Alcohol-related cases at Lawrence Memorial Hospital (total/ages 18-24):
2007 1,285 316
2008 1,527 354
2009 1,734 401
College students are being admitted to Lawrence Memorial Hospital with complications from alcohol at a rate that’s increasing more than 10 percent per year, according to hospital data.
“Youngsters like this think they’re bulletproof,” said Paul Loney, doctor of emergency medicine at LMH. “Drinking in college is felt to be … one of these rites of passage.”
The number of alcohol-related cases at the hospital has increased 35 percent during the last three years, from 1,285 cases in 2007 to 1,734 cases in 2009.
Patients between the ages of 18 and 24 make up about a quarter of the hospital’s alcohol cases, which include everything from alcohol poisonings to alcohol-related trips and falls, and other severe impairment, as well as injuries generated by the use of alcohol.
Last year, 401 college-aged individuals were admitted to the hospital with these symptoms.
“These data clearly corroborate the other data points that indicate abusive alcohol consumption in the Lawrence community continues to increase,” said Marlesa Roney, KU’s vice provost of student success. “Although not all 18- to 24-year-old patients are KU students, it is likely that many are.”
KU officials have been working to battle the problems of alcohol among the student body, efforts which were increased after the deaths of two students in alcohol-related events last school year.
At the beginning of this school year, KU officials required all incoming students under the age of 22 to take an online alcohol evaluation course and they’ve started notifying parents when underage students are caught with alcohol more than once.
Dr. Loney said he doesn’t see a lack of education as being the problem, as college students are bombarded by public service messages and told repeatedly on campus about the dangers of binge drinking. He said students have nobody to blame but themselves.
“It’s not an easy solution, I think it comes down to personal responsibility and some people are just better at that than others,” said Loney. “Go with someone who can protect you from getting yourself in a situation where you’re getting yourself into harm’s way.”