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Archive for Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lawrence Memorial Hospital reporting dramatic increase in alcohol poisoning cases in Lawrence

Trend is for a sharp increase over the past three years

The number of alcohol abuse cases seen at Lawrence Memorial Hospital has been on the rise the last few years. Doctors. Alcohol awareness programs and policies have been a little more aggressive since the alcohol-related deaths of two KU students in 2009.

January 19, 2010

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LMH statistics

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.”

Comments

Bud Stagg 4 years, 11 months ago

If they would let them start drinking beer when they were 18, they wouldn't have to hide and binge drink. They would learn to drink in a bar, like I did. My fellow patrons and bartenders looked out for each other. Also if they drink beer, they tend not to get slammed as quick and therefore have a little more control.

Parents should also expose their kids to alchol after age 16 so they can "practice" under supervision. I let my 17 drink a little here and there, but not to excess. When she goes off to college, hopefully she will have some experience in this area.

The drinking age at 21 has created a bunch of imature 21 year olds and probably has not made that much of a difference in drunk driving. Educating the public has done more.

conservative 4 years, 11 months ago

Under what authority is the university informing the parents of the actions of adults. some of the students are reliant still upon mom and dad but many are there on grants, scholarships, and loans that do not involve the parents. I could understand notifying the police of illegal behavior. Do they call the parents also if they skip class or stay out late?

ModerateOne 4 years, 11 months ago

If they are adults then why can't they drink alcohol? Call your Congressperson.

Randall Barnes 4 years, 11 months ago

WELL I AM STILL THE SAME WAY IF YOU TELL ME THAT I CAN'T DO SOMETHING, WELL THEN IM GOING TO DO IT EVEN MORE.JUST LIKE TELLING A TEENAGER THEY CAN,T HAVE SEX,THEY ARE GOING TO ANYWAY.

d_prowess 4 years, 11 months ago

I wonder if the increase in numbers being treated at LMH is actually the result of an increase in behavior or an increase in seeking treatment.
We all have seen the stories about how kids are dependent on their parents longer and are friends with their parents more. So what is to say that an upbringing like that won't result in students being more willing to go to the hospital for help compared to trying to deal with it on their own. And not saying kids shouldn't be going to the hospital at times of excessive drinking, but I wonder if a number of students weren't as comfortable going there in the past and thus the increase in numbers.
And let me stop being so PC and just say it, is some of this increase due to kids being less independent and being bigger babies than in the past?!

d_prowess 4 years, 11 months ago

Or perhaps educating students on the dangers of drinking hasn't curbed drinking, but it has made students take the effects of it more seriously and thus are taking their friends to the hospital because they don't want them to die. If this is the case, the education programs haven't been a success, but still may have had some positive outcomes.

gccs14r 4 years, 11 months ago

How many are regular customers of LMH? 1700 cases doesn't mean 1700 different people.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 4 years, 11 months ago

"If they would let them start drinking beer when they were 18, they wouldn't have to hide and binge drink."

What a rediculous statement. I was around for the lower drinking age, and was in college when the law changed. It did a lot to reduce the culture of drinking on campus (greek housing being the exception). Kids are not drinking more because no one is "watching out" for them. They are drinking more because as a culture we are more and more accepting of addictions and addictive habits.

funkdog1 4 years, 11 months ago

I wonder how many of the KU kids being admitted to LMH for alcohol poisoning are in the Greek system?

alm77 4 years, 11 months ago

d_prowess - I think you nailed it. When I was a kid we never in a million years would have imagined taking someone who passed out to the hospital and I would have no idea what the signs of poisoning were in those days.

stlcards515 4 years, 11 months ago

"“If they would let them start drinking beer when they were 18, they wouldn't have to hide and binge drink.”

What a rediculous statement. I was around for the lower drinking age, and was in college when the law changed. "

No it actually is a good statement. Students under the age of 21 go to bars like Abe and Jake's because they are 18+. They can't drink there so they get COMPLETELY HAMMERED before they go at 10 so they will still be drunk at 2am when they leave. It's not at all healthy to drink 4 hours worth of drunkenness in a half hour to an hour. Not that any drunkenness is healthy. If people could drink at 18 they would be able to go to the bar and drink there and space out the alcohol and work up their buzz to 2 am rather than binging.

Furthermore I'd like to point out that the college age population makes up a quarter of the people going to LMH due to alcohol related incidents. Although high, that leaves 75% to a group that should be past the partying and alcohol poisoning phase. To maybe it's not just the University but the city also...

notjustastudent 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm with d_prowess- it seems like a good sign rather than a bad one. I know I can't tell when someone's had too much versus way too much, so I think it probably means more are seeking help. I disagree that the alcohol education isn't a success- you can aim for 100% success but it's never going to happen, so the real success is any success at all, and I think that may be happening. I'd like to know how many of them are brought in a second time- after the embarassment and the bills generated after the first hospital visit, they may be more responsible...

Danimal 4 years, 11 months ago

We have some very unhealthy attitudes towards drinking in this country that are the root of this problem. We need to stop presenting alcoholism as sexy or attractive to children and young adults. That being said, I like to tie one on as much as the next guy, but there are limits people should know not to stray beyond. There's nothing more annoying than these spoiled lushes that go to KU.

flyin_squirrel 4 years, 11 months ago

Until we start letting parents teach their kids how to drink, rather than a kids peers, we will continue to have this problem (and the 21 drinking age another factor). Anyone who thinks the binge drinking is not a direct result of the drinking age doesn't understand the problem. Increased policing of underage drinks in the bars only increases the problems, because students will slam drinks/shots to avoid getting caught.

Sunflower1985 4 years, 11 months ago

It's "rite of passage" not "right of passage."

Eride 4 years, 11 months ago

Why are adults being treated like children? Citizens of this country who are 18 years or older are held to be of age of majority for basically every possible activity other than gambling and drinking.

I thought there was supposed to be some kind of so-called separation of church and state? Why is some person's version of morality being used to restrict the rights of someone else?

Maybe if the citizens of this country weren't being treated like incompetent monkeys their entire lives they would be able to handle the occasional drink without government restricting it.

parrothead8 4 years, 11 months ago

Eride (Anonymous) says… I thought there was supposed to be some kind of so-called separation of church and state? Why is some person's version of morality being used to restrict the rights of someone else?

I agree with your sentiment, but disagree with your statement. The separation of church and state is not a law, unless you look at the First Amendment, which states that the government should not establish a national religion and should not prohibit people from practicing their religion. However, there is nothing in the First Amendment about whether or not we can impose morals - whomever's they may be - upon our law-making process.

All laws are "some person's version of morality," as you say. We can't simply deride a law as "someone else's morality," because laws are created by due process, by elected officials that WE elect.

That being said, I think the drinking age at 21 is ridiculous. Kids learn how to drink for the first time AFTER moving out of their parents' homes, and that's not right. Kids should be learning this from their parents.

Years ago, I spent three months living in Italy, and most of the kids I met told me they'd had wine with their meals since they were 6, 7, 8 years old. They'd started with sips, and eventually their parents let them have full glasses in their early teen years. Now that they were 18, 19, 20? Alcohol was nothing special to them. They might get drunk sometimes, on special occasions, but alcohol itself was not an occasion to them.

redmoonrising 4 years, 11 months ago

Okay, call me stupid, but I still can't figure out why people need alcohol in the first place. Life isn't always rosy but drinking sure doesn't make it better. It's like we can't be social in this country without adding alcohol to the mix. No, I'm not a religious nut either, I just don't find the need for alcohol or drugs to make my life tolerable. Some posters here seem to think their lives aren't complete without one or the other....or both. Sad.

emptymind 4 years, 11 months ago

oh demon alcohol sad memories I can't recall who thought I would fall prey to demon alcohol

from the Kinks Ray Davies

Stuart Evans 4 years, 11 months ago

I actually had a debate last night as to whether alcohol was safer than cannabis. In fact, the individual would not even accept the fact that alcohol is the 2nd most deadly drug, only behind cigarettes. and, that person wouldn't actually admit that alcohol is in fact a drug. This pervasive attitude inundates our society, regardless of how wrong it is. America = alcohol and be damned if you try and change that.
so go on alcohol, keep killing 50,000-85,000 people per year with your slick advertising and multi-million dollar lobbyists.

http://www.saferchoice.org/

notjustastudent 4 years, 11 months ago

I have to disagree about drinking at home. Parents will be parents, and cut them off before the point where they've had too much, and some kids (the same kids who push their limits in anything and everything) will resent this. The first chance they get, they'll drink too much and end up in the hospital. So personal responsibility really is the key, and sometimes you can't teach that no matter how hard you try...

dethinferno 4 years, 11 months ago

There are many reasons and excuses form when it is time to give blame for underage drinking, but the problem is not caused by one factor alone ie parent's lack of parenting, peer pressure, media (actors and actresses drinking in the movies and shows), and the availability of alcohol these days is shocking. Then, WHO IS TO BLAME, it boils down to that KIDS responsibility, only him/her can make that decision to drink. If he/she ends up in the hospital for any alcohol related incident, there's no one to blame but HIMSELF/HERSELF.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

conservative,

That's a good point.

If the University really wanted to deal effectively with this situation, they would notify police of underage drinking and let the students deal with the consequences of that.

swku 4 years, 11 months ago

I think the rise in alcohol related incidents could also be affected by the increase in enrollment at KU in the last couple of years. College students really have to take responsibility for their actions. They are legally adults and they need to step up to the plate and take the blame for their carelessness.

spiff 4 years, 11 months ago

"Patients between the ages of 18 and 24 make up about a quarter of the hospital’s alcohol cases"

This is what grabs my attention.

irnmadn88 4 years, 11 months ago

Did anyone bother to ask what these kids were drinking? Dollars to donuts, a significant percentage could be attributed to mixing alcohol and energy drinks.

These energy drinks hit the market several years ago while the current college binge drinking demographic were just entering high school. The increase in alcohol poisoning also coincides with the increase in the so-called energy drink sales... Stands to reason that once these kids are on their own, adding alcohol to the energy drink would not be a far leap.

Mixing alcohol with these energy drinks (read stimulant) only delays the alcohol effect on the body... when the stimulant wears off, the body is left to process the alcohol all at once.

Eride 4 years, 11 months ago

"“Patients between the ages of 18 and 24 make up about a quarter of the hospital’s alcohol cases”

This is what grabs my attention."

Don't KU students make up a quarter of this town's population...? Assuming majority of them are in that age range... Then assume there are more residents in this age range not going to KU... Seems like the KU student body would be right in line with the rest of the town's population for the percent of hospital alcohol cases.

flyin_squirrel 4 years, 11 months ago

I agree that energy drinks could be contributing to the problem. Also, the increase in education about alcohol poisoning is problably causing more people to take their peers to the hospital. When I was in school, if you passed out, everyone just let you sleep it off.

Belinda Rehmer 4 years, 11 months ago

This story says college alcohol abuse makes up 1/4 of the overall abuse issue!!! Am I the only one that read/heard that? So what about the other 3/4? And by the way, only 1/2 of the 18 - 24 yr olds are under age, so why are we dwelling on underage drinkers? This is NOT a story about normal alcohol consumption. It is a story about ABUSE! But the writer only focused on a small portion of the offenders to fit his predetermined story line. Where is the story about the 1,333 cases of alcohol abuse that do NOT fall into the 18-24 age group? I would like to see the story that addresses the prevalence of alcohol abuse in our society. The public acceptance and even persistence of “if you are not drinking to excess you are not able to enjoy yourself”. The story about the percentage of these cases that LEAD you down the path to violence, repeated job loss, divorce, homelessness the overall life messes alcohol abuse causes. Let's stop pointing fingers at the tip of the iceberg and start looking at the root of the problem. The definition of complaining is

Romans832 4 years, 11 months ago

Redmoonrising, I won't call you stupid, because I agree with you! Otherwise, I guess we're both "stupid." Thanks for pointing out that life can be complete without being under a drug-induced stupor.

spiff 4 years, 11 months ago

"Don't KU students make up a quarter of this town's population…? Assuming majority of them are in that age range… Then assume there are more residents in this age range not going to KU… Seems like the KU student body would be right in line with the rest of the town's population for the percent of hospital alcohol cases."

Exactly. Look past the sensationalizing. The "problem" is spread evenly across demographics.

lounger 4 years, 11 months ago

Legalize Marijuana and I promise these number will fall...

Eride 4 years, 11 months ago

Maybe the editor would like to comment when a more factually accurate and less biased story on this subject will be published?

shotgun 4 years, 11 months ago

I am curious.......why will people magically quit drinking alcohol if pot is legalized or they smoke pot? Doesn't pot make you thirsty?

A still shot of the Co-Ed in the hospital would make a good PSA................"Welcome to the glamorous world of drinking" or how about "My Girlfriend, she is hot, when shes not drinking"

shotgun 4 years, 11 months ago

Oh yeah, lowering the drinking age did not help me. When Illinois and Kansas both had the 18 year old drinking law, I managed to get into bars in E. St Louis and KCK at the age of 17.

parrothead8 4 years, 11 months ago

shotgun (Anonymous) says… I am curious…….why will people magically quit drinking alcohol if pot is legalized or they smoke pot? Doesn't pot make you thirsty?

When you're high, you don't get thirsty so much as you get hungry. The munchies, man. And cold water usually tastes way better than beer.

I mean, that's just what I've heard, anyway.

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