By The Gatepost Editorial Board
“Halloweekend” is a time-honored tradition for college students.
For young adults, taking a break from coursework to celebrate the holiday is almost certain, whether by themselves or at a party. And for some, that celebration might include consuming alcohol or marijuana.
For 21-year-olds in Massachusetts, recreational, responsible alcohol and marijuana use is socially acceptable.
It’s expected that some college students will spend Halloween unwinding with some light social drinking, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The problem is when this activity becomes habitual and it is no longer just for fun.
College students are highly susceptible to not knowing their limits and are vulnerable to becoming addicted to these substances.
Students are usually also lacking the knowledge of how damaging excessive substance use can be to their mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
For example, what is portrayed in the media as a typical college party is actually a depiction of binge drinking and drug abuse.
Having four drinks on one occasion for a female and five drinks on one occasion for a male is considered binge drinking.
Many college students do not know this or that binge drinking is a national problem.
Approximately 13% of full-time college students aged 18 to 22 met the criteria for alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the past year, according to a 2021 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism survey.
Additionally, 22,219 college students aged 18 to 24 are hospitalized for alcohol poisoning every year, according to a 2021 bulletin from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHS).
It is important for college students to learn more about their limits, and to become educated so they don't end up in one of these statistical categories.
Waking up with a hangover every Sunday is not normal.
It is important to learn how to drink responsibly so alcohol consumption doesn't interfere with other aspects of your life.
Additionally, due to the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts, students have easy access to this substance, leading to its normalization and an increase in consumption without much knowledge of some of the consequences that may occur.
Because marijuana legalization is still relatively recent, there have only been a limited number of studies analyzing the long-term effects of this substance and how it impacts the body and mind - especially within the college student demographic.
Marijuana can impair thinking, memory, and learning. It also affects learning and the ability to make connections within the brain like building memories.
Researchers are still studying how long marijuana's effects last and whether the impacts on the brain are permanent.
A lack of education paired with such easy access to marijuana is harmful.
That is why it is up to you to educate yourself about the difference between social use of substances and addiction.
There are several resources right here on campus to help you reduce your risk of developing an unhealthy relationship with these substances.
For example, the S.E.A.L.S. Peer Health Educators hold tables in the McCarthy Center on how much alcohol is in a standard drink and how to read your blood alcohol content (B.A.C.).
The Health and Wellness Center is equipped with professionals with a background in safe drinking and substance use.
Just in the last few weeks, FSU’s health center has hosted events on the use of fentanyl, Narcan training, and alcohol's role in abusive relationships.
These resources on campus as well as helplines such as the SAMHSA National Helpline, 1-800-662-4357 are available to students who believe they may be battling addiction.
If you think you or someone you know has a substance abuse problem, reach out to SAMHSA or Framingham State’s on-campus counseling and health center.
Please - use these resources before it is too late.
And educate yourself on how to be safe.
It is not wrong to want to have a drink on Halloween, but Halloweekend is not every day.
Know your limits.