevard County teachers also voiced their concern for potentially losing their teaching licenses if caught with a cocktail on the beach.

"If I suspect one student in my class is cheating, I can't fail my entire class," said Melbourne Beach resident Stephen Gallagher. "I don't think it's right to ban everybody just because there is a small group causing a problem."

As with everything else, drinking on the beach, in the hot sun, you have to show common sense. First, do not become overly inebriated. Second, do not do stupid things like urinating in public or fighting. Third, pick up after yourself.

Alcohol Awareness Classes Don't Teach Swimming to Escape a DUI

As strange as it sounds, this is a true story out of Longmont, Colorado. Last week a 32-year-old Boulder woman, Lisa Norton rammed her Ford pickup truck into the Nissan Coupe driven by Gabriel Nelson. Nelson died at the scene and two of his passengers, a woman and child were life-flighted to a local hospital.

Crazy Escape

No stranger to driving under the influence, or getting caught, Norton decided to try and flee the scene by running across a couple of streets, jumping into a lake and trying to swim to safety. Unfortunately, boaters who witnessed the entire scene apprehended Norton in the middle of the lake, called 911, and turned her over to police!

History of DUI

While toxicology reports had not come back yet, Longmont police feel certain Norton was legally intoxicated when the accident occurred. In this case, as with many DUI accidents, you cannot give Norton the benefit of the doubt.

Just 2 days prior to this accident Norton pleaded guilty to DUI and was sentenced to 12 months of probation and alcohol awareness classes. Norton was arrested on several charges, including suspicion of DUI-related vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, DUI and driving with a revoked license.

It is cases like Norton where you really wish there were even stronger penalties for DUI in Colorado.

Alcohol Awareness Tips for Safe Teen Functions

Adolescence is one of the most frightening times for a parent. This is where peers have as much or more influence over our children’s behavior than any other time in their lives. It also is the time they feel indestructible and are exposed to a variety of life-changing and life-threatening situations.

While we would love to chaperone or at least be a fly on the wall at all times. But that is an impossibility. There are, however, steps that both parents and teens can take to lessen the chances of negative influences and impacts on our children.

From my years of teaching alcohol awareness classes and minor in possession classes, here are a few tips. I welcome all my readers to reply with tips of their own.

Tips For Parents

  • Know and discuss the school code of conduct before the event with your child – so few parents actually know the school code-and the same could be said for the child. Make sure not only that they know this code, but will abide by the rules.
  • Know who your child will be hanging out with – It would also be a good idea to speak with some of the other parents to make sure they are on the same page.
  • Discuss the dangers of drinking and driving.
  • Talk with your child about the dangers of club drugs, warning signs and who to notify for assistance.
  • Pre-plan and role-play answers that your child can use to get out of uncomfortable situations. (e.g., offered alcohol, getting a ride from an intoxicated driver, unwanted sexual advances, etc.)
  • Discuss guidelines and a curfew. Discuss the consequences of violating these rules. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.
  • Discuss travel plans and make sure they know even if they drink – they are not to drive nor get in the car with a drunken driver!
  • Know who is driving and who will be a passenger. Limit the number of passengers to increase safety and reduce driver distractions.
  • Talk to your teenager about the serious dangers of drinking alcohol such as alcohol overdose or alcohol poisoning.
  • If your child’s’ plans change, confirm the change with the parents of other children.
  • Remind your child that you are there for them, if they need a ride home or to an after-prom affair.

Tips for Teens

  • Alcohol is illegal for persons under the age of 21. Underage drinking is illegal and can result in arrest, injury or worse!
  • Don’t let friends drink and drive.
  • Plan ahead—make sure you have a safe plan for travel.
  • Discuss your plans with your friends; remind each other about responsible decision-making and confronting peer pressure. This may be very difficult, but stay strong to your conviction so you do not become a statistic!
  • Do not accept any drinks from someone you do not know. If you leave your drink, discard it and get a new one.
  • Do not leave your possessions unattended.
  • Learn the warning signs for alcohol/drug poisoning and intoxication; contact 911 for assistance and immediate treatment.
  • Take extra money or have a responsible person available for transportation for a safe ride home or in case an emergency arises.
  • Remember to charge your cell phone and have it with you.
  • Know where you are and where you are going; keep your parents and friends informed.
  • Trust your instincts, if you feel endangered or uncomfortable, leave immediately.
  • Intoxication by alcohol or drugs can lead to poor judgment and dangerous situations.
  • Remember to contact your parents if your plans change.
  • Practice and discuss answers you can use to get out of uncomfortable situations.
  • Do not allow anyone in your car that has alcohol, drugs or weapons. It is dangerous and everyone in the car is at risk of getting arrested. This seems like a no-brainer, but it happens all the time.

Remember that a minor in possession class can be very helpful to learn about the dangers of drinking. I recommend them highly for teens!

Sugar Ray Admits Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Sugar Ray Not So Sweet After All

One of my all-time greatest athletes to watch was Sugar Ray Leonard. His epic bouts with Roberto Duran, Tommy Hearns and Marvin Hagler transcended the boxing ring. Sugar Ray was always to “good guy” beating the mean monsters of the ring for all of other “good guys.”

It turns out, like many things in life, there is more than meets the eye. In his new tell-all autobiography, “The Big Fight: My Life in and Out of the Ring”, the 55-year-old admits to marital infidelity and abusing both alcohol and cocaine.

While he doesn’t come out and say alcohol and cocaine ruined his career, they certainly help tear his personal life apart. He still is mostly estranged from his children. He is mending his relationship with his sons Ray, Jr and Jerrell.

The big problem I have with this book is it seems like just another attempt by a fading star to capture one more moment of celebrity. He is not so apologetic about his behavior, in fact he uses his behavior of philandering and drug use to show that he overcame obstacles in order to succeed.

While I know everyone has faults and even Sugar Ray is no impervious to the evils of alcohol and drugs, but Leonard’s message should have been stronger about the ill effects he suffered from using these vices rather than showing what a strong person he is because he became a great boxer in spite of these “roadblocks” in his life.

My feelings toward Sugar Ray have definitely soured.

Idaho Politician’s Future Down the Drain with DUI

One of the young up and coming members of the Republican Party in Iowa just ruined his political career. Senate Caucus Chairman John McGee was released from the Ada County Jail on a $5,000 bond after a short 10-minute hearing last week.

Grand Theft Auto and DUI

The 38-year-old Caldwell Republican was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with a felony truck theft and misdemeanor DUI after police found him in the backseat of an SUV — towing a 20-foot trailer — that witnesses say he initially tried to drive off in.

It appeared from the brief hearing that McGee's attorney may argue that a medical issue was at play. Police say McGee registered a .15 blood alcohol content — nearly twice the legal driving limit of .08.

McGee is serving his fourth term in the Idaho Senate, and had been considered by many political watchers to be a contender for higher office.

A former aide to Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, McGee has been mentioned frequently as a candidate for higher office, including governor. He is the chairman of the Canyon County GOP.

Police say McGee was drinking late Saturday night at a Boise golf course clubhouse, but left on foot. Sometime before 3 a.m., he got in a Ford Excursion with the keys still in it and tried to drive it away. He ended up jack-knifing the rig in a nearby driveway, according to two teen boys who say they watched the scene play out.

The boys' mother, Tracey Carleton, said Sunday that McGee appeared to be disoriented and hallucinating.

Katy Perry Sends Wrong Alcohol Awareness Message

There is no doubt Katy Perry is a talented performer. The wife of current Hollywood front man Russell Brand is currently on tour for her breakthrough album “California Dreams.”

While it is nice to hear that the young Diva takes good care of herself on the road – no alcohol, coffee or other foods that may affect her voice, it is disheartening to hear her plans for a huge Bacchanalian Orgy when the tour ends later this year.

"I'm pretty boring on the road because I save it all for the stage, so I'm on a strict vitamin diet” she admits. "I can't eat spicy food or dairy because they're bad for your voice. I can't even do coffee. So you'll find me staring at the white wine in the fridge backstage.

“But when the tour is over I'm going to be a devil and hit a wild streak. I'll be face down in the porcelain.”

I mean really, do we need to hear the graphic details of how incredibly inebriated you plan on getting? Perry is a rising star in the entertainment industry, but she already is getting the reputation for being very “Diva-ish.” If she doesn’t control her behavior her image may tarnish forever.