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Still No Alcohol Rehab but University of Wisconsin Cracks Down on Alcohol Abuse

University of Wisconsin Madison has such a bad reputation for alcohol I’m surprised parents are still sending their kids there. They are on the top ten party schools list year after year and probably graduate hundreds of budding or full-fledged alcoholics every year. I’m sure many of the students will eventually need alcohol rehab – whether they admit it or not. But administrators at the school are seriously trying to change the school’s image, and that means stricter rules about drinking.

In fact, the problem isn’t only with Wisconsin universities – the entire state is known as a drinking culture. A few years ago Wisconsin was # 1 in the U.S. for binge drinking, percentage of drinkers in the population, and driving under the influence.

Here’s a quote from an article written a few years ago.

“We lag a few states in beer consumption, but we’re near the top. With brandy, it’s no contest. We put away more brandy per person than any other state. We have a strong claim on the vodka title, too. And often we have no clue how drunk we are. Consider, for example, 75 drinkers who took a breath test for the Journal Sentinel. About half underestimated their blood-alcohol level, and when they did, they missed by a lot – falling short of their actual results by an average of 35%. Many who were over the legal limit for driving expressed full confidence in their ability to get behind the wheel. Person for person, we have three times more taverns here than the rest of the country.”

It isn’t surprising that schools would also be a big problem.

At University of Wisconsin Madison, students receive citations for underage drinking, requiring a trip to detox, alcohol-related disorderly conduct, or other alcohol violation. They may be referred to counseling and they may be kicked out of dorms; but the penalties and the way the issue was addressed were inconsistent.

Now, a first offense for underage drinking carries a fine of $263.50 – quite a lot for many students – and they are required to do a course on alcohol abuse. The course costs $78 for two group sessions or $200 for private sessions.

A course on alcohol abuse can be effective, although one study found that students who did a similar course when they first entered university as freshman didn’t drink a lot in the first semester but the resolve didn’t last.

Not surprising – considering the environment.

The best option would be a real alcohol and drug rehab program. Finding out about alcohol abuse is helpful, but it doesn’t necessarily help the student get to the bottom of why he’s drinking in the first place, help curb the urge, or enable him to confidently say no in the future – all of which would happen in a really good alcohol addiction treatment program.

Administrators will be watching over things to monitor the success of their new program. But parents are still primarily responsible for making sure their kids are educated on the subject and, if needed, getting them into an alcohol rehab program to get sorted out.

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