Mid August marks the time of year when high school graduates prepare to enter their freshman year of college, with many leaving home for the first time. With all the responsibilities and stressors that come with adjusting to both the social pressures and expectations of college life, it’s not uncommon for some freshmen, as well as upper classmen, to participate in potentially dangerous behavior throughout their college years.
The NJ Poison Experts would like to call attention to a few concerns facing incoming freshmen
• Binge Drinking (Chugging): Although underage drinking is illegal and therefore not endorsed by poison center experts, we know it happens on college campuses across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines it as men drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks within a short period of time or women drinking 4 or more drinks within a short period of time. The chance of getting sick and dying from alcohol related health problems increases significantly for those who binge drink.
For those students of legal drinking age who choose to drink alcohol, do so responsibly. Keep your eye on your drink at all times to protect yourself from having a date-rape drug dropped into your drink without your knowledge.
• Misuse of Drugs as Study Aids: “Study drugs” are drugs such as prescription medicines for ADHD and OTC energy producing supplements and coffee or caffeine, that are misused/abused to help a student stay awake and study. Students often believe that these drugs enhance or focus concentration and increase stamina when they cram for tests or write lengthy papers.
Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of unintentional poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.
• Caffeine: Historically, this has been limited to drinking multiple cups of coffee or tea to help students through all-nighters. The dose is increased considerably, however, by taking caffeine pills or consuming multiple energy drinks. Pure caffeine is a powerful stimulant, therefore, even a small amount of it can cause a fatal overdose due to the product being nearly 100 percent pure caffeine.
• Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a serious concern once the weather begins to get colder. If living off campus in an apartment or home, be sure there are working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed; change the batteries twice a year.
If someone is unconscious, not breathing, seizing/convulsing, bleeding profusely, difficult to arouse/wake up, etc. call 911 immediately, otherwise call the NJ Poison Experts at (1-800-222-1222). Help is always available – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Students should program the Poison Help line into their cell phones.
New Jersey Poison Control Center