EMeRG sees increase in alcohol-related cases

Correction Appended

The number of freshman students transported to the GW Hospital for alcohol intoxication grew 10 percent this year compared to the 2008-2009 academic year, a University administrator said in June, but the increase coincides with a larger freshman class.

Tara Pereira, assistant dean of students and director of Student Judicial Services, said although the number of students transported to the hospital for alcohol intoxication rose, so did the number of students who called for help when a friend was overly intoxicated. That number rose 12 percent this year, Pereira said.

Of the students transported to GW Hospital as a result of alcohol consumption this year, nearly two thirds – or 59 percent – were freshmen. In the 2008-2009 academic year, 49 percent of those transported to the hospital for alcohol intoxication were freshmen.

“I lived in Madison which is usually a quiet dorm, but I noticed a lot of students getting EMeRGed,” rising sophomore Megan Mansfield said.

Dr. Isabel Goldenberg, medical director of the Student Health Service, said she advises students to seek medical attention because the consequences of skipping treatment can have serious repercussions, including death.

In 2009, sophomore Laura Treanor died of acute alcohol intoxication, the medical term for alcohol poisoning.

GW’s Center for Alcohol and Drug Education is working to implement a new program called “Be Wiser” in an effort to educate students, parents, faculty, and staff on drinking responsibly and avoiding binge drinking, Pereira said. The campaign has developed a pledge that will be available to incoming freshmen and parents at Colonial Inaugration.

Signers of the “Be Wiser” pledge promise to drink moderately if at all, remain hydrated, eat first, and not mix substances like drugs or medication with alcohol. Each of these activities can help mitigate risk.

According to the pledge, drinkers should also watch out for overdoses among friends. Unconsciousness, vomiting while not fully conscious, slower breathing, and hypothermia could all be signs of overconsumption.

Pereira said she hopes the pledge program will encourage students to “be wiser” while partying, because “their decisions impact not only themselves, but also the greater GW and District of Columbia communities,” Pereira said.

This article was corrected on June 16, 2010 to reflect the following changes:

The Hatchet erroneously reported that the number of students transported to the hospital for alcohol intoxication grew 10 percent this year. The number of freshmen transported actually increased 10 percent.

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