A second look at drug counselors

Many students do not call and want to know about their own drinking patterns.

The Nov. 21 Daily editorial “Dealing with substance abuse” remarks, “It’s a shame there is only one drug counselor on the second-largest U.S. campus.” While it is true there is only one designated drug and alcohol counselor at Boynton Health Service, it is also true that there are many counselors who help students who have problems with alcohol and drugs.

Campus data reveals that there are many students with potential abuse problems, but the phones have not been ringing off the hook. We don’t get many calls from students who want to know more about their own drinking patterns. Although some of our patients are mandatory referrals from housing or the judicial system, it should be noted that most counseling visits for drug and alcohol problems are voluntary. Students don’t think their drinking is a problem so they don’t seek help.

Many counselors on this campus deal with chemical abuse problems. The counselors in the Mental Health Clinic at Boynton Health Service and at University Counseling and Consulting Services all deal with alcohol and other drugs. Academic advisers, community advisers in the residence halls, health advocates, faculty and staff members also help.

The editorial was helpful in calling attention to alcohol use by students. Forty-five percent of the 18- to 24-year-old undergraduates reported engaging in high-risk drinking in the past two weeks while 1.3 percent reported they have been diagnosed with an alcohol problems. High-risk drinking might not be a counseling issue for students, but it could become an issue in the future. Students who have engaged in high-risk drinking report having six times more negative consequences than those who did not engage in high-risk drinking. Usually it’s the negative consequences from drinking such as loss of loved ones that move people to treatment. I encourage anyone concerned about their drinking or the drinking of their friend to get help. You can schedule an appointment with Mary Roske-Groth, our designated chemical health counselor, or other counselors at Boynton Health Service, by calling 624-1444 or University Counseling and Consulting Services at 624-3323. Chemical dependency can get worse as time goes by. If you think you have a problem, call. Appointments are available.

Edward P. Ehlinger is Director and Chief Health Officer for Boynton Health Service. Please send comments to [email protected]