Sep 042003
Authors: James Baetke

Considered by some to be a necessity in college, alcohol has always made its mark on society, but some may ask where the line is drawn between a weekend partier and an alcoholic.

“An alcoholic is someone who might be seeking out and consuming alcohol in an abnormal way,” said Pam McCracken, the director for the CSU Center for Drug and Alcohol Education.

McCracken believes that some students entering a collegiate atmosphere begin to consume alcohol, leading them in a potentially dangerous path. McCracken also says alcoholics are present on campus. National statistics show one in every 10 Americans live with the disease.

The center she works at deals with a wide variety of alcohol- and drug-related issues, including alcohol classes, lectures and counseling. Between August 2002 and May 2003, 1,173 CSU students took advantage of the center’s services.

McCracken said factors leading to the consumption of alcohol by students include media influences, misconceptions about partying and the fact students are away from the rules of home.

Lyniece Tistel, a mother and recovering alcoholic, said she discovered she was an alcoholic by the way she began to act abnormally. Tistel is now working and volunteering and has been sober for nine months.

“Alcoholism comes from selfishness and being unable to deal with life and the peer pressure to drink,” said 48-year-old Tistel, who started to heavily drink at 35.

The turning point for Tistel was when she woke one morning and looked at her “miserable” self in the mirror and said, “God I hate me.” She said she fell to the ground, sobbing and clutching her hair, realizing alcohol could no longer be her “release in life.”

“Becoming sober was not difficult because I was ready to get well,” she said. “I had to realize that I was out of control.”

According to the Narcotic Educational Foundation of America, alcohol is the oldest and most popular legal drug in society today.

Over a student’s typical four-year stay in college, research shows there is no difference between the way a student consumes alcohol and the way someone at risk of developing alcoholism drinks.

Students who drink three to four times per day over a long period of time would become dependent on alcohol and those with a family history of the disease are at an even higher risk, McCracken said.

Living her new life of sobriety, Tistel is thankful for every day and said she wishes she had never began drinking so heavily. Students who drink consistently through college may find it hard to stop once they begin new lives out of school. However, Tistel believes life is too glorious to just throw away.

“I think I’m going to stick around for tomorrow, just out of curiosity,” Tistel said.

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