Alcohol Health Risks

Virginia State University is dedicated to the education of students and employees about the health risks associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs. Descriptions of some of these health risks are described below. In addition, behavioral difficulties at work, in school, or in relationships and with the law can be linked to the abuse of alcohol and other drugs.

Alcohol, a potentially addictive drug with significant physical and psychological consequences, is a central nervous system depressant that causes a number of marked changes in behavior. Even at relatively low levels, alcohol can impair judgment and decision-making. Low doses can also impair judgment and coordination required to drive a car safely, placing the driver and others at risk of injury. At higher levels, alcohol impairs the functioning of one's vital organs and can result in coma or death. Low to moderate doses of alcohol also increases the incidence of aggressive acts of violence, including spousal and child abuse. Moderate to high doses cause marked impairments in higher mental functions, severely altering a person's ability to learn and remember information. Very high doses can cause respiratory depression and death.

Repeated use of alcohol can lead to dependence. Sudden interruption of alcohol intake can produce withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety, tremors, hallucination, and convulsions. Alcohol withdrawal can be life threatening. Prolonged and excessive use of alcohol, especially when combined with poor nutrition, can cause progressive damage to vital organs.

Mothers who drink during pregnancy may give birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome. In many cases FAS infants have physical abnormalities and mental retardation.

Alcohol on campus causes some special problems

For Students 
Students who use alcohol may suffer in many ways. For example, alcohol use can result in:

Poor Grades
Drinkers can suffer academically as a result of slowed thinking, poor concentration, and frequent absence from class, etc. A cycle of failure and escape into use of alcohol can set in.

Risky Behavior
Alcohol can lead a person to say or do something he or she will regret. Foe example, a person who has been drinking is more likely to make a bad decision about whether to have sex.

Accidents and Injuries
Falls, cuts and bruises are common results of alcohol use. Automobile crashes are one of the most common causes of death and serious injury for young people. Victims may include bystanders as well as the drinkers themselves.

Poor Health
Heavy use of alcohol can weaken the body. This sets the stage for illnesses that can affect class attendance as well as participation in sports and other activities.

Violating school rules on alcohol use may also mean probation, suspension or expulsion.