Alcohol-related hospital visits increase in Tempe

Along with an increase of police working with the alcohol-related task force in Tempe, there has been an increase in alcohol-related hospital visits that pose serious health risks to young adults and students at ASU, according to hospital employees.

Florence Premeau, emergency department manager at Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital, said there was an increase in visits since the beginning of August.

“I know that weekends, (especially) football weekends, the alcohol-related ER visits dramatically increase,” she said.

Alcohol is an impairment drug, and it puts people at risk of blackouts, liver damage, unintentional injuries, alcohol poisoning, dehydration and brain damage, Premeau said.

According to statistics on TempeCoalition.org, 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die nationally each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.

“You don’t have to be an alcoholic to still have liver impairment,” Premeau said.

Binge drinking — the consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time, is equally unhealthy for the body as drinking daily.

Approximately 42 percent of college students are frequent weekly binge drinkers, according to statistics on TempeCoalition.org.

“(They’d say), ‘I don’t drink every day; I’m not an alcoholic,’” Premeau said. “Well even if you binge drink every weekend, that still impairs your liver and its ability to filter out the normal toxins in the body.”

Special education junior Mikaela Novitsky said she thinks students are unaware of the dangerous effects alcohol has on the body and believes incorporating educational seminars for students who drink will be beneficial.

ASU students who consume alcohol potentially overlook the current and future health risks of drinking because they are more concerned about avoiding trouble with Tempe and ASU police, Novitsky said.

“People really don’t consider how drinking affects their bodies,” she said. “They are more concerned about staying out of trouble than keeping their bodies healthy. It’s sad, really.”

Students who do choose to consume alcohol should remember to eat a good portion that day and stay hydrated to avoid possible alcohol poisoning, Premeau said.

“If you’re going to drink, you need to have something in your body,” Premeau said. “All that alcohol goes straight to your head and increases the risk for blackouts.”

Drinking water in between every alcoholic drink and only consuming one alcoholic beverage an hour will help avoid alcohol-related sickness, she said.

The safest way for students to completely avoid alcohol-related health risks is to not consume alcohol, which can be difficult because of peer pressure, Premeau said.

Communications junior Tommy Groff said peer pressure plays a major part in student drinking.

“It is hard to say no to drinking when your friends are doing it and they seem to be having a good time, but there are nights people shouldn’t chose to drink,” Groff said.

Moderation and knowing limits are important to avoid possible health risks related to the consumption of alcohol, Premeau said.

ASU offers confidential, personal counseling and crisis services to any students who would like to get help with a possible alcohol addiction. The counseling office is located in the Student Services building at the Tempe campus on the third floor and is open for walk-ins Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Reach the reporter at acataruz@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @AleksCatz