Alcohol and Other Drugs

Most Pacific University students choose to use alcohol and other drugs safely. When polled, the vast majority of students agreed that keeping themselves and their friends safe while using was one of their closely held values.

Safe Use

  • Know your limits. Students often confuse the enjoyable parts of substance use (lowered inhibitions, meeting new people, having new experiences, physical enjoyment) with intoxication—when actually intoxication is most associated with negative experiences (blacking out, alcohol poisoning, hangovers, vomiting, poor decision making).
  • Make it ok for others not to use. If someone you're with doesn't want to use, support and accept their choice. We often "allow" a pass for someone who is a designated driver or in recovery—but what about people who just don't want to? Peer pressure is lame, don't do it.
  • Know the symptoms of alcohol poisoning—don't leave someone alone who has had too much to drink.
  • Be aware of your responsibilities and the consequences to your actions. Make good choices. If you host a party and someone gets hurt, you could be held responsible.
  • Watch out for others. If you see someone making poor choices, reach out and support them. Don't leave friends alone in strange situations or with people they don't know.
  • Understand how intoxication prevents the ability consent to sexual activity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Pacific University's policy on alcohol and drug use?

A full description of the alcohol and substance use policy is found in Article III, Section B of the Student Code of Conduct.

What is alcohol poisoning and how can I avoid it?

Excessive drinking can be hazardous to everyone's health! It can be particularly stressful if you are the sober one taking care of your drunk roommate, who is vomiting while you are trying to study for an exam.

Some people laugh at the behavior of others who are drunk. Some think it's even funnier when they pass out. But there is nothing funny about the aspiration of vomit leading to asphyxiation or the poisoning of the respiratory center in the brain, both of which can result in death.

Do you know about the dangers of alcohol poisoning? When should you seek professional help for a friend? Sadly enough, too many college students say they wish they would have sought medical treatment for a friend. Many end up feeling responsible for alcohol-related tragedies that could have easily been prevented.

Common myths about sobering up include drinking black coffee, taking a cold bath or shower, sleeping it off, or walking it off. But these are just myths, and they don't work. The only thing that reverses the effects of alcohol is time-something you may not have if you are suffering from alcohol poisoning. And many different factors affect the level of intoxication of an individual, so it's difficult to gauge exactly how much is too much

What happens to your body when you get alcohol poisoning?

Alcohol depresses nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex (which prevents choking). A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually stop these functions.

It is common for someone who drank excessive alcohol to vomit since alcohol is an irritant to the stomach. There is then the danger of choking on vomit, which could cause death by asphyxiation in a person who is not conscious because of intoxication.

You should also know that a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can continue to rise even while he or she is passed out. Even after a person stops drinking, alcohol in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. It is dangerous to assume the person will be fine by sleeping it off.

Signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning

  • Mental confusion, stupor, coma, or person cannot be roused.
  • Vomiting.
  • Seizures.
  • Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute).
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths).
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness.

What should I do if I suspect someone has alcohol poisoning?

  • Don't leave the person alone to "sleep it off."
  • Make sure the person is turned on their side to prevent aspiration of vomit
  • If you live in the residence halls, contact your R.A. for help
  • If you cannot reach your R.A. or you live off campus, call CPS or 911

But I don't want to get in trouble - I was drinking too!

Some people express concern that they will get in trouble if they help someone who has alcohol poisoning. Fortunately, most Pacific students realize that the risks to someone's life far outweigh any potential sanctions the university might impose.

My friend has a substance abuse problem— how can I help them?

Being the friend of someone with a substance abuse problem can be really difficult. On one hand, you want to help them before they seriously injure themselves or someone else - on the other hand you don't want to upset them, get them in trouble, or ruin your friendship. Here are some tips on how to help someone you care about who has a substance abuse problem.

  • Show your concern for your friend and express how you feel about what you are seeing. Use "I" statements to diffuse defensiveness (e.g. "Conrad, I feel really scared when you get so drunk - I don't want anything to happen to you.")
  • Be considerate of your friend’s privacy; choose a time and place that is away from other people when you choose to have a conversation about the issue. Do not confront your friend while he or she is intoxicated or high; choose a time when you are both sober and calm.
  • Recognize that your friend may not realize that there is a problem, or your friend may become defensive and even deny that such a problem exists.
  • Focus the conversation on the behaviors that concern you, citing specific examples when your friend put her or himself or someone else at risk. Do not attack the person’s character, but stay focused on the behaviors and consequences.
  • Share with your friend the resources that are available on campus to help or support students with substance abuse problems or concerns. Make sure your friend knows where he/she can get this assistance. The Pacific University Counseling Center, Health Center, and Campus Wellness Office are all good resources.
  • Support your friends, but don’t protect them from the consequences of their behavior. Help them understand what those consequences are before it is too late.
  • Support your friend once he/she has recognized that there is a problem. Stick by when times are tough.
  • Do not feel that you must accept responsibility for your friend’s behavior.
  • Try to avoid putting yourself in a position in which you are invited to drink alcohol or use drugs with your friend.
  • Get support. This can be a tough time for your relationship. The Counseling Center and the Campus Wellness Office both offer consultations on this topic. Talking with a professional can sometimes give you new ideas or perspectives.

I smoke pot because it's natural and doesn't have any risks, right?

As legalization of marijuana has gained momentum, we're hearing more and more from students about how "safe" and "natural" it is. But saying "smoking pot is better than doing meth" isn't really a good argument, is it? Let's stop with the rhetoric for a moment and look at the facts:

Marijuana use is illegal in Oregon unless a person has a medical marijuana card and is against Federal Law.

Marijuana isn't any more natural than tobacco or wine— and hopefully you know the negative consequences of the abuse of those substances. It's also important to note that the marijuana you're getting today ain't your grandpappy's weedno one was smoking g13 at Woodstock. You need to understand that today's marijuana is carefully and scientifically cultivated. The THC levels are very concentrated and NOT what you would find in "nature."

Marijuana is a drug. Legal, illegal - doesn't matter.  It's still a drug. Does that mean smoking a bowl is the same as shooting heroin? No. Does it mean that you can smoke all the time with no consequences though? No. ANY drug used regularly will impact your body's chemistry. That's true for Asprin, coffee, bath salts, alcohol...and marijuana too.

Marijuana is addicting if you abuse it. Yes, you read that correctly. Are you going to get DTs and seizures from withdrawal? No. Are you going to feel like you really, really, really want to smoke even though it's probably not a great idea (e.g. when sitting for a final)? Probably.

The take home message here isn't one of reefer madness — no one is going to send you to rehab if you smoke occasionally. But please keep in mind that just because it's a plant, it's socially acceptable, and it doesn't cause severe withdrawals that means you can smoke all the time with no consequences.

People keep telling me I have a substance problem but I don't think I do. Do I?

Often people find it difficult to accept that they might have a drug or alcohol-related problem. This makes a lot of sense given our society's harsh judgments about these people. Here at Pacific University we value growth, empathy, and self-awareness. If you struggle with drinking and/or other drug use, we want to help you - not punish you.

If you aren't yet ready to talk to someone about your concerns, or are uncertain if you do have a problem, you can follow the links below to take an anonymous survey and find out where you stand.

AlcoholScreening.org

DrugScreening.org

If, after taking the surveys, you feel the need to talk to someone about your concerns, please do not hesitate. You can contact any of the on-campus services below for a free confidential consultation.

Laura Siltanen | Campus Wellness Coordinator

503-352-CARE

Student Counseling Center | 503-352-2191

Student Health Services | 503-352-2269

Where can I go for help with my addiction?

If you feel the need to talk to someone about your concerns, please do not hesitate. You can contact any of the on-campus services below for a free confidential consultation.

Laura Siltanen | Campus Wellness Coordinator

503-352-CARE

Student Counseling Center | 503-352-2191

Student Health Services | 503-352-2269

There are also many resources outside Pacific University that can help.