Boynton sponsors debateabout student drinking

by Pat Casey

Educators at Boynton Health Service say that about one-fourth of the University’s student body drinks excessively.
Amelious Whyte, a Boynton health educator, said this statistic concerns him. Students need to know that there are ways to curb or stop problem drinking, he said.
The health service sponsored a discussion Tuesday to debate two different schools of thought on the treatment of alcohol abuse. The conference, which was held at Coffman Memorial Union Theater, attracted about 25 students and staff members.
The debate featured Audrey Kishline, founder of Moderation Management, and William C. Moyers, a public policy advocate for Hazelden Foundation. The two talked about total abstinence from alcohol versus moderation management.
Moyers, who said he is an alcoholic, is a proponent of the abstinence of alcohol and 12-step programs. “Chemical dependency is a disease … and a treatable disease,” he said. “When it comes to my disease, I need to be with other people who are just like me … and have strength in numbers.”
Kishline, who said she is a former problem drinker, is an advocate of alcohol moderation. She said she believes there is a big difference between an alcoholic who drinks everyday for 30 years and a college student who drinks only at parties.
Kishline said people can be problem drinkers and not be alcoholics. She said her organization helps people without labeling them.
“Moderation Management helps people before their problem drinking becomes severe,” Kishline said. “There are four times as many problem drinkers as there are alcoholics.”
Kishline considers problem drinkers to be less severe than alcoholics. She said young parents who practice moderation of alcohol use set a good example for their kids.
Kishline said people in her program limit themselves to a set amount of alcohol each week. She said women aim for nine drinks a week and men aim for 14.
Treatment centers diagnose problem drinkers as alcoholics so insurance companies will pay for their treatment, Kishline said. Once this happens, a person labeled as an alcoholic often cannot get health insurance.
Moyers said he disagrees with this theory of conspiracy. He said people usually go to treatment centers willingly and determine by themselves that they are alcoholics. Hazelden, like many other treatment centers, is a nonprofit organization.
Kishline said her organization and Alcoholics Anonymous are free groups, also.
Moderation Management is fine for some people, Moyers said, but it does not work for him, nor does it work for serious alcoholics. “You’re playing with fire,” he said. “I do believe Moderation Management works best, if at all, for people who are not chemically dependent.”
Whyte said this debate on moderation management and abstinence was planned “because in the treatment field, it’s a big issue … and some people in the treatment field don’t even consider moderation an option.”