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Action Project Issue, February 2017
THE PARTY HASN’T STOPPED
Drugs, alcohol and sobriety on campus
KATIE SCHEIDT/THE DAILY CARDINAL
“…the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”
Action Project Issue, February 2017
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Drugs, alcohol and sobriety The Daily Cardinal looks at the impact of UW-Madison’s party-school status BY THEDA BERRY AND NEGASSI TESFAMICHAEL management team Drug and alcohol use on campus came more prominently into focus when The Princeton Review ranked UW-Madison as the nation’s top party school again. Many students likely celebrated with a party, falling into this newly affirmed culture. A stereotypical college experience is full of drinking and using, but generalizations like these don’t define the entirety of our campus community. The context that led to this
No. 1 ranking, and its impact on students, is what interests us as we embark on the first installment of the 2017 Action Projects. This three-part series, which first began in 2014, has been an opportunity for The Daily Cardinal to provide a more in-depth look at issues surrounding UW-Madison. In this Action Project, we aim to understand how everyone—students, faculty, administrators, police, etc.—interact with drugs, alcohol and sobriety. UW-Madison’s location within a state notorious for binge drinking and with an increasing opi-
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Do you have thoughts on drugs, alcohol and sobriety on campus? How about UW-Madison’s party ranking? Is there an issue related to party culture on campus we missed? We want to hear what you think. Please send all comments and concerns to Theda and Negassi at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our second and third installments of this series will come in March and April, respectively. This issue will be on stands all week. If you’re looking for our daily coverage, check out dailycardinal.com and stay up to date.
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oid epidemic complicates these interactions in nuanced ways. For students in recovery, the prevalence of drugs and alcohol in Madison creates a further strain on their college experience. This minority of students who are sober may view our party ranking as an additional hurdle, rather than an accolade. We encourage readers to reflect on their own experiences with drug and alcohol use as they explore this first installment of the Action Project in print and in our online coverage. Join the conversation.
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UHS provides services to combat substance abuse. HAE RIN LEE opinion columnist
remember my first time in Wisconsin, when I was surprised to discover something different about the grocery store. When I found an aisle solely dedicated to liquor, I was genuinely surprised, as I had never seen such a thing back home. It was that moment when I realized Wisconsin is very different from where I come from. Unfortunately, it seems to possess a very universal problem across college campuses throughout this nation—substance abuse. According to OnWisconsin, almost a quarter of college students nationwide meet the medical criteria for substance abuse or dependence, but 37 percent of them fear seeking help because of social stigma. It is said that 40 percent of student attrition cases involve substance abuse, resulting in $1.2 million to $4.3 million in lost tuition each year according to the National Center
on Addiction and Substance Abuse. On our campus, the Color of Drinking survey, a 2015 study investigating the impacts of campus drinking culture on undergraduate students of color, stated that 65 percent of respondents were negatively impacted by UW-Madison’s drinking culture. As prevalent as substance dependence is, so are the efforts by campuses to counteract it. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 43 percent of students who are in recovery from an addiction chose to attend their school because of its recovery program. The Substance Abuse Prevention Program offered by University Health Services provides many services to students, such as walk-in appointments for counseling and consultation services, as well as 24-hour crisis intervention programs, psychotherapy programs and relationship support. Also, all freshmen and transfer students are required to complete AlcoholEdu. According to the 2015-2016
UHS report, UHS used 12 percent of its funding for substance abuse prevention efforts. In addition to UHS resources, the University offers a comprehensive list of substance abuse support programs and student organizations that specialize in helping students on the path to recovery. Additionally, programs such as The First 45 Days Initiative, a program headed by UWPD, UHS and UW Housing, lead to greater awareness of the negative consequences of alcohol use. There is no shortage of preventative and support efforts by UHS and other campus services in order to help students avoid and overcome substance abuse. But has there been any progress? According to the 2016 Annual Security Report from UWPD, the number of disciplinary referrals for liquor law violations on campus property decreased from 2,639 in 2014 to 1,983 in 2015. That is a 25 percent decrease in one year. Also, the social stigma of seeking support from community seems to be fading, as UHS saw an 11 percent increase in clients for substance abuse services between 2014 and 2015. Overall, UHS and community efforts have yielded wonderful progress helping students lift up from the depression of substance abuse. Based on its current success, it could change the lives of many more students on campus. However, despite staggering progress, there is more work to be done. Some interpreted the Color of Drinking Survey data to suggest that there is a presence of exclusion and negative consequences from the predominantly white drinking culture. It could also be a good idea to collaborate health services
efforts with the ethnic or cultural minority groups on campus to create a deeper program addressing not only health consequences, but a deeper social cause for drinking and substance abuse. Such a program would bring people together and create a forum for discussion about the drinking culture here in Madison. We will never understand each other or our differences if we can’t talk and communicate in an open space. There are many reasons why students may fall into the routine of substance abuse; mental, physical, emotional, social, or economic problems are some to name a few. By creating a judgment-free, open space for students to talk with one another about the troubles they are facing, maybe we as a campus could prevent our fellow students from falling into such toxic habits. Just by knowing you’re not alone and that there are other students going through the same troubles, students with substance abuse issues will feel empowered to find their path to recovery. If we understand the cause, we can create more corresponding studies and efforts to personalize the issues to each individual’s need. The substance abuse has been a big issue in the campus, but I believe in the possibility that we can all help each other to overcome this stigma and make such tragedy into an opportunity to step forward. Hae Rin is a junior majoring in history. What are your thoughts on substance abuse services on campus? Should we continue to focus on medical services, or intertwine them with social services? Please send all questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through hip-hop, CRASHprez explores sobriety and escapism By Logan Rude THE DAILY CARDINAL
When Michael Penn II was nine years old, he had his first sip of alcohol. Mistaking his father’s glass of Hennessy in the fridge for a glass of Coke, the young Penn confidently took a sip of the dark beverage. The moment it touched his lips, he realized the mistake he had made and spit it back into the glass. “I forget who was over at the time, but my dad started just laughing,” Penn said. “He was like, ‘Yeah, that’s what you get!’” That was 14 years ago. Now
or drinking in their art is essential to the overarching narrative. Escapism plays a central role in music and, many times, that escapism is glorified. Loads of artists neglect to illustrate the repercussions that come with diving into a pool full of liquor. “Is it important to tell those narratives or not hide who you are? Absolutely. If you’re being true to it, absolutely. There’s a very thin line between narrating your story and crossing the line and glorifying it,” Penn said. “My thing is, as a rapper, from a craft standpoint, if you’re gonna
and friends on multiple occasions, so he’s been exposed to the negative consequences. In Penn’s case, his habits give him the chance to tell people there are alternatives to excessive drinking and drug use. His main vice, unhealthy food, serves as a cathartic alternative to substances. “For all the drugged out s--t, super f--ked up s--t, where’s the alternative to that? Who’s gonna step up and put those messages out there?” Penn said. Since hip-hop’s inception in the Bronx, authenticity and storytelling have been major factors in the genre. KRS-One, Eric B. & Rakim and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five told their unique, elaborate tales of living in crime-ridden neighborhoods in order to spread the message and lessons from their struggles to the world.
“Humans love to find ways to destroy themselves. That’s fascinating to me.”
MORGAN WINSTON/CARDINAL FILE PHOTO
Penn is 23 and he hasn’t touched a drink since — an anomaly for someone so entrenched in hiphop culture. Rapping under the pseudonym CRASHprez, Penn, like many rappers, focuses on his unique perspective and experiences in his music. A big part of that experience is his choice to stay sober. “I’m at the point where people who are close to me, they know not to press me for that anymore,” Penn said. “I tell them, ‘If you see me with a drink, something’s f--king wrong.’” Vices come in many different forms—marijuana, alcohol, gambling—the list goes on and on. Music often plays a pivotal role in spreading the ideas of self-destruction and indulgence for the sake of escaping from our everyday problems. EDM and rave culture routinely glorify the use of MDMA. Countless indie rock groups praise the use of psychedelics and weed. Many hip-hop artists have developed flourishing careers by describing their excessive partying filled with booze, weed and lean. According to Penn, telling these stories is a double-edged sword. He says recognizing the reason people discuss drug use
talk about that drug s--t, give me both sides. Don’t just present it like everything is gonna be f--king alright.” Penn’s sobriety is a lifestyle choice; he doesn’t preach about the evils of alcohol and drugs because he doesn’t believe that it’s his place to act. Instead, his focus lies in acknowledging the forces that drive us to selfdestruction. Everyone has their own vices.
In the same vein, Penn’s narrative focuses on telling his story, no-holds-barred. His life is laid out on the table. Exploring the good, the bad and the unusual allows for a natural conversation to develop within the culture as a whole. Accepted or not, his perspectives are out there, ready to interact with the world. “The culture shifts. The drug shift is a time shift. The function of an MC was to rock a party from jump,” Penn said. “It’s not this. It’s not like, ‘I’m off xans. I’m off lean. I’m off this. I’m off that.’ That just evolved over time I suppose.
Action Project Issue, February 2017
MORGAN WINSTON/CARDINAL FILE PHOTO
Michael Penn II lives sober, defying hip-hop stigma. “I think me sharing my personal story is much more important than me trying to DARE ad people. I always look at rap today like it’s in dialogue with something. It’s always in dialogue with history. It’s in dialogue with each other.” Penn’s ideas on sharing his personal story translate flawlessly into the music of CRASHprez. His last full project, more perfect., is filled with references to previous projects from rappers who use music to tell their own stories like Kendrick Lamar and Pusha T. It’s his way to take messages, often drug related, and reinterpret them from his perspective. On “Pollo y Porno,” he twists ScHoolboy Q’s lyrics “Weed and brews / Weed and brews / Life for me is just weed and brews” into the bridge “porn and food / porn and food / life for me is just porn and food.” In a sense, Penn’s mission is to give people the information they need in order to make their own educated decisions. Whether it’s simply offering an alternative to the music focusing on drugs or if it’s addressing the issues associated with pornography and bad eating habits, CRASHprez continues to start new conversations that keep himself and his listeners growing as humans, no mat-
ter how flawed. “We’re just an infinite Google doc, and then this s--t just shuts down one day when we die. You’re just supposed to keep editing that motherf--ker. You’re not supposed to exit the window.”
“We’re just an infinite Google doc, and then this s--t just shuts down one day when we die. You’re just supposed to keep editing that motherf--ker. You’re not supposed to exit the window.” Hip-hop culture, to a certain degree, has grown to a point where excessive, self-destructive habits often outweigh the messages that some artists are trying to tell. Michael Penn’s sobriety is a testament that any artist, regardless of the current status quo, can create works of art that spark conversation among an audience in an attempt to bring new perspectives to the table.
“I always look at rap today like it’s in dialogue with something. It’s always in dialogue with history. It’s in dialogue with each other.” “Outside of what liquor or weed or pills or whatever the case may be, there’s always forms of escapism. I feel like that’s a very human thing. Humans love to find ways to destroy themselves. That’s fascinating to me.” Alcohol has been the cause of trouble and pain for his family
THOMAS YONASH/CARDINAL FILE PHOTO
CRASHprez performs at Freakfest on Halloween weekend in 2015.
Action Project Issue, February 2017
‘Wisconsin has always known how to have fun’: UW-Madison’s party culture Back in time: UW-Madison alumni remember a time before the legal drinking age changed from 18 to 21 By Nina Bertelsen THE DAILY CARDINAL
TOP THREE PHOTOS COURTESY OF UW-MADISON ARCHIVES, BOTTOM PHOTO BY LEAH VOSKUIL /THE DAILY CARDINAL
UW-Madison students in dress shirts held cups of beer and posed for a photo at a house party in the 1980s (top left). UW-Madison students, some shirtless, drank beer on a sunny day outside of Memorial Union in the 1980s (top right). A group of UW-Madison students gathered over a pitcher of beer in 1976 (middle right). UW-Madison students held drinks in solo cups and crowded balconies drapped in flags during a recent Mifflin Street Block Party.
Twelve out of the 20 “Drunkest Cities in America” as identified by 24/7 Wall Street’s are in Wisconsin and UW-Madison is the Princeton Review’s 2016 top party school. Needless to say, Wisconsin has a reputation. This is nothing new. In the 1980s, Wisconsin was the last state in the nation to raise their legal drinking age to 21. They did so only after former President Ronald Reagan threatened to pull funding for states that did not comply with the standard. Instead of taking AlcoholEdu and hiding alcohol from resident advisors, UW-Madison alumni could drink openly. “We went to bars a lot, I’ll admit,” Jackie Zondag a 1983 graduate, said . “I believe as a freshman we could have beer in our dorm rooms, there wasn’t any restrictions. I was just in Madison and talking to one of my old roommates and she thought you could even have kegs, believe it or not.” Zondag was the only girl from her Wisconsin high school to go to Madison, but said that it was easier to get into then than today. After living in the dorms her freshmen and sophomore years, Zondag said extracurriculars weren’t as prevalent. While resident advisors would plan events, students mostly went to bars together. She remembered the first toga party her freshman year in 1979, football games even before the team was good, and buck pitchers of beer at The Stone Hearth on Wednesdays. “I can’t remember it being a
big deal,” said Zondag of dorm policies. “It was more focused on drugs and smoking, I would say. Maybe the focus was more on that because drinking was legal.” While Zondag remembers a relaxed attitude, 1964 alumnae Judith Ward was a resident advisor and enforced a university policy of curfews for women. She said that as an RA, she did go through training but it was not nearly as comprehensive and many decisions fell to “dorm mothers”. Ward recalled a very active student life in organizations, social activism and dedication to studies. However, Ward added that even though she wasn’t in Greek life, “Wisconsin has always known how to have fun.The enthusiasm around sports and the ability to enjoy a party and beer has always been there. Fraternities had parties and there was always a lot of celebration around sports.” Both of Zondag’s children attend UW-Madison themselves and acknowledged their experience differs in some ways from her own. She noted that she thinks about what it would be like if the age went back to 18, she notes that she didn’t remember blood alcohol poisonings and hospitalizations happening to students back then. Zondag still keeps in touch with many of her college friends, and they and their children will get together and even visit “old haunts” when they’re in Madison. “Campus itself has changed a lot,” Zondag said. “But I’d say for the most part a lot of it’s the same. It’s still very comfortable.”
University takes action against party school reputation By Louisa de Vogel THE DAILY CARDINAL
For Sunny Singh, a senior at UW-Madison, the school’s party culture is hard to avoid. The social life on UW-Madison’s campus is synonymous with drug and alcohol use, to Singh. “The other day I was at a mixer for another org on campus, and … there was beer there and someone … just handed me a can, obviously out of courtesy, and they didn’t even ask me if I wanted it, or if i was okay with it,” Singh said. The Princeton Review ranked UW-Madison the nation’s top party school for 2017, a fact many students take pride in. Administration officials, however, proactively work to combat this characterization. University programs such as AlcoholEduhelp downplaythe perception of UW-Madison as a party school. AlcoholEdu, an educational module students must complete before beginning their freshman year—helps the university track data on student drinking patterns and the general culture of the school in regards to consumption.
“At the end of AlcoholEdu part one there’s a survey, so we’re able to collect data on our incoming students and then since it’s such a widely used product we’re able to compare ourselves to [other schools in] the Big Ten” Jenny Rabas, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Prevention coordinator for University Health Services, explained . Six weeks after finishing part one of AlcoholEdu, students receive another survey asking about their drinking patterns. This survey, which is administered about 45 days into the start of students’ first year on campus, allows the university to gather data on how the UW-Madison culture affects students drinking patterns. The data gathered from the AlcoholEdu surveys helped the university develop the First 45 Days Initiative, which aims to help students form healthy behaviors concerning alcohol. “They really want students early on to know that these are not the norms for this environment, no matter what you’ve heard, from any party school
ranking, or whatever, that might be the perception but that is not the reality” Rabas said. The university’s first line of defense to offset the “party school” image is the residence halls. According to Rabas, UW-Madison police are sent on dorm walk-throughs, with as many as six officers at a time, searching for any behavior contrary to campus housing policy. “I think it’s very dependant on where you live freshman year and who’s your floor or what the general vibe is,” Ben Sprengeler, a campus tour guide, said. Sprengeler, who lived in Sellery Hall his freshman year, believes the party scene is not hard to avoid. “Yes there is a party culture at Madison, but the party culture isn’t just a Madison thing, it’s a college-wide thing. You can choose to partake in those activities if you want to—because they do exist— but I personally have never felt pressured to do anything I don’t want to do,” Sprengeler said. Ellie Hutchison, a senior at Mount Horeb High-School and future UW-Madison student,
echoed his sentiment. “Just from what I’ve heard from the people I know who go to Madison I’m kind of confused as to how it was ranked the number one party school,” Hutchison said. The Princeton Review ranking, which is developed through a survey sent to students, affects UW-Madison’s reputation nationwide. “When individuals have guests, a lot of the time they think ‘oh now I’ve got to come to Wisconsin and party,’” Rabas said Visitors can create a ruckus, Rabas explained, and ‘that’s not what our students do; it’s just that this perception can hurt us.” According to Rabas, weekday drinking at UW-Madison is below the national average, and overall numbers for alcohol use on campus have gone down in the past year. “If someone surveyed you and asked, ‘do you go to a party school?’… there’s a good chance people would say yes, no matter what school they’re going to… We have no data to say that we’re actually doing any worse. We actually are showing numbers getting better,” Rabas said.
While UW-Madison may be ranked highly for its parties, not all UW-Madison students choose to partake in the campus culture. Singh, now a senior, works to support the campus community in combatting alcohol and drug abuse. As the outreach director for Live-Free, a UW-Madison student group helping students maintain a sober lifestyle, Singh said the party scene at UW-Madison is not problem across all college campuses, not just UW-Madison. UW-Madison faculty, staff and administration do what they can to fight the party school perception and provide alternatives to participating in the drinking culture. Hutchison cites these alternatives as a motive for enrolling in UW-Madison. Regardless of leisure activities and rankings, many students such as Hutchison choose UW-Madison because “it’s a really good atmosphere, with it being such a big school I know that there are a lot of great opportunities and a vast amount of things to explore and go into.”
dailycardinal.com Action Project Issue, February 2017
Substance talk in classrooms can alienate sober students Story by Sydney Widell At the No. 1 party school in the nation, encountering party culture around campus is not surprising outside of the classroom. But when references to drugs and alcohol leave basement house parties and surface in classroom discussion, some students say they promote high risk behavior, marginalize the experience of those who choose not to drink and challenge the image of the university.
“There’s no acknowledgement of the fact that there are people out there who can’t drink normally.” Carter Kaufman chair Live Free
In its Alcohol Statement, UHS writes that “changing the culture around high-risk drinking is a priority. We recognize that everyone plays a role in promoting an environment that supports responsible drinking.” But, according to Carter Kaufman, chair of recovery group Live Free, substances still find their way into classroom discussions where, for sober students like him, it is both uncomfortable and unavoidable. “It confuses me most of the time why it is even mentioned. I just don’t think that is the best thing to talk about in classrooms,” Kaufman said. While he does not remember specific times that alcohol was discussed inappropriately in the classroom, he added that party culture in general is not just irrelevant to academics, it also creates a hostile learning environment. “When there are jokes about not remembering what you did that weekend or blacking out, it makes me feel different than my fellow classmates, like I’m not normal,” Kaufman said. “It brings me back to the time when I was doing it, and all of the reasons why—the escape,
the coping. Then I look around my 100-plus person lecture and I know that there have got to be other people who feel the same way or have gone through something similar.” For other students, staying sober is a matter of religion and identity. Zahra Bashir, who refrains from substance because of her Muslim faith, has never encountered party culture in class but understands how it would make students like her feel unwelcome. “Thankfully, in the classroom setting, I’ve never felt uncomfortable. But [most] students do not know that the majority of other students don’t drink like that,” Bashir said. “But I would still want to feel safe no matter what in an academic setting.” Steven Cramer, vice provost for teaching and learning, agreed that the presence of substance in class should be treated with great sensitivity. “Certainly at a minimum, joking about alcohol use or making light of it as nothing is simply inaccurate and unfortunately contributes to this very light hearted attitude about alcohol when it’s really a fairly serious issue,” Cramer said. “That’s where there’s a communication gap within the general academic community. I don’t think there’s a general awareness of how serious this is.” Some professors also agree that party culture is a widespread problem on campus and that it has no place in the classroom. “Alcohol use on this campus is a problem because there are too many students who don’t use alcohol wisely. Most professors that I know will not bring it up,” Edwin Seibert, who is teaching Chemistry 103 this semester, said. According to Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs Prevention Coordinator Jenny Rabbas, thoughtless comments about alcohol in the classroom can contribute to wider feelings of alienation, which can translate to poor academic performance and a negative campus experience. “It can be really isolating
to feel like you don’t belong,” Rabbas said. “I think it’s important that we reframe the way we talk about alcohol in the classroom so that we’re not intentionally isolating people.” Students of color, who on average consume less alcohol than their peers, as well as students who are in recovery, are especially vulnerable to the type of disconnection Rabbas describes. However, students who choose to drink moderately or stay sober can be targeted by remarks that normalize drinking culture. “There’s no acknowledgement of the fact that there are people out there who can’t drink normally,” Kaufman said. “When people in a position of power make remarks on things that shouldn’t be normalized, those things become normalized. It makes me not want to go to class.” While UW-Madison’s first top party school title from The Princeton Review since 2005 may be new as of last fall, alcohol consumption on campus has actually trended down over the past five years, according to data collected by Division of Student Life programming. Cramer said that his office works constantly to promote a safer drinking culture and a more inclusive climate for students like Kaufman and Bashir.
“When there are jokes about not remembering what you did that weekend or blacking out, it makes me feel different from my fellow classmates, like I’m different.” Carter Kaufman chair Live Free
According to Kaufman, there is still a long way to go. “The first step is us talking to students and faculty,” he said. “We really do need to open up a conversation about stigmatizing language in the classroom. I think that a dialogue about drinking culture is important.”
ALICIA SHOBERG/CARDINAL FILE PHOTO
Some sober students said that it can be alienating when professors talk or joke about drinking and drugs during class. Carter Kaufman said this can be uncomfortable but unavoidable.
KATIE SCHEIDT/CARDINAL FILE PHOTO
Jake Prine, who participated in Choices and BASICS after he was caught drinking in his freshman dorm, said it was ineffective.
Choices about Alcohol aims to educate; some students claim through intimidation By Sammy Gibbons THE DAILY CARDINAL
UW-Madison students who violate university drinking policies do not have any choice but to take Choices about Alcohol, a two-session course that teaches students about the dangers of alcohol abuse. Choices about Alcohol—commonly referred to as Choices— requires students who have firstoffense violations relating to alcohol to take two 90-minute sessions facilitated by professional substance abuse counselors. Participants fill out worksheets, learn facts about substances and their risks and have open discussions about their behaviors with the group of no more than 12 other students. However, students who have participated in Choices have claimed it has no effect on their drinking habits. UW-Madison junior Jake Prine participated in the program his freshman year after he got caught drinking in his residence hall. He said Choices is not educational, but simply a way to scare students from drinking. “When it comes down to it I think that Choices is making first-year students uncomfortable in their home,” Prine said. “My personal view on college as an institution is to educate me and prepare me for the real world. Patronizing a student like that is just showing them to be scared of institutions and really not how to discover themselves as people.” Adelaide Fenton, a former House Fellow, said she documented students for alcohol violations because she was hired to do so. Choices was assigned to students on a case-bycase basis, so she was not aware who she would be sending to the program. She most frequently heard negative feedback from students who were required to participate in the program. Fenton said many felt as though the information was common sense, however, she said some students benefited from it. “For many people Choices is the first time they hear that information [about alcohol], or it clears up questions they had and were ner-
vous or embarrassed to ask,” Fenton said in an email. “Though maybe not a direct reaction to the program, I saw the positive effects of it while I interacted with students that I was documenting for alcohol violations.” If a student violates policy again after taking Choices, or has a more serious violation such as being taken to detox or an emergency room, they are required to take Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students. Students in the program attend two one-on-one sessions with a substance abuse counselor from either Connections Counseling or Tellurian UCAN, Inc. and evaluate their drinking behaviors. Another problem Prine had with the program was the cost. Participants in both Choices and BASICS must pay a $125 fee, in addition to any court-ordered fines. Prine said he researched financial aid options for the course and none were available. “College isn’t cheap, so tacking on that extra $125 to a freshman in college is not really something to occupy their time with,” Prine said. “But the options are take the class by this date or you can’t enroll, which is terrifying.” Fenton said while many students feel as though Choices and BASICS are pointless, they have benefits for some students and contribute to maintaining a safe environment in residence halls.
“The options are take the class or you can’t enroll, which is terrifying.” Jake Prine student UW-Madison
“When house fellows document incidents, the intention isn’t to get students in trouble or make them upset,” Fenton said. “We are there to ensure safety and help students make educated decisions about alcohol. Choices is just one way that Housing helps promote that.”
news 6 • Action Project Issue, February 2017
Tackling Wisconsin’s drinking problem Lacking university options, students in recovery look beyond campus for housing Story by Hannah Malone Carter Kofman was 20 years old when he had to put his education at UW-Madison on hold to get sober. After going into recovery in 2015, he returned to campus in the spring, aware living alone could be tough in a college environment. Determined to stay on track, Kofman joined Live Free, a wellness and recovery student organization, where he met fellow sober students and learned about recovery housing options near campus. “I latched on to people in a similar situation as me and we grew with the organization,” said Kofman. “That can help students feel like they have a community, that’s what I’ve found.” An anonymous student in recovery said when deciding to go back to school after getting sober, they were shocked to learn UW-Madison didn’t have more options for sobriety housing, such as those offered by Ohio State University and Texas Tech University. Recovering off-campus In May of 2015, Kofman moved into Aaron’s House, a recovery home founded by Tom Meyer in 2007 in honor of his late son, Aaron. The private sobriety house, located on 850 E. Gorham St., is set up under a peer support model, which Aaron suggested in 2005 after finding support and sobriety at an all-boys recovery home. AJ Ernst, Aaron’s House’s director of resident services, said the peer support model works because residents and mentors function like a real, healthy family. “If I ask someone how another is doing, I should expect them to have an answer,” Ernst said. “They need to pay attention to the behavior of each other in-depth and as a result there is responsibility and they bond with each other and develop sound relationships.” Aaron’s House is currently home to five people who attend college in the Madison area. According to Meyer, the house has been so successful in the 10 years since it opened that it has inspired other recovery houses to open for interested students. Built with a similar structure, Grace House is a recovery home specific to the needs of women. Erin Helm, Grace House’s director of resident services, said gender is a factor in how a person overcomes addiction, and therefore it is important to have gender-specific living. Grace House functions from a personal model of recovery, where recovery is centered around the individual’s needs and goals. Despite this, Helm does not think there are enough resources for students overcoming addiction at UW-Madison. “All universities need to keep work-
Law school data project seeks to limit extreme alcohol use across state
ing to provide recovery environments,” Helm said. ”Most don’t look at active addiction starting in college and they think recovery happens later in life.” Ginger Morgan, founder of Next Step recovery housing, currently home to four individuals living in a single apartment unit, at the Pres House apartments on UW-Madison’s campus, shares Helm’s views. “The university focuses its attention on the prevention of problematic behavior and developing healthy habits, but there isn’t enough on what can be done if something does go wrong,” Morgan said. Advocates say need for recovery housing is ‘obvious’ For 12 years, UW-Madison offered substance-free living in Sullivan and Kronshage residence halls. A portion of one floor in each building was dedicated to students interested in sober housing. UW-Madison stopped offering this option last fall. All three off-campus recovery housing options are filled mainly by students who attend UW-Madison or other Madison colleges. They are privately owned, costing between $630 and $680 per month, but program scholarships exist to help bring the price down. Although finances play a role in why sobriety housing no longer exists on campus, Morgan said more can be done by the university. “UW-Madison could provide structural support by having dedicated staff to support students in recovery housing, which is very different from substance-free housing,” Morgan said. “All [recovery] housing on campus right now is private, but I would still like to see the university step in as a strong partner with this.” Kofman, who is now co-chair of Live Free, is working on possible solutions to the lack of sobriety housing at UW-Madison. Live Free held a meeting Jan. 27 to discuss the potential of introducing a bill to the state legislature that requires certain four-year public universities to offer recovery housing. Associate Residence Life Director Larry Davis, who attended the meeting, said UW-Madison no longer offers substance-free living due to a lack of interest from students. “This is the first year we are not offering the substance-free community,” Davis said. “Last year we only had six students who said they were interested in living in that kind of community.” Despite the low numbers, Kofman, Ernst and Morgan expressed a desire to connect with Chancellor Rebecca Blank and other university leaders to discuss substance-free and recovery housing options for students. “The benefits of substance-free housing and recovery housing are pretty obvious,” Kofman said. “The next step is how this can move forward and it starts with people sharing their stories to faculty, staff and students.” AMILEAH SUTLIFF/THE DAILY CARDINAL
Aaron’s House is one of three substance-free housing options near UW-Madison’s campus.
UW-Madison senior who conducts research for the project. “So, if there are alcohol vendors that are over-serving, ideally we can present this data and help them by providing training. It’s an easy fix … it doesn’t The stern underage drinking post- cost any money to just say, ‘Hey, we see that ers that adorn residence halls and class- people are being overserved, you need to rooms bear a familiar message for students: work on that.’” Underage drinking is bad for your health, The project focuses much of its energy it’s bad for your grades and it’s illegal. While on examining the costs of excessive alcothese platitudes may be true, experts at the hol use, which is part of what Sherman UW-Madison Law School say such cam- says makes this research significant for all paigns don’t really work. Wisconsinites. According to a 2013 report, “Informational learnexcessive alcohol use costs ing doesn’t change Wisconsin more than behavior. We all know $6.8 billion each year, what happens when largely via hospital you don’t study or do and law enforcement your assignments,” expenses. Julia Sherman, “If we cut that lead coordicost, we cut hosnator of the pital costs. We law school’s cut police Wi s c o n s i n c o s t s , ” Alcohol Sherman Policy said. “We Project, cut all s a i d . kinds “A lot of costs. of camAnd that p a i g n s makes life early on easier for all kind of of us.” worked off the This data idea that if peocollected by the ple know better, project has not that will change only guided decitheir behavior. We sion-making, but know that’s not true also illuminated what now. We need to give a some of the problems little nudge of help.” in Wisconsin truly are. That nudge is the goal BESTY OSTERBERGER/CARDINAL FILE PHOTO Often, these results are of the project, which The Wisconsin Alcohol Policy contrary to common narSherman has helmed Project uses quantitative data ratives. Research has since its inception in 2010. to implement policies aimed at exposed, for example, Instead of using informa- curbing excessive alcohol use. that alcohol-related falls tion campaigns deemed kill far more people than fruitless, the project uses quantitative data alcohol-related car accidents. Data has also to implement evidence-based policies aimed shown that in the past decade Wisconsin’s at curbing excessive alcohol use. The pro- underage drinking rate has gone from the gram coordinates with municipalities, law nation’s highest to the national average. enforcement, public health agencies and “Senior citizens’ excessive alcohol use community leaders across Wisconsin. [is] increasing dramatically,” Sherman said. “Having lived in Wisconsin, I recognize “It’s more worrisome in many cases than that we have a lot of authority on the local underage drinking … People assume that level,” Sherman said. “We have the ability to college kids are the problem, right? In this improve our own alcohol environment, we case, it’s simply not true.” just weren’t doing it.” The project, though, has started to catalyze some of those improvements. In the Village of Oregon, the project found success “We have the ability to by working with the community to rewrite improve our own alcothe criteria for issuing alcohol licenses and hol environment, we just to adopt ordinances to limit underage drinkweren’t doing it.” ing. Oregon also became the only place in Dane County to prohibit single servings of Julia Sherman alcohol from being sold at gas stations. lead coordinator “Nobody is really buying one beer to take home Wisconsin Alcohol Policy Project and put in the refrigerator,” Sherman explained. The program is also analyzing which bars are over-serving customers through its “Place of Last Drink” study. The research Despite the abundance of new informais based on forms individuals fill out after tion such data has provided, Wisconsin’s Operating While Intoxicated arrests. The image is still deeply tied to a culture of forms ask where the individual last had drinking. With more evidence-based polialcohol, allowing the researchers to dis- cies, though, Sherman says Wisconsin can cover over-serving patterns. continue to improve. “The overall goal is just to make “We’re making enormous strides,” Sherman Wisconsin a safer place,” said Phil Glapa, a said. “And the statistics back me up.”
Story by Jake Skubish
BESTY OSTERBERGER/CARDINAL FILE PHOTO
UW-Madison students crowded balconies during a Mifflin Street Block Party, one of which was feature in a “I’m Shmacked” video celebratng binge drinking.
UW schools tackle drug, alcohol policies System officials share policies, then tailor them to fit issues and students at respective campuses Story by Madeline Heim There’s no shortage of alcohol-soaked traditions at college campuses across the country, even within the UW System— whether that’s Oktoberfest at UW-La Crosse, UW-Whitewater’s Spring Splash or the biannual pub crawl in Oshkosh. And for every event, there are dozens of guidelines, strategies and campaigns in place to educate students about the risks they take when engaging in heavy drinking. But those at UW-Madison who seek to promote healthy habits face hurdles other UW System schools do not. The university has more than 43,000 students to watch over, and 200-plus places nearby where those students can purchase alcohol—a situation that Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Prevention Coordinator Reonda Washington says is a different beast from that of UW-Oshkosh, where nearly every bar is located in a strip right across campus.
“I think we’ve made some great stride, preventionwise. There’s still things we need to do, and places we need to go, and things we need to work for.” Reonda Washington alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs prevention coordinator University Health Services
Even drinking cultures at other Big Ten institutions, which have more comparable student populations, do not measure up in
quite the same way. UW-Madison topped the Princeton Review’s most recent ranking of the nation’s party schools and clocked in at No. 1 and No. 5 for the Review’s lists on beer and hard liquor consumption, respectively. It has also been featured in several “I’m Shmacked” videos celebrating collegiate binge-drinking. Despite the differences, communication within the system and with peer institutions about what works with alcohol policies is common. “We do check in at least once a semester, and sometimes there are campaigns, sometimes we do trainings, and all of us get together from all of the UW System schools if we can,” Washington said of the system’s AODA coordinators. “If not, we have really long phone calls.” Those phone calls also occur between the Big Ten schools, six of which share data from the educational program AlcoholEdu students are required to complete prior to beginning school. UW-Madison is the only UW System school to participate in the program. Although specific data is not allowed to be published, Washington did disclose other information that she’s learned from a few years of comparisons—like the fact that pulls, drinking directly from a hard liquor bottle, are a much more common practice at her university than others in the Big Ten. She said this is just another example of how it’s best to tailor alcohol policies and strategies to specific campuses. The UW System does not currently have an overarching policy on how its schools should regulate alcohol and other drugs, allowing each campus to evaluate its own needs and craft resulting guidelines. The approach gives schools freedom to implement tougher policies, like UW-Stout’s smoke-free campus, or less stringent policies as they see fit, according to UW System AODA Coordinator Sal Carranza.
“We move forward policies, guidelines that our campuses can use, and it’s up to each campus to develop their own,” Carranza said. “As it should be.” That campus-based, individualized structure stems from the system’s 2001 document developing principles for AODA education, which looks different at each school—often depending on resource allocation. Although each university in the system has an AODA coordinator, for several of them, looking after students’ dealings with alcohol is not their only job.
“We move forward policies, guidelines that our campuses can use, and it’s up to each campus to develop their own.” Sal Carranza aoda coordinator UW System
While Washington’s primary job at UW-Madison is to assess and seek out best practices for education around alcohol and other drugs, she explained smaller schools must split their time. At UW-Whitewater, the position is 50 percent AODA and 50 percent Wellness Coordinator, for example, and at UW-Stevens Point, it’s half AODA and half interpersonal violence prevention. “In the budget crunch we’ve seen in the past few years, many of the other campuses had to consolidate and eliminate positions,” Carranza said. “That creates a little challenge for them to be able to do as good of a job as they wish they could do.” Still, Carranza stressed the willingness of not just AODA coordinators, but also faculty, staff and students to promote a safer
drinking culture on their campuses. He said each time a committee is created to assess alcohol and drug usage, all those populations are represented. But while approaches differ campus-tocampus, Carranza said the overall goal is always the same: educating students about their drinking habits and providing easy-toaccess resources for times when those habits may get out of hand. And schools do tend to share campaigns and strategies, helping each other with modifications to fit different needs. UW-Milwaukee’s AODA Coordinator Susan Cushman, who said she employs a “combination of strategies” to address misuse of drinking and drugs on her campus, also mentioned the help that network provides. “Often there is only one AODA coordinator on a campus,” Cushman explained. “So the ability to connect with professionals who are in similar roles from across the UW System is helpful for benchmarking, discussing trends and issues, sharing ‘lessons learned’ and offering support to one another.” For example, Washington said after she presented findings from UW-Madison’s Color of Drinking survey at a national conference, she spoke with Cushman about how the survey could look at a different campus. She also acknowledged that UW-Madison’s strategies and guidelines on alcohol and other drugs have positively affected student behavior even in the last few years. For example, AlcoholEdu debuted on campus in 2013, and she said since then, data has shown a 5 percent reduction in high-risk drinking. “I think we’ve made some great strides, prevention-wise,” Washington said. “There’s still things we need to do, and places we need to go, and things we need to work for. But as a university, I feel like we’ve made some great strides.”
Action Project Issue, February 2017
KATIE SCHEIDT/THE DAILY CARDINAL
The policy at Madison emergency rooms is to encourage dangerously intoxicated underage drinkers to seek medical treatment without fear of legal reprecussions.
City hospitals prioritize treatment over legalities in cases of underage drinking By Gina Heeb THE DAILY CARDINAL
Matthew Klimesh—a registered nurse who has worked in the trauma unit of UW-Hospital since 2013—said during his short time in acute care, so far, he has already seen several lives put on the line because underagers who have had too much to drink are afraid to get medical treatment. “I’ve seen a lot of young people end up in liver failure, with permanent brain damage or even dead,” Klimesh said. “Youth doesn’t afford invincibility.” While the number of alcohol poisoning deaths in Wisconsin has risen substantially over recent years, state hospitals have seen a steady decrease in alcohol-related admissions since 2010. There were 220 fatalities caused by alcohol-related poison-
ing in Wisconsin in 2014, according to the state Department of Health Services. The figure is up 45 percent since 2010, which saw 151 deaths attributed to poisonous levels of liquor consumption. However, the rate of hospitalizations related to alcohol per 100,000 people in the state decreased by 5 percent over the same time span, from 857 in 2010 to 810 in 2007. Those low hospital admittance rates could, according to Klimesh, include people under the age of 21 who—despite being dangerously intoxicated—don’t seek medical attention due to uncertainty around when it’s necessary or fear of getting in trouble with the law. “Far too often, these young adults are found unconscious the morning after a night of partying,” Klimesh said. “Essentially they’ve
been abandoned by friends believing they need to ‘sleep it off’ or their companions are too scared of legal repercussions if they seek medical attention.” Paul Hick, emergency room director at Meriter Hospital, said in his eight years in the position he has never seen police called by medical personnel solely to report an underage person. The only time hospital staff might make a call to police is to request their help in figuring out the name of an intoxicated person who comes in with no identification. Hick said it’s not common for his department to reach out to the police after encountering an intoxicated person, but it is common for police to reach out to Meriter. Often police will take incapacitated person off the street under protective custody, he said, rather than for the purpose of pursuing
any legal consequences. “It’s not being arrested,” Hick said. “That’s a really important distinction. They’re in a safety hold, basically. The law stipulates that the patient is then handed over to the custody of the ER.” Klimesh agreed that there is little basis for underagers to be intimidated by legal repercussions of seeking help when they need it. Social workers might become involved with any intoxicated minors admitted to the hospital, he said, but staff are concerned only with medical treatment for admittants over the age of 18. Overdosed patients might end up receiving a consult from a substance counseling team or from the psychology department before they leave, but police aren’t contacted— even in cases of illicit drug usage—if no other crimes have been commit-
ted, according to Klimesh. “If the only crime you’ve committed is being an intoxicated underager, you’re not going to get in trouble for going into a medical facility for help,” Klimesh said. Klimesh said, in some of the most severe cases he’s seen, teens have lengthy hospitalizations, even up to six months in one incidence. He said timing plays a big role in those patient outcomes, so knowing when to seek medical treatment and not being afraid to do so are essential. “Early intervention is key in these situations,” Klimesh said. “If one person would take appropriate action rather than leaving them to sit overnight, I believe these situations could have much shorter hospitalizations and happier endings. The quicker we are able to get them to medical attention, the better the outcome will be.”
MPD program targets economic side of heroin epidemic By Gina Heeb THE DAILY CARDINAL
In addressing the county’s swelling heroin epidemic, Madison police are looking to economics. Despite training and deploying a narcotics task force specifically designed to curb the number of drugs available in the city, Madison Police Department saw a 77 percent increase in overdose rates in 2016 from the previous year. One MPD officer has an idea behind why—local law enforcement has focused on just one side of the issue. “Our narcotics task force targets people supplying drugs into the city,” MPD Capt. Corey Nelson said. “Now, we are looking to the demand portion of it.” Clement is leading efforts in a new MPD program set to start this June, which will offer treatment as an alternative to incarceration for low-level drug offenders. The program—Madison Addiction Recovery Initiative—provides users with counselors, peer support recovery coaches and residential or outpatient care, depending on the individual’s needs. “It looks at addiction more as a disease than a crime,” Clement said. Clement said he saw a high relapse rates as a signal that something new needed to be done. “Our overdose rates are still
KATIE SCHEIDT/THE DAILY CARDINAL
MPD Capt. Corey Nelson is leading efforts to offer treatment as an alternative to jail time for lowlevel drug offenders through a new program called the Madison Addiction Recovery Initiative. skyrocketing,” he said. “However well we’ve done in the past, it doesn’t appear to be working. A number of those we’re arresting are repeat offenders. They get out of jail and they overdose or go to jail again, so we need to look at some new ideas.” One major problem Clement saw with the old system is that users are arrested and end up having to enter withdrawal in a jail
cell. He said users should be going through withdrawal in an inpatient treatment setting, because jails weren’t set up to handle the same things as medical facilities. Users being arrested and charged for crimes they commit while trying to support their addiction is another important issue the program will address, according to Clement. MARI will divert heroin pos-
session charges in cases that aren’t felony level cases and don’t involve any violence. This includes, he said, incidents of users prostituting themselves or committing theft to support an opioid addiction. Arrested users will require enrollment in the program for six months. If they comply with the full requirements of the program for six months, charges won’t be filed and won’t be on a person’s
permanent record. Users who are not encountered by police first can also reach out for help without facing risk of arrest. Once in the program, Clement said, users will be offered a counselor who is certified in mental health and substance abuse. They’ll also be offered peer support and recovery coaches who will work with the counselor to help “do the hand-holding of the individual” to make sure that they’re following through with treatment orders. Patients will also have the option of medication-assisted treatment. “There are pharmaceuticals out there that block receptors to the brain, so if someone does use an opiate, it has no effect on them,” Clement said. The program will be funded through a $700,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and Clement estimates it will be able to help up to 150 users at a time. Clement said that while the department doesn’t want to turn away people who need treatment, MARI will mainly target heroin users. Other drugs will be handled on a case-by-case basis. “We’ve looked at different programs all around the country, and taken bits and pieces of them to come up with something that will fit best in Madison,” Clement said.
Action Project Issue, February 2017
How substances affect the human brain and why some become addicted By Julie Spitzer the daily cardinal
According to Athena Kjell, a Madison area substance abuse counselor, many individuals start using drugs to suppress emotional disorders like depression or anxiety, but some do so simply for experimentation. Unfortunately, they get hooked along the way. What occurs when a person begins using a drug and what gets a person hooked on a drug involves the manipulation of the brain’s chemistry? In the brain, inhibitory neurotransmitters are active in the synapse, or the junction space between two nerve cells. Inhibitory neurotransmitters are responsible for calming the brain and balancing moods, but also for releasing dopamine, which helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine is released naturally when the the body’s natural opiates activate the opiate receptors thereby shutting down the release of inhibitory neurotransmitters.
“If you always get high to Bob Marley, when you listen to Bob Marley, you are going to think about it because what fires to.” Athena Kjell MS, LPC-IT, SAC-IT Madison Area
Dopamine is unique in that it is both an inhibitory and an excitatory neurotransmitter, meaning dopamine stimulates the brain and also relaxes it. This includes feelings of pleasure in addition to motivation. However, during drug use, which involves stimulating dopamine consistently, dopamine depletion may occur. When a person uses an opioid, which is the class of drugs that includes both common painkillers and narcotics
like heroin, the drug mimics natural opiates, binds to the brain’s opiate receptors and flooding dopamine into the synapse, which leads to pleasurable feelings, or feelings of reduced stress. Over time, the body starts to build up a dopamine tolerance, and the user starts chasing that dopamine rush that they once felt but can no longer feel due to the depletion. “This over-activation may be part of what we experience as craving which drives us to want to do the drug again—to try to lower our stress circuit activation and feel ‘better.’ It is easy to see how this may create a vicious cycle which looks like what we call addiction,” said Daniel Bradford, a graduate student in the Addiction Research Center at UW-Madison via email. Bradford added that drugs and alcohol often elicit similar responses and the term AOD—Alcohol and Other Drugs—is commonly used in the field to lump these addictive substances together. According to Bradford, researchers still aren’t certain as to what occurs in the brain when someone becomes addicted. The lab’s work with animal models and human testing has given some insights as to what may be occurring in the brain during addiction. “One thing that appears to occur is that brain circuits responsible for responding to stressors in our environment are somewhat dampened—meaning their activity is lowered—when you do a drug,” Bradford explained. “However, our brains and bodies appear to have regulatory mechanisms in place to sort of bring us back to our usual baseline after our stress is lowered by an outside force such as a drug.” Bradford added that this mechanism may sometimes
overreact, making the user feel more stressed than before they used the drug, leading to part of the withdrawal symptoms. All users will experience some withdrawal symptoms, of which can include both physical and emotional responses, but Bradford explained that the severity of these symptoms vary from individual to individual. Additionally, it is hard to link withdrawal with relapse. Kjell explained that with her clients, special dates like anniversaries and birthdays, often act as triggers for relapses. Environmental factors may also do the same. “If you always get high to Bob Marley, when you listen to Bob Marley you are going to think about it because what fires together, wires together,” Kjell said, explaining that their is a neurological reasoning behind this. According to Kjell, the hippocampus and the amygdala, two parts of the brain that help elicit memories and emotions, are triggered during learning. If pleasure is related to certain phenomena, the same pleasure will be related with the same phenomena again and again. Memories and emotions are key in treatment, too. For Kjell, a challenge in her field includes helping those who often cover up their emotions. Some clients will use when they are happy as well as when they are sad, Kjell explained. Each time that they are using, they are making a memory about it, so activities and emotions are automated meaning its evermore challenging to break, Kjell said. Counseling can change the brain, Kjell explained, but trust plays a key role in the clientpatient relationships. Breaking down personal resistance leads to the most success and maintaining personal motivation is Kjell’s goal with her clients.
In the clinic where Kjell works, addicts seeking recovery are required to attend 90 days of counseling as a precondition for receiving their detoxification prescription drug treatments. Kjell counsels mostly recovering heroin addicts, some of whom are receiving methadone or suboxone at the treatment facility within her clinic. Methadone and suboxone are two medications commonly prescribed to help recovering opioid addicts subsist withdrawal symptoms. In Wisconsin, Medicaid may help cover the cost of these treatment options. Drugs like methadone eliminate withdrawal symptoms and block cravings without the euphoric effect of other opiates. However, according to the Pat Moore Foundation, methadone addiction and abuse is a dangerous consequence of the treatment. Bradford said his lab is currently investigating a potential addiction treatment technique that repurposes drugs on the market for therapeutic purposes, such as blood pressure medications. “This work relies on new understanding of the neurotransmitter systems that may be dysregulated in addiction and the recognition that some commonly used therapeutic drugs already affect these neurotransmitter systems,” Bradford said. When counseling her clients, a technique Kjell said that her and her colleagues use is to help clients build up protective factors, or encourage them to find something to look forward to. This helps gives them something else to focus on. When a client knows they can only see their family if they are sober, for example, they are most likely to stop using. Bradford also stressed that
THE EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL
Dear Ms. Scientist, What happens when you drink too much and blackout? Bob B. Ask Ms. Scientist is written by Maggie Liu and Jordan Gaal. Burning science question? email@example.com Julie Spitzer/Created courtesy of Piktochart
counseling will only work if the individual is motivated to change, but added that other challenges may stand in the way. “Of course we must be careful and recognize that any individual may be truly motivated to change but there may be other roadblocks in their way that not every other individual seeking treatment has. Some examples may be the particular individual’s neurochemistry [or] socioeconomic status,” Bradford said.
“It is easy to see how this may create a vicious cycle which looks liek what we call addiction” Daniel Bradford graduate student Addiction Research Center
Treatment is personalized, just as is an individual’s susceptibility to a drug addiction. While the consensus is still unclear as to what makes one individual more vulnerable to an addiction than another, Bradford explained that there is a strong genetic component to addiction. He also added preexisting emotional disorders may put someone at risk. “We have found some evidence that certain individuals who experience [a] particular large amount of negative emotions [such as more anxiety or irritability] also appear to have particularly powerful responses to drugs such as alcohol. This increased response to the drug could end up relating to whether or not someone becomes addicted to the drug,” Bradford explained. Kjell agreed, adding that it’s hard to determine which came first: mental illness or addiction. As for now, the only way of preventing an addiction, Bradford said, is abstinence. What happened last night? You may be familiar with the term “blacking out.” It’s used to describe a period where someone has consumed so much alcohol they absolutely cannot remember anything that happened. Combine drinking on an empty stomach and a blood alcohol concentration between 0.14–0.20 (0.08 being the legal limit) and a person will most likely black out. When this happens, alcohol blocks our brain from transferring memories from short-term to long-term memory. Short-term memories continue to form, which is why someone who blacks out continues to function for the most part. The brain just doesn’t save these memories in the long-term storage. If a person truly blacks out, they will not be able to remember anything from that period. Heavy drinking may make you feel as if you are warm, but it is at this time you are most susceptible to hypothermia, so take extra caution in the last few days of Wisconsin’s winter.
Action Project Issue, February 2017
Sober housing for students lacking on UW’s campus MADISON SCHULTZ opinion columnist
U MILLER JOZWIAK/CARDINAL FILE PHOTO
Good Samaritan policies in Madison could disincentivize those under the influence from calling for help.
Good Samaritan laws should go further view Cardinal View editorials represent The Daily Cardinal’s organizational opinion. Each editorial is crafted independent of news coverage.
Passed out on a stranger’s bathroom floor. Stumbling down the street, held up by friends. Leaning over a plastic Walgreens bag in an Uber. Images most college students have witnessed—or personally experienced—during a night out. There’s a fine line in these situations when one too many shots flirts with alcohol poisoning, when one more pill tiptoes on overdose. But how do we as college students make that judgment call for ourselves or for a friend? With unclear policies regarding underage drinking or drug use and potential punishments across different police departments, it’s difficult to know what the consequences of calling 911 will be—for both the caller and the person in trouble. In a perfect world, emergency services would be contacted regardless of the repercussions for the sake of safety. But with underage drinking tickets costing as much as $263.50 for a first time offense and detox treatments totaling $530, the monetary effects can be troubling enough, let alone further legal ramifications. A partnership between the UW-Madison Police Department and university took steps in the right direction to clarify this about six years ago through the Responsible Action Guidelines, which aim to “create a situation where responsible action is encouraged and expected,” according to the website. The guidelines detail the situations in which the caller—not the person in danger themselves—would not be penalized for contacting emergency services despite consumption of alcohol. They do not apply to supplying of alcohol, use or possession of other drugs illegally or other crimes. The procedure focuses around four situations: victims of crime, a person in need of medical attention, a caller who stays with the impaired individuals and for representatives of organizations hosting events who contact authorities. “We’re reasonable people, and if you’re a victim of a crime or you do the right thing and you call for help for somebody, we’re not going to cite you,” UWPD Director of Communications Marc Lovicott said. “If you work with us and cooperate with us, we appreciate these individuals doing the right thing.” While the guidelines take some of the pressure off of someone getting aid for a friend, this set of exceptions is solely for callers interacting with UWPD, whose jurisdiction is limited to campus, such as in residence halls, campus streets, sport venues, etc. These guidelines are very impor-
tant and could save lives, yet they are not in place at the Madison Police Department. When someone passes out at a bar or overdoses at a house party off campus, MPD officers will be the ones responding to the scene. MPD Chief Mike Koval said the focus of any emergency situation is providing help to the person in trouble. “I believe that our Department is more interested in rendering aid than assigning blame or culpability,” Koval said in an email. “When someone calls in a heroin overdose, our first and foremost concern as ‘guardians’ is to ensure that we can save a life.” A bystander should never hesitate to call for help in an emergency situation for the fear of a drinking ticket for themselves or the endangered individual. Given the vulnerability of someone “under the throes of alcohol,” the chances of being the victim of a violent crime, sexual assault or life threatening maladie will increase, according to Koval. “We should always place a premium on encouraging the reporting of these various activities as opposed to ‘punishing’ those who took the time and made the effort to bring a situation to our attention,” Koval said. The ultimate goal of both police departments is commendable, to first provide care to the endangered and focus on potential charges or misdemeanors after. However, the Responsible Action Guidelines are just that–guidelines, not a formal code. While Koval’s stance at MPD follows a similar process, there’s no written record of it. “I agree with the city stance too,” Lovicott said of MPD. “They may not have a guideline, but in our working relationship with the city, you know they’re reasonable, and they’re not going to pursue a citation against an individual, in general terms, when they call to try to get help for a friend.” The inconsistency in policies between departments is understandable, however, it leaves students confused and uninformed, wondering if UWPD’s guidelines or the discretion of an MPD officer will determine the caller’s consequences for something such as underage drinking. Our editorial board acknowledges the work put forth by the university and UWPD’s partnership and MPD’s commitment to safety. However, we seek a more progressive angle of a Good Samaritan law to fully and consistently protect not only the caller but the endangered person in an emergency situation involving alcohol and drugs. Surely the effects of a near-death experience are a more prominent consequence than paying a fine. For Skye Tikkanen, who helped chair an ad hoc committee within the the State Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, finding ways to get those who overdose to call 911 is vital to combating
overdose deaths. A 2013 report spearheaded by Tikkanen and representatives from the state Department of Justice, law enforcement officials and others helped lead the way to a bill in 2013 that protects individuals from civil and criminal liability for calling 911 to help a friend, even if they are in possession of a controlled substance. Assembly Bill 447 was part of the Heroin, Opiate Prevention and Education Agenda, a collection of bills that state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, helped get through the legislature. However, Wisconsin’s 911 Good Samaritan laws could go further, Tikkanen said, and our editorial board agrees. Other states such as Maryland, where Tikkanen lived before Wisconsin, protect the person who does overdose from criminal liability for drug possession. According to Tikkanen, legislators like Nygren, as well as parents, were initially against these protections because they were concerned that if someone who overdoses doesn’t get arrested, that person wouldn’t get the treatment they need. At the time the expanded proposal was introduced, UWPD was against it as well. “We were not supportive of that [legislation] because the legislation took one step further, ensuring the individual who was in trouble, the person who maybe had too much to drink, also wouldn’t be sanctioned or have any repercussions against them,” Lovicott said. “We need people to understand that they can’t do this, and get no repercussions from it.” However, Nygren and Tikkanen have been working on ways to get those who overdose the treatment that they need without having to go through an arrest. “We know that treatment works better than jail,” Tikkanen said. “Recidivism is very high if we incarcerate them, many go back to using, and in a lot of cases, that’s not an effective strategy.” Whether in a bar or a residence hall, students should never hesitate when someone is in danger for the fear of an underage drinking ticket. In a state known for its binge drinking and on a campus notorious for being the number one party school, some students will toe the line of overdrinking or overdosing. It is encouraging that legislators from both sides of the aisle are working on ways to expand treatment options for those who overdose, as treatment is a better avenue than an arrest and potential jail time. We need to support policy and legislation that will save lives. Passing up this opportunity has detrimental, and sometimes fatal, costs. What are your thoughts on the existing Good Samaritan policies on campus and in the city of Madison? Have you or someone you know been affected by them? Please send any and all questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
W-Madison has a reputation of being a renowned university academically, both nationally and globally, and attracts students of many different identities, personalities, and backgrounds. We have also obtained a reputation as being a school with a huge party atmosphere and earlier this year the Princeton Review named us the top party school in the nation. While this may be true, in my two years on campus I have met plenty of people who, for a plethora of reasons, choose not to drink. Living in the dorms can be uncomfortable at times for those who choose not to drink, as they are in close quarters with classmates who may party or make it explicitly clear that they like to drink. These atmospheres are often associated with the Southeast neighborhood dorms, so many students who do not want to drink in excess tend to live in Lakeshore dorms. I, however, have lived in both a small residence hall in Lakeshore and a larger Southeast residence hall and have found instances of partying and drinking in both. Also in both dorms, I have found people who have explicitly expressed being uncomfortable with the permeating binge-drinking culture. Up until recently, students who choose not to drink had the option of living in a substancefree community in Adams Residence Hall. Unfortunately, not enough people have signed up for this community and it has ceased to exist. Part of the reason why I think not enough people signed up for the substance-free community has been the failure of the university to properly advertise it for incoming and current students—the option wasn’t widely understood, potentially contributing to the lack of interest. Often times, when I encounter a student who chooses not to drink, they feel they have to explain this choice, which only further shows how deeply ingrained the drinking culture here is. Students who do not drink may feel that they differ from the norm and that others will judge them for not partaking in what is considered common by a large portion of the student body. Also, new students may find it hard to form friendships if many people in their dorm are going out and drinking all the time. While all residence halls are technically substance-free, anyone who has ever lived in a dorm knows that this is simply not a reality. The truth is that no matter what residence hall you choose to live in, you will encounter students who choose to drink underage. If the substance-free community had been better advertised as a viable option for students, students who don’t drink may have found that there were more people like them than they realized. Students may have not signed up for the community out of fear that they would have been ostracized and not been able to meet enough people if they isolated themselves in this way. The university and we as students need to do a better job in helping to remove the stigma of non-drinking in a campus that at times seems to be filled with drinking. While this article is not meant to condemn drinking itself, as it is a reality on most campuses across the nation, more can be done to support students who choose not to drink and to make them more aware that there are plenty of others like them. Again, more of an effort needs to be made to make incoming students aware that living in the substance-free community is a great opportunity to not worry about being judged for not drinking and to meet other students who feel the same way. Removing the substance-free community ultimately does nothing to help alleviate the party atmosphere UW-Madison has been labelled with for years. Madison is a sophomore majoring in English and communications. Are you impacted by the cacncellation of the substance-free housing community? Please send comments and questions to email@example.com.
sports Action Project Issue, February 2017
Strength in numbers: athletes fight pressure to drink Trice and Runge open up about the challenges of being a non-drinking student-athlete at UW Story by Ben Pickman
t’s football Saturday in Madison, Wis., and the Badgers are set to kickoff at 11 a.m. All around campus, thousands of students wake up unusually early. They head to the nearest dining hall or make food in their apartments. But breakfast is consumed only out of necessity. It’s in preparation for the long day of drinking ahead of them. That’s the story of game day for most UW students. But for D’Mitrik Trice and Aleem Ford, two freshmen on the UW men’s basketball team, the routine couldn’t be more different. Trice and Ford are roommates. On football Saturdays, they both tend to sleep in a bit later. They go to the nearest dining hall for breakfast, taking note of all the students wearing their red-and-white bibs, throwing parties and drinking. “We kind of just walk by,” Trice said. “We’ve never actually joined somebody.” Trice and Ford enjoy walking around campus on football Saturdays, but as non-drinkers, they’ve never felt the urge to join a tailgate. They’ve never even felt the urge to drink at a college party.
“If you feel like you’re the only person out there that doesn’t drink, you’re not. You’re fine.” Cierra Runge sophomore UW Swim and Dive
While the NCAA’s most recent study on student-athlete alcohol and drug use—done in 2014—finds that the majority of Division I student-athletes do consume alcohol, about 15 percent do not. Trice, Ford and a plethora of other student-athletes at UW do not. In some ways, national drinking trends of student-athletes are similar to drinking trends of UW students. A 2009 study by David A. Yusko published in the Journal of American College Health found that Saturdays are the most common day for studentathletes to consume alcohol. Not
surprisingly, according to 2013 data published by UW’s “Alcohol Edu” program, UW students tend to consume the most alcoholic drinks on Saturdays as pre-game tailgates full of beer and hard liquor emerge in full force. Yet for non-drinking studentathletes, abstaining from drinking at a tailgate is not a problem. “I like to toss around a football and play cornhole,” sophomore swimmer Cierra Runge, a non-drinking studentathlete, said. “Just be with my friends.” Ru n ge often tailgates with her teammates on the swim team, and they are joined by other Badger fans of all ages. They play music, grill burgers and have a good time. And while there is usually alcohol present, she chooses not to partake. But Runge’s drinking habits, or lack thereof, make her an anomaly in the college swimming world. Almost 89 percent of all female swimmers say they have consumed alcohol in the last year. That’s the second-highest percentage of alcohol consumption among women’s sports. Additionally, according to the NCAA, 88 percent of male swimmers say they have consumed alcohol in the last year. That’s the fourth-highest percentage among any men’s sport, just slightly below men’s golf, men’s lacrosse and men’s ice hockey. By comparison, only 58 percent of men’s basketball players reported having consumed alcohol in the past twelve months, by far the lowest among any Division I sport. Trice credits that number to the fact that basketball season last nearly the entire school year. From October to late-March, the Badgers are either practicing or playing games. “The football players are not
Alcohol Consumption by Sport - Men’s College Athletics
in season right now. They might be working out, but they don’t have any duties on the field,” Trice said. “Basketball is a yearround thing, so I would expect us to be more aware.”
Trice, Ford and senior forward Nigel Hayes are the only nondrinking athletes on the team. Trice says Hayes spends a lot of time hanging out in his apartment. Trice and Ford usually go out once a month, and most of their nights are spent hanging out together in their dorm room. In the rare event that the duo does go out, it’s been easy to avoid getting peer pressured into drinking. “A lot of people will see us and automatically know who we are and be like, ‘Here, you can have this,’” Trice said. “And I’m like, ‘We don’t drink.’ Me and Aleem don’t drink at all so it’s pretty easy to turn people down.” Nobody in Trice’s family is a drinker. “I just didn’t grow up around it,” he said. Alcohol has never been a part of his persona. In his own words, he likes to stay in his own mind. Ford’s reasoning is nearly identical. Runge has also never been a drinker. She’s never seen the appeal of it. In her mind, her
body is a machine and putting alcohol in her machine has negative effects. According to Mary Wilfert, the associate director of the NCAA’s Sport Science Institute, studentathletes face the same difficulties in resisting alcohol as other college students. “The college effect increases the potential for students to adopt behaviors that they perceive are expectations of the group,” Wilfert said in an email. “Programs that recognize and ad d r e s s these risk factors arm studentathletes with strategies to consider personal impacts of alcohol use and to support healthy choices.” At UW, all incoming students are required to take AlcoholEdu before enrolling in their first semester of classes. Runge adds that all student-athletes are also required to take Badger Step Up!, another program which specifically educates student-athletes on what to do in various scenarios involving alcohol and nightlife on campus. Trice also finds the resources in East Campus Mall, his teachers and coaches integral in helping student-athletes dealing with potential alcohol-related problems. Wilfert says that heavy drinking has an inverse effect on academic success. She adds that alcohol consumption among student-athletes can cause dehydration, slow muscle recovery, sleep disturbance and decreased memory and retention, among other notable side effects. Still, the majority of student-athletes choose to drink. According to the NCAA, 44 percent of male student-athletes can be classified as binge drinkers. 33 percent of female athletes can be given the same classification. Both of those percentages are down from 2010. According to
Runge, that’s because athletes like herself have become increasingly knowledgeable about the risks of binge drinking. Runge is also aware that every time she goes out she represents herself, UW and USA Swimming. “It’s a personal choice,” she said. “But it also is that as well. I have a responsibility to myself and everyone around me to be at my best.” When Trice first visited UW, he, too, immediately recognized the added pressure that going out as a student-athlete entailed. Trice and Ford went out with Hayes as the then-high school students watched fans swarm the Badger star. At the few parties that Trice and Ford have attended this year, students always come up to them and ask them to take a picture or sign an autograph. While UW doesn’t publish data on student-athlete drinking habits, both Trice and Runge admit they know a lot of other sober student-athletes. And alcohol or not, they enjoy their college experience. “We don’t have to drink to have fun,” Trice said. “Me and Aleem automatically have fun just with our personalities.” “I like to have wholesome fun,” Runge said. “We all go to the movies or we all go play volleyball when it’s warm out or we all go to the lake and go paddle boarding … I just make that choice not to go out and it’s not too difficult.”
“I have a responsibility to myself and everyone around me to be at my best.” Cierra Runge sophomore UW Swim and Dive
While being non-drinking student-athletes makes Trice and Runge a minority among both Division I student-athletes and UW students in general, the two know that they are not alone. Their experiences aren’t unique at all. “If you feel like you’re the only person out there that doesn’t drink, you’re not,” Runge said. “You’re fine. You’ve got a bunch of people behind you, a bunch of people out there who don’t do all that stuff.”
Alcohol Consumption by Sport - Women’s College Athletics
Graphics by Thomas Valtin-Erwin through Tableau Public
Action Project Issue, February 2017
‘All hands on deck’: national, state and local battle against the opioid epidemic Story by Lilly Price Late last month, a child was found unconscious in his Milwaukee-area home. The boy had accidentally swallowed an oxycodone pill from his mother’s purse while she slept. His mother found him after she woke up, something the two-yearold would never do again. The cause of the death was opioid overdose. Opioid painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone are prescription drugs used to relieve pain. Opioids can come in illegal forms, such as heroin. Accidental death by opioid overdose is a common occurrence and a serious problem in Wisconsin and throughout the country. In the past decade, Wisconsin deaths from heroin overdose have increased 880 percent, according to the state DHS. During the same period between 2006 and 2015, fatal overdoses from prescription painkillers doubled to 26 percent.
“We want people to know that opioids, though they are prescribed by doctors, can be very dangerous.” Rebecca Kleefisch lt. governor Wisconsin
This addiction knows no bounds, no specific demographic and its destruction reaches every corner of Wisconsin. A well-used statistic in the state explains more Wisconsin citizens died in 2014 from overdoses than car crashes. To address the continuously increasing number of lives lost due to opioid and heroin addiction throughout the state, Gov. Scott Walker declared the opioid epidemic as a public health crisis last month. Walker signed three executive orders and 12 bills into action, which support 17 existing laws written by Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, to battle the epidemic. The executive orders came in response from recommendations from his Opioid Task Force, headed by Nygren and Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. The Task Force was created to work with agency heads, advocacy groups and the numerous stakeholders affected to find ways to get more addicts access to treatment and end the stigma associated with addiction. Nygren is seen as the state’s leader in the fight against the opioid epidemic. His own daughter battled with heroin addiction. He would read overdose obituaries and hear of people he went to school with struggle with addiction and thought it was time to use his family story to make a difference. In 2013, Nygren started the Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education Agenda. Through the HOPE Agenda, Nygren brought attention to a prominent national and statewide problem that was overlooked. To combat Wisconsin’s heroin problem, Nygren worked on bills that
addressed the root cause of prescription drug abuse. While the HOPE Agenda hears from stakeholders, the Task Force, comprised of 20 individuals in backgrounds such as law, justice, medic i n e a n d addiction treatment, focuses on bringing each m e mb e r ’s niche to the table to discuss ways to solve the epidemic. The dangers of prescription painkillers Many legislators involved in this epidemic have an anecdote of a child, sometimes as young as nine, using drugs taken out their parents’ medicine cabinet. Although this problem is not reserved for a particular demographic, teens and young adults are the largest section dealing with opioid addiction, most commonly starting with prescription drugs and escalating into a fullblown heroin addiction. Addictions don’t always start from stealing drugs. It can start from being legally prescribed a drug like hydrocodone or vicodin after getting wisdom teeth pulled or a sports injury. Or maybe someone gives their friend who just pulled a muscle some pills from an older prescription. These types of innocent scenarios account for 80 percent of addictions. “We want people to know that opioids, though they are prescribed by doctors, can be very dangerous,” Kleefisch said. Kleefisch told The Daily Cardinal this epidemic has gotten so bad that realtors are considered a stakeholder group since addicts will attend open houses to rifle through people’s medicine cabinets and drawers to locate extra prescriptions. A problem far from solved Wisconsin’s battle against opioid and heroin addiction is currently the most bipartisan movement in state legislature. Nygren refers to the Task Force as “all hands on deck from a legislative standpoint.” “I have not seen any effort get as much support as anything like this has in my 10 years,”
Nygren told The Daily Cardinal. “The reason why I think it’s gotten such support is that these issues are hitting home in all parts of Wisconsin.” But despite the effort put forth by the Task
Force, Walker’s executive orders and the laws already in place, hundreds of children, teens, adults and elders keep dying. Critics say the state has a lot more work to do, especially in terms of prevention methods. Some rural districts have issues implementing the Task Force’s recommendations due to a lack of resources to treat addicts. State Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, who is also on the Task Force, explained that rural districts like her own require far more than the first bundle of bills signed last month. “If you’re in a rural area and your county literally doesn’t have somebody who does addiction counseling, or somebody who does a treatment program for youth, well I guess [addicts] are going to have to go through the court system,” Bewley said. With a lack of treatment options, preventing people from their first time abusing drugs is the most important, and fastest, way to prevent a drug-related death. A reason for optimism The opioid and heroin crisis is not an easy thing to measure. But there are some indicators that Wisconsin’s situation has improved since 2013. In the first year when a law that made Narcan, an opioid antagonist that stops an overdose, available to first responders, there was an estimated 4,000 admissions of Narcan statewide. Not all of those admissions saved lives, but it did help many that otherwise would have died. A prevention measure that will officially be in place this April is a prescription drug monitoring program that requires doctors to register when a patient gets a prescription, or requests a prescription, into a database. This system is already unofficially in place. Between 2015 and 2016, the a mount of opioid medication prescribed inWisconsin went down 10 percent. “That’s 80 million fewer addictive pills available for
THEDA BERRY/THE DAILY CARDINAL
someone with an addiction or somebody that might be redistributing them to others for sale,” Nygren said. The co-chairs of the Task Force have also recommended to have UW System charter a recovery high school so young people struggling with addiction can receive treatment while receiving an education.
“The reason why I think it’s gotten such support is that these issues are hitting home in all parts of Wisconsin.” Rep. John Nygren state assembly Wisconsin
“As research shows, the frequency of relapse for students who go back to their traditional school setting can be over 50 percent,” said Gary Bennett, director of UW’s Office of Educational Opportunity in a statement. “Frequently because their social contacts might have been users, their distribution point could probably be on or near campus, so they need that disruption to continue recovery.” There is currently a recovery high school already in Madison, which is also the last remaining recovery school in the Midwest. Traci Goll has been the director of Horizon High School, a private non-profit recovery school, for the past 11 years. The school mixes daily activities about sobriety and mental health with academic curriculum for students who actively want to stay sober. “They come so beaten down, so depressed, feeling like the biggest failures,” Goll said. “When they come to Horizon we work really hard every day to make them know they’re worthy of a sober life. They’re not bad people, they’re kids who have a disease and are often really misunderstood.” Horizon, however, is completely reliant on donations and constantly struggles to keep its doors open. The UW-facilitated charter school would differ from Horizon by utilizing public school finances and Medicaid dollars for funding. “It’s been a really great example of the Capitol and UW working together to meet a very serious crisis,” Bennett said. Although it seems like there’s hope for the future, for many legislators, administrators, officials, victims, friends and family who have had to bury their loved ones much too soon, the battle against opioids wages on.