ifIknew is a health initiative for young adults that uses a multi media approach, including social media and in person programs, to address the contemporary issues that impact the well-being, self-image, careers, and relationships of people in their 20's and 30's.

If I Knew is a prevention education project that raises awareness about risky behaviors that can profoundly impact lives.

Filtering by Category: Alcohol, Tobacco & other Drugs

Freedom...with a warning label.

It’s the time of year when there is an uptick in the number of alcohol overdoses occurring on campuses across the country. Newfound freedom for freshmen often seems to take the form of the freedom to drink with abandon. But the body has its natural limits. Binge drinking can lead to an overdose or what is otherwise called alcohol poisoning.  This happens when someone drinks more rapidly than his or her body can metabolize. Alcohol’s intoxicating property, ETOH, goes straight to the brain, hence the buzz. The alcohol builds up in the bloodstream and depresses the part of the brain that controls involuntary actions like breathing and physical coordination.  It can cause the drinker to lose consciousness.  At this point  the drinker is at high risk to choke on his or her own vomit, stop breathing, have irregular, slow, or fast heartbeats, brain damage, hypothermia or hypoglycemia (which can lead to a seizure), or death.  Someone who survives an overdose can still suffer irreversible brain damage.

The difficulty in defending oneself against unwanted sexual advances when intoxicated accounts for a high percentage of  rapes, that are reported or go unreported on campuses each year.

College is so much more than drinking.   Find the student activities director on campus and ask for a list of non-drinking fun alternatives around town. Join clubs that may interest you or will advance your social life or future career. Join an intramural sports team.   Constructive activities abound – and it’s much more fun to wake up with a great memory than to have no memory, regrets, or find yourself in the hospital.

What Happened Last Night?

You’re confused, nauseous, dizzy, and embarrassed so you quickly get dressed and slip out of the house. Back at your own place, you sleep a while longer and then ask your friends why they ditched you. To your surprise, they never saw you. The twenty unopened texts confirm their claims. Pretty sure you had sex, you lie in bed for the rest of the day trying to figure out what to do. Finally, on Sunday, your friend’s sister convinces you to go the hospital and tell them that you’ve been raped. Sadly, it’s too late. The Rohypnol used to drug you is already out of your system and your attacker didn’t leave evidence because he (thankfully) used a condom. Going out tonight? Protect yourself.

  • If someone wants to buy you a drink, go with them to the bar and watch it being poured.
  • If you only had one drink and you feel drunk, call 911 or get help immediately.
  • Don’t leave your drink unattended. If you do, dump it!
  • Open your own bottles.
  • Don’t take a drink from someone else.
  • Avoid community drinks.
  • Stay away from punch bowls.
  • If it tastes or smells funny or different, then it probably is!

Have your designated driver keep an eye out for those who are drinking and what everyone is drinking as well.

Resources: National Directory of Rape Crises Centers Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE

Rant - You know what I hate?

I hate lying. I hate deceit. I hate playing on your personality and interests for personal gain. And I especially hate when all of the above are mixed together, along with bright colors, catchy mastheads, and pop culture to produce a concoction that’s sticky sweet in all the wrong aspects. You know what I’m talking about?

I’m talking about those irritating advertisements that take up the first and last thirty pages of whatever magazine you’re reading. Those ads that promise good fortune, lush hair, silky skin lots of friends and lots of easy sex? They are there aimed at increasing hormone-induced fuzzy thinking so we’ll buy their products.

You know why it sucks?

Because we are already genetically prone to temptation, which is hard enough to avoid as it is. You hear all these stories about people who have altered the way their brain and lungs function by drinking and smoking too much, so you resolve that this sort of thing won’t happen to you. You don’t want to grow up to forever regret accepting that Solo cup of Skyy mixed with Redbull, and you promise that this won’t be your future.

You know why this could be your future?

It could be your future because whether or not you want to see this stuff every day, you do. And even though you have that "this-won’t-happen-to-me-because-I’m-smarter-then-that" attitude, you probably check out the ads because they’re colorful, they’ve got hot guys or girls in them, and/or you know the product.  Some ads show people, especially kids doing stuff that requires some serious coordination and alertness, like swimming, for example.  Does anyone you know actually go swimming after ingesting 16 ounces of Four Loko? The problem is they don’t live to tell you about it. So just why are the guys in the picture smiling? We need to remember they are acting and getting paid to appear like it’s all fun and no consequences. - R.S

Want to see for yourself? Check out the website: http://www.camy.org/

The Gateway Effect

A recent study conducted by Tristan Kirby MPH and Adam E Barry Ph.D. confirms that alcohol, not pot, is the primary indicator of whether an individual will experiment with other drugs. Researchers looked at the annual Monitoring the Future survey, in which 50,000 high school sophomores and seniors are questioned about their substance use and lifestyle choices. They compared high school seniors who had and had not consumed alcohol at least once in their lives and found that those who drank were 13 more times likely to smoke cigarettes, 16 times more likely to use  marijuana and other narcotics, and 13 times more likely to use cocaine.

So why isn’t alcohol considered a “gateway” as marijuana is? For one thing, drinking is extremely common. Alcohol is legal and relatively easy to obtain. The Centers for Disease Control recently found that 71 percent of American students have consumed alcohol in their lifetime, and that nearly 39 percent drank within the last 30 days.


A hangover.  Splitting headache, vile taste of alcohol in your mouth and a nausea that won’t subside. How many times have you woken up with a hangover and then said,“UGH! I’m never drinking again!” Now, how many of those times did you actually quit drinking for more than a day? A week? A month? If your answer was a day or a week, then you are one of the many who experience a horrid hangover, but still continue to turn back to the alcohol that was the enemy only a few hours or days before. What is it that makes us come back for more, after feeling so awful? According to psychological researcher Diane Logan, we turn back to alcohol, the source of the problem, because we just didn’t learn our lesson. We rationalize the splitting headache, claiming it isn’t really that bad and getting rid of it by taking Advil. We downsize the disgusting nausea, and lie in bed for a while understanding that it will subside eventually and looking back to the more positive parts of drinking. We engage in what is sometimes called “euphoric recall,” in which we chose to remember the “awesome” night we had instead of the current hangover. Who wouldn’t prefer recalling positive associations instead of negative ones? Drinking is all fun again.

For a lot of us, drinking has become the social sport we engage in to have a good time. We have accepted drinking as part of our life and have let this “sport” become something that we almost must do in order to fit in. Hangovers can teach us something about our bodies – like knowing when we have pushed ourselves too far - if we are smart enough to listen.

Fake ID, Real Consequences

It’s nearly every high school student and college kid’s dream - the day you are finally old enough to go to a bar and buy alcohol. For most of us this comes at the age of 18, or 21, depending on the legal age in your location. However, for others this opportunity comes prematurely, in the form of fake ID’s. Fake ID’s have become fairly easy to obtain. You can buy one for roughly $100 from a local dealer on campus, make one yourself, or take one from a similar looking older sibling.  Now fake ID’s are also very easily purchased online from offshore fake ID websites. Before you say, “Hey, it’s not such a big deal. What’s the worst that could happen?,” stop and think again.

I used to think the worst that would happen is being thrown out of the bar or having your ID confiscated.  But fines, suspension of your driver’s license and jail time are other possibilities. Some states have now even upgraded the possession of false identification to a felony. And, since 9-11, a fake ID can also be a federal offense under The Patriot Act. College admissions offices and prospective employers aren’t too keen about accepting people who’ve been charged with a felony charges.  It’s something to consider.

What Just Happened?

You’ve just arrived at the party of the year and you’re psyched.  Looking around, you realize that your friends haven’t gotten there yet.  This is the night you’re finally going to talk to  your crush  and you need their encouragement.  Everyone else looks like they’re having a great time so you head to the kitchen.  Maybe there’s some liquid courage around.  Red cups are stacked on the counter and what looks like a new trashcan filled with red punch sits in front of the sink.  You dip your cup in and take a sip.  It’s definitely spiked so you fill your cup and try to blend in while you wait for your friends to join you.  Twenty minutes later you’ve had three or four cups and your friends aren’t there yet.  As the room sways, you feel dinner and the punch start to come back up.  Grabbing the closest thing…the trashcan, you puke red everywhere.   To make matters worse, you see the flash of someone’s camera phone go off out of the corner of your eye.

What just happened?  You thought this was going to be the party of the year and now everyone is mad at you!  The brain could have had something to do with things going wrong.  When we get excited about an upcoming event like a party, a date, a text, a game, or even eating a pizza, we get a surge of dopamine.  This feel-good neurotransmitter is responsible for keeping us wanting more but not being satisfied!    We get a good feeling as we anticipate the event, but unfortunately our expectations often fall short of reality.  It’s like ordering a cherry pie for dessert at the diner and then finding out that it’s nothing like the one Grandma makes.

Our desire to be accepted, wanted, loved, cool, free, and have fun can sometimes kidnap the reasoning part of our brain.  Adding that extra boost from dopamine to the mix can create the perfect storm.  Before we do something we may regret, it’s a good idea to think things through to the end because in the end we have to live with our choices.

The Pocket Guide to Spring Break

That’s right, boys and girls; it’s that time of year again. It’s the week you waited for all semester. You have pulled many all nighters and crammed for exams. You have submitted your 7 page papers three minutes before the midnight deadline and passed (hopefully) your midterms. Now it’s time for some relaxation, that’s right, everybody; SPRING BREAK IS HERE! Spring break to most of us is a time for relaxation, time to go home see your family, time for a little traveling, and of course time for a little partying. With most parties, there are the majority who just want to relax, drink and have a good time. However, every party has its pooper, and there are those that take it to another level and end up sick, hospitalized, drugged and/or injured. From my experience the last few years - here’s your pocket list of DO’s And Don’ts for spring break.

  • As always, if you drink (obviously if you are over 21), DO NOT DRIVE!  Funerals we’ve been to are real downers.
  • Do not take drinks from someone else! If you’re at spring break and drinking, you probably are not new to this and you know the realities of someone slipping something  into your drink.
  • If you are having any sexual contact, USE A CONDOM! Remember STD’s can be transferred through oral sex as well.
  • Many of the spring break spots are located on beaches.  Do not drink and swim.  IF you are drinking on the beach, make sure you are also drinking water, since both alcohol and the sun dehydrate you.
  • Be alert. While you may be responsible, that does not mean that others are acting responsibly. Look out for drunk drivers and potentially belligerent and violent drunks.
  • Have a buddy with you at all times.
  • Stay off balconies. Falling from balconies is known to be one of the leading causes of injuries and deaths at spring breaks.

Have fun. Be “Spring Break” Happy.