An unfortunate reality of college life is a culture that seems to encourage alcohol abuse. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 16.6 percent of college students can be categorized as problem drinkers.
That fact is not lost on the Student Support Services staff at OCCC. They work to prevent and treat alcohol dependency.
As young adults facing a new world of greater independence, college students can find it hard to balance their increasingly busy lives, said Jenna Howard, licensed mental health counselor at OCCC.
However, she said, it is detrimental to find a balance by abusing alcohol.
While partying and hanging out with friends can provide a suitable environment for adult activity, Howard said, some college students take drinking past occasional use and become dependent on the substance. That’s when many adverse effects can arise. Bloodalcohol.info is a website that works to educate individuals about the negative ways alcohol affects the body.
According to the site, long-term abuse of alcohol can lead to health issues such as damage of the vital organs, including the liver, heart and pancreas.
Additionally, Oklahoma state law states that a first-time offender who is charged with drinking and driving can be fined up to $1,000, a hefty amount for individuals who are typically juggling many other expenses.
Howard said some college students may turn to alcohol as a way to self-medicate due to many different factors including social anxiety and stress.
For anyone seeking support as they try to escape alcohol addiction, Student Support Services offers morning and evening counseling appointments, Howard said.
In addition to counseling, she said, the Student Support Services website offers a mental health screening that may help those struggling with abuse realize that they should seek help.
“Being able to come and talk to somebody, being able to admit ‘Hey, I think I have a problem,’ is the first step to getting help,” Howard said.
She said, in addition to providing short-term support for individuals, OCCC counselors can help people set up long-term support in community groups like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Long-term support, Howard said, is key to ending alcohol dependency.
For more information, call Howard at 405-682-1611, ext. 7621, or visit the website at www.occc.edu/support.