MUN launches online drinking checkup
ST. JOHN’S (CUP) — Memorial University of Newfoundland has launched an online comprehensive assessment to identify and curtail students’ binge-drinking habits.
The idea for the assessment came out of a 2008 comprehensive health survey conducted by the university’s counselling centre. The survey studies information provided by students and gives feedback on alcohol use, associate health risks, and calculate how much money a student is spending on booze.
“We had over 800 participants from MUN — students from MUN. We found that 56 per cent of MUN students binge drink according to that survey that we did,” said Kelly Neville, a nurse and wellness co-ordinator at the university’s counselling centre.
In addition to the information gathered from that survey, the centre also conducts in-person alcohol screening tests.
Last month, 154 students took part in the alcohol screening, compared to 114 students who took part in the November 2010 screening.
Neville says the results from these screenings showed close to eight per cent of those who took part admitted to having harmful or hazardous drinking habits.
One of the questions during last month’s screening was about drinking and driving.
“There was almost four-and-a-half per cent in the November screening who said they have driven when they had had too much to drink,” said Neville. “(That number is) down to almost 2 per cent from the January screening.”
Most students who took part fell between the ages of 19 and 21.
In the last two screenings, Neville says close to five per cent of those screened for alcohol abuse admitted to having an underlying mental condition, such as depression.
“You wonder which came first, the chicken or the egg? Are people medicating with alcohol because of their depression? Or is the depression being caused as result of using the alcohol?
“Individuals with problems often don’t recognize themselves that they may have a problem, and I think denial may be a factor as well,” said Neville.
Neville says cultural expectations could have a lot to do with drinking habits and wants the new alcohol e-checkup to act as a form of intervention for students.
“Not that (students) are doing anything wrong. It’s just that this kind of behaviour sets behaviours for later in life, you know. It could be very harmful to their health, but of course, like we said, they are at risk for the drinking and the driving as well,” Neville said.
“Over a long-term basis, they can keep going in and reassessing to see where they are with their drinking by using the new alcohol e-checkup.
Hopefully it will help them say, ‘You know, I do have a problem here, and I do need to get some help,’” she said.