Speaker: Alcoholics not only one with drinking issues

By Gus Bode

Lawson Hall resonated with laughter Tuesday when Ken Culton asked how many people drank before attending his discussion on alcohol.

The room fell silent shortly after as he explained that 1,700 college students would die this year in alcohol-related events.

Culton, an SIUC Wellness Center coordinator and clinical counselor, spoke to a group of more than 100 SIUC fraternity and sorority members as part of National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, which started Monday and ends Friday. Sigma Alpha sorority sponsored the speech.


Culton spoke of alcohol’s effects on students and their education, their social life and their future. He explained that alcohol issues do not just pertain to alcoholics.

Social drinkers should be concerned, too.

“Alcohol can take your life to a bad place, even if you’re not an alcoholic,” Culton said.

He shared a story of an SIUC student who tripped over a cement parking block while walking home and ended up with a compound fracture in her wrist and a broken jaw. Culton said the student was in intensive care for three weeks, all because she had a few shots at a local bar.

Culton said a student’s grades could also suffer greatly because of alcohol.

More than 170,000 college students drop out of school each year because of alcohol, although some attribute dropping out to other issues such as a large workload or loneliness, Culton said.

He said it is all a part of a “ripple effect,” such as Sunday night drinking leading to missing class Monday and then not doing well on an exam later in the week.


Culton also spoke of short-term and long-term effects of alcohol as well as alcohol poisoning that occur among university students. He said students should not hesitate to evaluate the use of alcohol among themselves or their friends because an evaluation now may save their life later.

Culton said he was glad to have the opportunity to speak to the greek students alone.

“I’m not saying that greek students have a greater problem than the general student population, but I believe they recognize the potential risks of Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in Carbondale,” Culton said.

Suzanna Gapa, a senior from Oswego studying foods and nutrition and a member of Sigma Alpha, said Culton’s student-focused approach was effective.

“I like how he used examples to relate to us,” Gapa said.

Alexis Boudreau can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 255 or [email protected].