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Responsible use of alcohol encouraged

A growing minority of health care students misuse alcohol, and MUSC is not alone in this trend. Results from national studies show that 10 to 20 percent of health care students drink heavily and either have or are at risk for developing alcohol problems. MUSC is addressing this issue by implementing a prevention and intervention plan for its students.
Darlene Shaw, Ph.D.,  associate provost for Education and Student Life convened an Alcohol Advisory Group in 2009 for this purpose. Chaired by Suzanne Thomas, Ph.D., from the Charleston Alcohol Research Center, the group is comprised of students, faculty, and staff from MUSC's six colleges. The group was charged with  finding effective ways to promote responsible alcohol use and reduce problem drinking among students. As a result of their efforts, an initiative was implemented.
One element of this initiative is that each college, as well as some non-college programs, such as Interprofessional Education, Student Programs, and Public Safety, has agreed to adopt a month to host at least one activity to promote responsible use of alcohol or raise awareness about the issue of problematic drinking and campus resources that provide treatment.
In January, Interprofessional (IP) Programs presented a case study of an alcohol impaired resident during IP Day. In February, the College of Pharmacy hosted a presentation by pharmacy professionals in recovery from alcohol and other drug addiction. They shared their stories, and emphasized the nature of the “slippery slope” they experienced as they used alcohol to cope with the stress of school.
In March, the College of Health Professions hosted an event to train students about the concept of the standard drink. Developed by the Charleston Alcohol Research Center, a game called “Wheel of Pour-tune” was adopted for use at this event. The game is a hands-on, interactive demonstration that reveals how easy it is to overpour an alcoholic drink.
A standard drink unit is the measurement of alcohol that allows someone to accurately determine how many drinks he’s had. For example, a standard drink of beer is 12 oz; wine is 5 oz; 80 proof liquor is 1.5 oz. Someone who drinks two  cocktails containing 3 ounces of liquor, which is surprisingly common, is really consuming four drinks.
The College of Health Professions also distributed blood alcohol estimator cards and provided information from local cab companies to address the dangers of drinking and driving. A brochure on responsible drinking also was distributed to students.
Future alcohol education activities are planned for each month of the school year. Thomas said they are thoughtfully designed to be interesting and practical, providing useful information about alcohol, how to avoid developing problems, and how to help yourself or your friend if problems occur. These events will be advertised in student broadcast messages and through The Catalyst and will be held at times that are convenient for students to attend.


Friday, April 16, 2010

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.