Flagstaff is a college town, and students can often be found at parties on the weekend. Parties can be great social events for some students, but safety should always come first.
Freshman Adam Kim does not have much experience with drunk friends, but he does with family members. He said his aunts and uncles are usually the ones getting drunk. However, one of Kim’s friends did have a little too much to drink during Homecoming weekend.
“My friend wanted to hang out with some girls down the hall while he was drunk, so I reminded him that he had a girlfriend and kept an eye on him for the rest of the night,” Kim said. “If he had started throwing up, I probably would have taken a page out of my friend’s book and laid him down in the bathtub facing the drain so that the vomit would have somewhere to go.”
Kim said people should avoid alcohol completely whenever they feel down.
“Getting drunk when you’re sad is not a good experience,” Kim said. “Drinking with the boys when you’re sad is even worse.”
All first-year and transfer students are required to complete an alcohol safety and awareness program at the beginning of each semester. This online course aims to prepare students for college drinking experiences, regardless of whether they plan to drink or not. Students are taught to recognize the warning signs of alcohol poisoning and know when to trade alcohol for water, as well as how much alcohol is in a standard drink. The course also covers common myths and misconceptions about alcohol.
Freshman Devin O’Neal completed his alcohol course earlier this semester. Although he is not a drinker, O’Neal said he found the course helpful.
“The alcohol training was really time-consuming, but I got a lot of information from it,” O’Neal said.
For some students, alcohol training is nothing more than a review. This was especially true for freshman James Novak, who was taught how to take care of drunk people at a young age. Novak said his house was a popular destination for parties hosted by his older brother, so he grew up around heavy drinkers.
Novak said drinking behaviors are typically influenced by people’s childhoods, where they grew up and if they were raised around partying. He grew up in a small town, so he had a tight-knit group of friends.
“There was this unspoken code among our friend group that if anyone went too far, we would take care of them,” Novak said. “We would always get people food, water or whatever else they needed.”
This code differs from group to group. Novak said some people believe it is every one for themselves when it comes to drinking. He said these people believe, if someone drinks too much, it is their own responsibility to take care of themself. Novak said he does not respect this viewpoint, because friends should take care of each other.
Novak said the key to taking care of drunk friends is to be there when they need it. Water, sleep or something to throw up in are all useful when drinking too much. If a friend seems to have gone too far, Novak never hesitates to take them to the hospital. He said their lives are always more important than whatever other trouble they might get into.
When going out to drink, Novak said it is always good to have someone trustworthy around and to know personal limits.
Resident Assistants (RA) are trained to promote student safety, especially when it involves alcohol. Junior Sarah Jones was an RA over the summer and said students’ safety is always the first priority in any situation.
“RAs are not there to punish people so much as to make sure they are being safe,” Jones said.
Over the summer. there is a more diverse campus population, with children and international groups joining the regular summer students. Consequently, RAs for the summer semester are given more broad training than those in the regular semester.
Jones said she was taught to always bring someone with her when getting involved in potentially dangerous situations, so she would not have to make decisions alone. She was also taught to call NAU Police Department if she ever felt like she needed outside help.
Students can call 911, 928-523-3000 for emergency services or 928-523-3611 for non-emergencies. Health Promotion also offers substance abuse support for those who need it.
Remember, it is OK to party, just stay safe while doing it.