Tapping Into Alcohol Revenue in College

It may come as a surprise to some of you to know that many of the students I teach in my alcohol awareness classes and minor in possession classes also are taking courses at the local colleges and universities.  Yes, it appears many college-age people wind up getting into alcohol-related trouble.  Drinking alcohol is as symbolic an image of college as textbooks and professors.  Just yesterday Playboy Magazine came out with its annual list of top “party” schools.  This year’s victor – the University of Colorado (Boulder). 

Beer in the Cafeteria

Way back in the day when I was in school (early 1980s), beer was even more prevalent on college campuses than it is today.  Yes, you read that correctly.  My students are often amazed at how out of control alcohol consumption was 30 years ago.  The “rushing” period for fraternities was a month long, with alcohol-binging parties every single night. 

Another amazing note is that beer was served in the cafeteria.  Now even the university had some sense and only served it to students on Friday and Saturday nights.  We used to play quarters for hours every weekend in our university dining hall - crazy times.

Changing of the Guard

Those days have long past and universities have taken to controlling the consumption of alcoholic beverages on their campuses and by their students.   I distinctly remember when the policies at my university changed with the hiring off a new chancellor.  The changes at my prestigious alma mater will live forever in the REM song, ‘The End of the World.”

Universities have come down hard on fraternities and sororities for hazing.  They are more vigilant toward having RAs monitor drinking in dorms.  The administrative offices have put out a strong message that they do not condone the use of alcohol.  Yet, drinking still plays a major role for many collegians.

Money Changes Everything

The NCAA does not allow the consumption of alcohol at sporting events that take place on the college campus.  Even at a big draw tournament like the “Big Dance” (annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament) there is no alcohol served regardless of where the games are played.  The NCAA strictly forbids the sale of alcohol.

But money has come into play.  Universities recognize the revenue they could generate by selling alcohol at their games.  While it may be true that a good percentage of the students attending the games are probably buzzed on alcohol or others drugs, does that mean the university should sell alcohol at these games?

Many universities already sell alcohol at sporting events that take place off campus, while others do not.  With all schools vying for every possible dollar they can get, alcohol sales appears to be a savior for some schools.

Most recently the University of West Virginia is contemplating the sale of alcohol at their football games.  For those of you who don’t know it, the Mountaineers’ faithful are some of the biggest tailgaters in the country, so allowing them to continue the party inside the stadium might very well be a recipe for disaster.

What do you think?  Should schools profit from the sale of alcohol at their sporting events?  

Has Drinking Alcohol Damaged Your Brain?

People always talk about the dangerous health effects of alcohol on the brain. And certainly after a person has died they can look at the physical brain and see the damage. But is there a way to assess brain damage while the person is still alive.

Sophisticated Technology

There's lots of very esoteric tools that can measure brain activity. Such technology includes positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electrophysiological brain mapping, and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Reasearchers use these devices to measure various physical aspects of the living brain.

One thing they have found is that drinking over a long periods of time actually shrinks the brain. DTI and MRI can measure these changes. Obviously if the brain and nerves are smaller, then they can process less information.

Researchers have also studied memory and attention of people who are drinkers. It's been well know that these mental factors improve over time once a person has stopped drinking. And then gets worse when that person starts drinking again. By using MRIs these scientists are attempting to see what inside the brain actually changes when somebody stops drinking and then starts drinking again later.


Electroencephalography (EEG) is something that can be used to monitor or record the electrical signals in the brain. Little electrodes are put on the head of the person being monitored. They can sense electrical activities (or brain waves) and graph the activity of the brain as it is happening.

Men who are heavy drinkers have a quite different EEG profile from non-drinkers. They call it the P3 amplitude and it's something an expert can see at a glace. The difference in women is less pronounced, but it is still noticiable. The surprising conclusion after much research is not that alcoholism causes the brainwave changes but the different in brainwaves may indicated that somebody has a propensity to become an alcoholic. A startling conclusion!

They are hoping that if we can identify why these people have a different P3 then maybe there's a gene or something else that can be isolated as a cause of alcoholism.

Meet Your PET

Another interesting tool is the PET scanner which can monitor bloodflow dynamically. Blood flow if measured properly is a good indicator of how well a brain is functiontioning. What they've found is that in long term alcoholics these blood flows are less than with non-drinkers. This change is particularly noticable in the brain's frontal lobes which is the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory. That's maybe why alcoholic have such a difficult time in these areas.

The other part of the brain which appear imapacted is the cerebellum. This part of the brain controls coordination and movement. The shaky hands of an alcoholic and difficulty walking? It seems there's a connection here. What these researchers are hoping for is to maybe build some drugs that can help alcoholics who have suffered brain damage from their long-term use of alcohol.

What's Next?

Alcohol and drug abuse have been a problem for centuries. But with the technology of today maybe we can conquer these illnesses with something as simple as a pill? The results are probably years away, but in the meantime, there's always alcohol classes!

Source: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa63/aa63.htm

Track Your Drinking This Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol Awareness Month - Take a day off from drinking this week

It's Alcohol Awareness Month (April 2011). This is the time really think about your alcohol consumption. How much are you drinking? Do you think you can cut down.

One of the things that you're supposed to do during this month is to take a day off from drinking every week of the month. That means nothing. Not a beer. Not a glass of wine. No mixed drinks.

But I'm going to go one further on this. Can we track how much alcohol we drink during the month. It's harder than you think. But here's what a propose (something I teach my students in alcohol awareness classes). Try to track your alcohol every day of the month.

Sound easy? It is! Once you get yourself in the habit. Here's what you need to do.

  1. Get yourself a little spiral notebook. Something small that you can fit in your pocket. 
  2. You need 5 pages of the notebook On for every week of the month (the first week has only 2 days in it)
  3. Divide each page from top to bottom into 7 lines. Put the days of the week on each line. Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat and Sun.
  4. Then carry this notebook everywhere with you. Every time you have a drink mark a tic on today's line.

That's all there is to it! Now a couple of things you have to remember to make this work. First make sure that you carry this notebook with you whereever you go. even if you don't think that you'll be drinking, it's still a good idea to have it with you. It will help you think about drinking. Or be "aware of drinking" as the month is supposed to be about.

At the end of the month you'll have a notebook filled with tic marks. Or maybe not too many. It doesn't matter. 

You've done the first step. You're aware of your alcohol consumption. That's great.

Now at the end of the month (May 1), I'll have an exercise for you on what to do with the tics that you've been tracking. So it will be a good exercise.

In the meantime, good tracking and good alcohol awareness!

Spanish Alcohol Awareness Class is Now Available

In order to meet the rising demand for Spanish Alcohol Awareness Classes, Online Alcohol Class has launched it's new Alcohol and Drug Awareness Class in Spanish. This professionally designed course was translated by a team of native Spanish speakers to deliver the same excellent experience of our English alcohol and drug class, but now in the Spanish language.

The Spanish speaking population is the fastest growing group in the U.S. According to recent U.S. Census data, The total Hispanic population in 2010 was just over 50 million people which constitutes 16% percent of the total population. This is a 43% increase from the last census count in 2000. Native Spanish speakers have historically been an underserved population in many areas including online educational progams programs. Alcohol awareness classes are no exception. So Online Alcohol Class is proud to be able to serve these people with quality alcohol awareness classes.

Like our English language alcohol awareness classes, we offer 3 different programs to suit Spanish speakers individual needs:

  • 8 Hour Level 1 Spanish Alcohol and Drug Awareness Class
  • 16 Hour Level 2 Spanish Alcohol and Drug Awareness Class
  • 24 Hour Level 3 Spanish Alcohol and Drug Awareness Class

All classes are suitable for people who want to satisfy a personal, legal or corporate alcohol awareness class requirement. The are in a completely online format with no downloads or special software required to take the class. The classes are in a self-paced format which teach students many aspects of alcohol use, including:

  • Problems and patterns of alcohol and drug use
  • Risk and consequences of using alcohol and drugs
  • Alcohol Abuse's high cost on the individual and the population at large
  • Skills in managing stress and emotions
  • Communication and relationships as a foundation for recovery and prevention
  • Skills for managing negative consequences associated with alcohol use
The alcohol and drug awareness courses are identical in price and content to our english language classes. Our programs are also backed by Online Alcohol Class's Money-Back Guarantee. This takes away any of the hassle or worry for somebody wanting to take our program.

Click here to register for our Spanish Alcohol Awareness Class

Watch this video from ABC News about the new demographics in our country:

Be Aware that Beer is Alcohol Too

Frequently when I'm teaching an alcohol class, I get comments from students like, "I only drink beer. How can I been an alcoholic?" or "Beer isn't as bad as hard liquor. This blog post will hopefully remove these myths from your mind. You definitely can have a drinking problem or be an alcoholic if you drink just beer

Beer Has A Long History

Beer is perhaps the world's oldest of alcoholic beverages. Some of the stories of its consumption are pretty amazing. Like the fact that Medieval monks drank over 5 quarts (the equivalent of a 12 pack) of beer every single day. Of course for them, part of the reason they drank it is for its nutritional value (sure!).

Let's Look at the numbers

Beer legally is 6-12 proof (which means is contains between 3 and 6% alcohol).  This is quite a bit lower than the a distilled liquor or spirit like gin or tequilla. But just because it's lower doesn't mean it doesn't qualify as an alcoholic beverage. Beer IS an alcoholic beverage.

How much beer do people drink? Obviously some countries are heavier beer drinkers than others. The consensus is that Ireland is the world’s biggest beer drinking country were they drink on average 41 gallons per person per year. German is also a big beer drinker at 31.5 gallons per person. By comparison the United States is a relatively small consumer of beer at 22.5 gallons per person. But remember we're talking about just beer. This doesn't include wine and other spirits.

Russia Finally Concedes that Beer is Alcohol

Russia has a repuation for heavy drinking and the alcohol of choice for them has always been vodka. Beer, on the other hand was never considered an alcoholic beverage. What did this mean? It meant that beer in Russia was treated the same as any non-alcohlic beverage like soft drinks, coffee or even water. 

This meant that anybody could buy as much beer as they want as at any time they wanted. You would commonly find workmen drinking beer on their way to their jobs or teenagers hanging out at the park during chugging beers during their lunch. Many Russians consider beer as another kind of a soft drink like Coca Cola or 7-Up.  You might not be surprised that the consumption of beer has increased almost 15 times in the last 15 years.

Finally, in Februrary 2011, a law was passed by the Russian Parliament to change the classification of beer from a "food" to an "alcoholi beverage" (which clearly it is).

Basketball Player Chris Mullin Knows Beer is Alcohol

Perhaps you don't recognize the name Chris Mullin. He was a well regarded college basketball player at St. John’s University, a member of the 1992 Olympic Basketball Team, and subsequently a NBA All-Star with the Golden State Warriors before his career was basically halted by his drinking problems. What did he drink? Beer.  Chris Mullin said that he used to drink more than a case of beer in per day. Sometimes he would split a case (that's 12 beers for himself) with his brother and then later play professional basketball that night. Did he think he was a medevial monk?

Mullin did finally become sober in 1987 and in the end was able to overcome his addiction issues with the help of alcohol awareness classes and Alcoholics Anonymous

Despite its legal status, it is important to understand that alcohol is a drug and its use must be controlled.  If you or anyone you know may be suffering from alcohol dependence, please have them seek help immediately.  There are online options to take voluntary and involuntary courses on alcohol rehabilitation.

Top 10 Times to be Extra Aware about Your Alcohol Consumption

If you are somebody who has a drinking problem, are an alcoholic or a recovering alcoholic, you know that watching your drinking is something that you need to do all the time. But there are times when you need to be extra careful and vigilent. Here are the top 10:

1. At a Party. This is an obvious one. If you're at a party and lots of alcohol is being consumed, you're going to feel like you need to drink a lot too. It's natual. Plus your friends will encourage you to "join the fun". It's time to be strong, grab that glass of seltzer and enjoy people's company without having to drink.

2. During Holidays. Many holidays have drinking as part of the tradition. Maybe they aren't the official part, but drinking during holidays is quite common. Some people think that St. Patrick's Day is all about drinking green beer or the 4th of July about having liquor by the BBQ. But don't get sucked into the wrong kind of holiday spirit.

3. Out With Friends. After work or on the weekend, often times getting together with friends is also a time for drinking. Why is this? Well getting together with friends often happens at a bar or restaurant where drinking is definitely encouraged. Plus you have the same peer pressure that you would at a party.

4. At a Sporting Event. When tailgating or watching a sports game, drinking is a big part of the experience... at least in the opinion of every major beer company. But going to the ballgame doesn't have to only be about having a beer. It's really the sport that matters and being drunk can really get in the way of enjoying the game. Not only can you see the action better when you're sober but you won't miss the big play if you're not spending your time in line at the restroom.

5. When you Have Guests Over. In many cultures, part of the ritual of having friends over to your house is offering them something to drink. Especially in the evenings this can be wine or an other type of drink. So you want to be a good host, but also not partake in the drinking. It takes willpower and self confidence to really do this.

6. During Meals. Lots of times when we eat we like to drink at the same time. In one sense drinking during a meal isn't a bad thing because it means that you'll get drunk more slowly as the food absorbs alcohol. But on the other hand that sometimes encourages people to drink more than they should. And there's the cultural aspect as well. People think that you have to have red wine with steak or sake with sushi or beer with Mexican food. None of this is true. There are excellent non-alcoholic alternatives.

7. Watching TV. If you're watching TV and drinking, watch out! The fact that you're only paying half attention to your alcohol consumption means that you can easily drink a lot more than you are planning. Soon that one glass of wine becomes an entire bottle of wine. So make sure you're very careful when you're going to spend an evening in front of the TV.

8. When it's Hot Outside. Nothing can be more satisfying when it's hot outside to have a nice cool beverage. Unfortunately what people often reach for is a beer or other icy alcoholic beverage. The cold drink is fine, but having it be alcoholic isn't necessary to cool down. And when it's hot people tend to drink more and drink faster. So when it's hot outside reach for something like water, lemonade or soda.

9. On Vacation. Vacation is often a time to let loose, relax and have a good time. Unfortunately people often associate this with drinking. If you watch commercials of people at vacation destinations you frequently see them in a hammock with a tropical cocktail in their hand. This isn't the only way to have fun when you're not working!

10. When You're Depressed. This is the worst time to drink. You're depressed and unhappy and need something to take you mind off what's bothering you. So you reach for the liquor or beer try to have the willpower not to drain the bottle. Seek other means of support such as a group or counselor.

Anytime you're in a situation where drinking of alcohol is encouraged, you should be extra careful. Often an alcohol class will help you to recognize these times better understand that many times you think you want to drink you really don't need to drink.




The Difference Between Alcoholics Anonymous and an Online Alcohol Awareness Class

Often when students contact about attending one of our alcohol awareness classes, they want to know the difference between them and Alcoholics Anonymous. The big difference is that Alcoholics Anonymous (or A.A.) is primarily concerned with recovery for alcoholics while alcohol classes are concerned with teaching people about drinking. So really the difference is huge.

A.A. goes about their recovery efforts in a very specific way:

Alcoholics Anonymous® is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism

Basically they focus on supporting one another as the primary method to help get past and recover from alcoholism. And this recovery happens mostly in a group setting.

Alcohol awareness classes are quite different. The focus on these classes is alcohol awareness education. In other words it's about learning about the effects of drinking and drugs and the potential consequences of excessive drinking. Sometimes people who take these classes have just had to deal with these consequences. Maybe they've been required to take the class because of a DUI or maybe they have to take it because they were caught drunk in public. But the point of these class is not recovery from alcoholism but education about it. 

The difference is subtle and for some people an alcohol class is a good step on the road to recovery. Just learning about the problem can really help somebody to realize that they actually might have a problem. Then if they need to get involved in recovery, they can look at the different options that are available to them.

A.A. is one such option and it definitely works for some people extremely well. But others may find it not their cup of tea. Perhaps they need support from their church or maybe the need an in-patient treatment program or an out-patient treatment program. It's really up to them to find the best sort of program which is going to meet their needs.

A.A does offer alcohol classes in some areas as well. But usually these classes are best taken by a person who is actually in an A.A. program and attends their groups. This is because their educational materials are focused on their form of treatement. This is in no way bad or good, it's just the A.A. way. And as I've said it works for some people well and others not so well.

Our alcohol awareness classes are educationational in nature and are not biased towards one form of recovery or another. I dare say our classes can help in many situations and it's unlikely that they will hurt.

Feeling Green the Day After Saint Patrick’s Day

Have you ever woken up on March 18th and been hung over? Often when I teach alcohol awareness classes we discuss St. Patrick’s Day and the role it plays in my students lives.  It may not surprise you that high percentage of students taking alcohol awareness classes think that St. Patrick’s Day is symbolic of heavy drinking.

As a recovering alcoholic I admit that St. Patrick’s Day to me was synonymous with getting drunk.  After years of fighting with friends over who was to be the designated driver, almost always with that person drinking to some extent anyway, we started taking taxis.  I would like to say it was because we were being responsible, but as with most things in life, you have to learn from experience.  One year our designated driver on St. Patty’s Day got pulled over and received a DUI.

Take A Taxi

Those of you who read my blog post regularly know that one of the things I always harp on is using the taxi service.  If you drive to a party far from home and are drinking, take a taxi to a friend’s house, or even a motel.  A $20 cab ride and $40 motel is sure cheaper than a $1,500.00 DUI. 

There Is No Need To Get Wasted

I have yet to have even one student from one of my alcohol awareness classes admit to like the feeling of being hung-over.  There is nothing fun about headaches and nausea.  Despite the numerous hangover remedies, there is really nothing that makes you feel better – even “Hair of the Dog.”

Please, do not misunderstand me if you are not an alcoholic and you act responsibly, it is fine to celebrate Ireland’s Patron Saint by tipping back a cold one, or even two.  The key to most things in life is moderation.  For the first few years of my sobriety I would not leave the house on St. Patrick’s Day.  Now, a number of my sober friends get together and have a huge corned beef and cabbage dinner.

Find A New Image for St. Patrick


There are many ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without drinking alcohol. While never a big lover of parade’s I have to admit that St. Patrick’s Day parades are quite enjoyable. It may have been the first parade I had attended since childhood where I remained sober.

There is an espirit de corps, a joie de vie among the revelers at a Saint Patty’s Day parade that make it a real hoot. Of course there are always a few in attendance that are visibly intoxicated. They will be feeling green the next morning, that is for sure!

Many cities, Seattle being one of them, re-paint the city street lines green on the parade route. Other cities dye the waterways green. Indianapolis dyes its canal green and Savannah, Georgia dyes all the water in its public fountains emerald.

I encourage you to look at alternative ways to celebrate this festive holiday. Irish folksongs are played in coffee shops and Irish art shows go on throughout many metropolitan areas. It is possible to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day without alcohol. And let me tell you from personal experience, it is always better to wake up on the morning (or afternoon) of the 18th not feeling so green.


In Person vs Online Alcohol Awareness Classes, What's the Difference?

If you're one of those people who has an alcohol awareness class requirement, sometimes you have to choose between two options: online alcohol awareness class or in person alcohol awareness class.

There are lots of different things to weigh when trying to make this choice. For example, do you want to drive to a class? Which is more affordable? Do you like group class settings? Hopefully this blog post will help you make this decision.

Location and Times

The first thing to consider is class location and times. If you are considering an in-person course, is the location where the class is being held convenient for you? Are the times convenient for you? For example, many in-person classes are held either in the evenings during the week or on the weekend. Check to see if these times work for you. Of course an online class has the convenience of being taken at any time and you can take them from the comfort of your home. So usually an online class is going to be a lot more convenient for most people.

Computer Access

For an online class you're going to need a computer with an internet connection to be able to access the class. If you don't have access to a computer or the internet, then maybe this isn't the option for you. An in-person class doesn't need a computer. You just need to go there.


In-person classes usually cost between $25 and $40 per session. That means an 8 hour or 8 session class is going to cost you between $200 to over $300. That doesn't include the gas or bus fare you may need to get to the class. An online option is usually much cheaper (for example our 8 hour alcohol awareness class is $149). Sometimes if you are low-income you can ask the person teaching the in-person class for a discount or they may have a low-fee program.

Group Setting

Many people like group settings. They like to be able to interact with other people who have the same problems they do and talk with them about those problems. For these people an in-person class can really be the right choice. But if you are a person who is embarassed easily and don't like being force to talk about your problems, then maybe an online class is a better option. These classes are more suited if you prefer privacy about your class.

Sometimes You Can't Decide

Of course some state courts have requirements which may make the decision for you. For example in Colorado, if you have a DUI they usually don't let you taken an online  program unless you get special permission. So it's always good to check with court before you sign up.

Is College Alcohol Consumption Just Partying or Alcohol Addiction?

What do you think of when you remember your college experience? Is it going to class and studying for exams? Watching your foodball team win some games? Well for me I just remember what I spent a lot of my time doing... partying.

The statistics say that drinking is ingrained in the life of college students in the U.S. Some might call it a cancer. Research has shown that over 75% of college students drank alcohol in the past month and half of those say that they got drunk during that same month. It's more drinking that people in society at large.

Party In College Hollywood Style

The movies have always depicted the fun parts of being in college revolving around drinking and going to parties. Look at older films like Animal House or even new ones like The Social Network. Students aren't having a good time when they're throwing the frisbee on the quad. They have fun when they are tapping the keg.

While these stats might alarm you, you should also take a look at the longer-term effect drinking alcohol during while attending university has on the people who do it. As a director for alcohol awareness classes, I often query my the students that went to college about how much they drank.

Obviously it's not the most unbiased group (they are taking an alcohol class after all), but 75% of my students have attended college and 9 out of 10 said they drank during college. So my next question is:

Is College Drinking Fun or Addiction?

My personal feeling is that it's both fun and an addiction. Lots of people drink to lower their inhibitions and make them feel more comfortable interacting socially. Clearly alcohol is not needed for this, but it's an easy way, a shortcut to get to the point where you feel more comfortable being social. The fun immediately follows from that.sistance.

Drinking beers at an occasional gathering, maybe even becoming a little tipsy, is for most people not harmful. Some might write that off as just part of the college experience. After college they go back to not drinking that much or maybe even quitting altogether.

Is it Leading to Addiction?

But there are others (and I count myself as one of those others) where this drinking laid the foundation for future addiction problems. More than 80% of my students in their 20s don't think they're alcoholics, and most deny their drinking alcohol during their formative teenage era contributed to their levels of drinking now.

We are Creatures of Habit

People are by nature habitual. Most of us have a routine by which we live our lives. Drinking or not drinking is a habit. If you consume alcohol only occasionally and have that one cocktail on your special night out with your boyfriend or wife you have a drinking habit. But this isn't the sort of habit that's a drinking problem habit. One might argue that the glass of red wine is even a healthy habit.

Our habits are not permanent, as you can see by the students who returned to a lighter and more normal drinking pattern when they leave school.

Try to Think of your Past Drinking

Think for a moment about your drinking habits when you were a teenager, then in your 20s and 30s (if you are that old) and every subseqent decade.

If you notice a pattern of escalation or even maintaining high drinking levels, maybe it's time to think about changing that habit. Don't let the pattern of drinking a lot in college continue as a habit into later than life. Maybe you don't need to drink so much. And don't be afraid to ask for help if you reach this conclusion.

Give yourself an honest evaluation. If you think you have a problem, I urge you to seek help. In addition to programs like Alcoholics Anonymous there are online alcohol classes and online alcohol awareness classes that can be taken from home that can be of help.