TAKING CARE OF OURSELVES
Alcohol and Other Drugs
“It is not wise to wait until every ‘i’ is dotted and ‘t’ is crossed to decide how to live healthier. You should be basing your lifestyle on the best available medical knowledge, which says to eat a low fat diet and exercise daily. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol use and you are likely to achieve your goal. Establish the philosophy of the Ancient Greeks: To die young as late in life as possible.”
— Jane E. Brody, College of Ag & Life Science ‘62
Every single day we are forced to make decisions that affect both our physical and emotional well-being. Some of these decisions involve serious thought and consideration, while others are practically unconscious. This chapter details some information that might assist us in making positive decisions regarding nutrition, exercise, substance use, and stress. Problems such as eating disorders, depression, drug and alcohol dependencies, and suicide are also discussed. While problems such as these may not have a direct effect on each individual, it is important to understand these problems so we may help others who are dealing with them. By taking good care of ourselves, we have the power to enhance our quality of life and, ultimately, to get the most out of our college experience.
Eating right at Cornell can be quite a challenge. Meals are always at odd times, or there may not be time at all. With the help of the Food Guide Pyramid published by the USDA, we can make our best daily food choices to keep us full of energy and in good health. The Pyramid translates the Dietary Guidelines for America into practical eating advice. It is a flexible guide, meant to suit any age, lifestyle, need, or preference.
The Food Guide Pyramid is made up of five food groups and the Pyramid tip.
The Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta Group:
These foods are made from grains and add fiber, complex carbohydrates, and a variety of B vitamins to the diet. Many of these foods are naturally low in fat.
The Fruit and Vegetable Groups:
These characteristically low-fat foods contain Vitamin A and Vitamin C as well as numerous other nutrients.
The Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese Group:
Dairy products offer calcium, protein, and riboflavin. Some of these products are high in fat, while others can be bought in low-fat forms.
The Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts Group:
These foods are mostly of animal origin, but some plants can offer the same benefits. This group provides protein, iron, and zinc. Some of these items contain more fat than others.
The Pyramid Tip:
The tip contains fats, oils, and sweets. These foods should be eaten in very small amounts. Items such as salad dressing, margarine, and soft drinks are included in this group.
There are small circles and triangles scattered throughout the Pyramid that represent fat and sugars, respectively, that are either added to the foods or are naturally present. While each food group contains some sugars, fats, or both, the tip contains the most, which is why moderation is highly encouraged. It is also important to remember that while each group provides many nutrients, no one group provides them all. Each group is unique; one group cannot replace another.
The Food Guide Pyramid recommends the number of servings to be eaten from each category every day in order to maintain a healthy diet. The number of servings you consume depends on your sex and personal level of activity. Follow this chart to determine how much of each group you should consume:
Average Women Children Teenage boys
Older Adults Teenage Girls Active Men
Bread Group 6 9 11
Vegetable Group 3 4 5
Fruit Group 2 3 4
Milk Group 2-3 2-3 2-3
Meat Group 1 1 1
Now, you may ask, how big is a serving? Well, it depends on the type of food you are about to eat.
Food Group Serving Size
Bread, Cereal, Rice, 1 slice of bread
and Pasta 1/2 hamburger bun, bagel, or English muffin
1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal
1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta
1/2 cup cooked cereal
1 ounce pretzels
Vegetable 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables
1/2 cup cooked vegetables
1/2 cup chopped vegetables
3/4 cup vegetable juice
Fruit 1 medium piece of fruit
1/2 cup berries or sliced fruit
1/2 cup canned or cooked fruit
3/4 cup of fruit juice
Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese 1 cup milk
1 cup yogurt
1 1/2 ounces natural cheese
2 ounces processed cheese
Meat, Poultry, Fish, 5-7 ounces cooked lean meat or Dry Beans, Eggs, skinless poultry
and Nuts 1 egg
1/3 cup nuts
1/2 cup cooked dry beans
According to the Pyramid, there are three basic guidelines to follow in order to sustain a healthy diet:
1. Variety: Choose foods from all five food groups to get maximum nutrients.
2. Balance: Get enough servings from the five food groups to match your personal calorie and nutrient needs. Balance food choices over several meals, not just one meal.
3. Moderation: Make sure you get enough, but not too much, oils, fats, and sweets.
By understanding the basics of the Food Guide Pyramid, we’re on our way to healthy eating with lots of options. Whether at the dining hall, supermarket, or vending machine, we’re empowered to make the decisions that will treat our bodies best.
Elements of the Diet
Did you know that a woman’s bone mass peaks at age 35, after which she tends to lose about 1 percent of bone mass every year? Calcium, vitamins C and D, and exercise NOW can help you keep your bones in shape for later! (Our Bodies, Ourselves)
The scope of human nutrition extends far beyond the classical study of the physiological and biochemical processes involved in nourishment. Human nutrition has come to include all the effects that food has on human function and its relation to chronic disease, athletic performance, resistance to infection, and fetal health and development.
Carbohydrates are probably the most abundant and widespread organic substance in nature and are an essential constituent to all living things.
• serves as body’s main source of energy and vital structural
• serves as part of the structure of nucleic acids which contain
• necessary for the utilization of the other macronutrients
• provides necessary glucose for brain functions
Sources: cereals, grains, breads, fruits, vegetables, milk, honey, syrups
Proteins are fundamental to life. Some serve as structural materials, acting as a major constituent of cellular membranes and the principal component of skin. Other proteins, such as antibodies, provide defense against invading destructive forces. Still others, the enzymes, are essential catalysts that accelerate thousands of complex chemical reactions that are necessary for sustaining life.
• structural, fibrous proteins are involved in maintenance of either a rigid or flexible structure (collagen—>bone, tendons, ligaments, and skin)
• fibrinogen and fibrin are involved in the clotting process
• immunoglobins and antibodies combat foreign substances in
• enzymes are catalytic proteins that accelerate reaction rates
Sources: meats, dairy, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, poultry, eggs, grains, beans, tofu, vegetables
Fats are important because they give us long-time reserve energy stores. On a weight basis, fats contain more than twice as much energy (and twice as many calories) as carbohydrates and proteins. Lipids made by fat cells serve as an energy source but also form structural components.
• growth, healthy skin
• normal functioning of all tissues
• immune functions
• adequate composition of biomembranes
• insulation and protection for organs and body structures
• facilitate the absorption of essential fat-soluble vitamins (A,
D, E, K)
Sources: dairy products, meats, oils, nuts
Water is the most vital nutrient of any diet. Unfortunately, very few people realize the importance that water holds within the body’s system. Without water we would not be able to survive. Why is water so important? Fifty-five to sixty five percent of the female body is composed of water. Every single living cell in our bodies is composed of water, surrounded by water, and entirely dependent on water. The average adult body contains 45 to 50 quarts of water. That’s around 14 gallons!
Knowing this, it is easy to understand why we need to consume so much water. Experts recommend eight glasses (eight ounces each) of water a day. Many people will comment that they have remained healthy without drinking eight glasses of water a day. However, the water you need in your diet can come in many different forms. Many fruits and vegetables have a high water content, as do juices and other drinks. Water is gained from consuming these foods; however, these alone cannot provide the amount of water that your body needs.
• carries out cell functions
• transports nutrients and oxygen to cells
• removes waste (essential to digestion, absorption, and elimi
• cools body though loss of water (perspiration)
• provides cushion for tissues
• protects growing fetus
• lubricates joints of the body
Along with the excitement of coming to Cornell, many people fear the “freshman fifteen.” However, we can modify or maintain our weight as we like by making healthy choices. Most new students opt to eat in dining halls, which can be quite overwhelming and tempting at first. Just keep in mind what your body needs are, and you’ll be able to make the right choices.
In addition to the dining halls, vending machines provide a quick place to pick up snacks. There are over 100 vending machines on campus! This makes it very convenient to grab chips, candy, or soda when in need of an energy boost; however, most snack foods from vending machines contain 35-40% calories from fat and lots of sugar and salt. Instead of using vending machines, you may want to take a piece of fruit from the dining halls for a snack. In general, try to limit the use of vending machines; when you do opt to use them, be sure to choose wisely. Being conscious of the foods you eat, eating a balanced diet, and choosing healthy alternatives for snacks are the first steps to a healthier lifestyle.
Being a vegetarian in Ithaca is very easy. Being a vegetarian at Cornell is a different story. The food selection for vegetarians at on-campus dining facilities has gotten quite better over the years, thankfully. Meals at Jansen’s my freshman year were somewhat of a challenge. Though a vegetarian option was available at most meals, the food selection became very repetitive. Cooking for myself posed another challenge, as I tried to maintain a balanced diet and cook healthy meals on limited time.
---Arts & Sciences, ‘02
Vegetarianism has become increasingly popular in the past decade and is one of the largest categories of alternative diets. People choose to become vegetarians for various reasons. Often, the reasons are related to ethics—respect for animals and concern for the environment—or health. Sometimes, the choice to become vegetarian is out of convenience, since meat is difficult to prepare. In other instances, a meatless diet is necessitated by financial restraints. Whatever the reason for becoming vegetarian, it is essential for all vegetarians, especially women, to be aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy balance of nutrients.
Some vegetarians only cut meat out of their diets and still continue to eat fish, eggs, and dairy products. Lacto-ovo vegetarians won’t eat fish and meat, but they will consume eggs and dairy products. Vegans stick to a strict diet of plant products: beans, legumes, and grains. The varying degrees of vegetarianism indicate that individuals must be aware of special considerations when following their chosen diet.
Vegetarians need to be especially conscious of including: protein, calcium, B12, iron, zinc, and riboflavin in their diet. Protein from animal sources provides the most complete and most varied amino acids, but plant sources of protein can also provide the amino acids that one needs, if consumed carefully. For example, combinations of certain protein-rich foods will effectively provide the required amino acids. Iron and zinc, calcium, B12, and riboflavin are slightly more difficult to obtain. Dairy products and soy products, like tempeh and miso, are rich in these nutrients and can serve to provide an adequate amount of nutrients that otherwise may be missed.
Some staple items for the vegetarian diet include:
1. fresh produce—especially green, leafy vegetables
2. legumes: peas, beans, lentils
3. grains, including rice and pasta
4. tofu and other soy products
5. nuts and seeds
6. (dairy products and eggs)
Fortunately, Ithaca is a wonderful place for vegetarians, and Cornell also does its share to accommodate. For example, the famous Moosewood Restaurant is located in Ithaca. There are also many restaurants located right in Collegetown, like the ABC Café, that offer a variety of vegetarian dishes. For co-op meal plan participants, Cornell dining halls all offer at least one vegetarian entree at each meal, plus usual staples: salad bars, pasta bars, and stir fry. Vegan entrees are also available upon request.
Kate Moss is 5’7" I’m 5’7" Kate Moss weighs ninety-eight
pounds NINETY-EIGHT POUNDS I’m fat fat FAT maybe if I starve myself just for a week my thighs will be thin
BEAUTIFUL I want to be beautiful and INVISIBLE I want
girls who have never met me to hate me at first sight I
want to puke at first bite I want to be so thin that guys
won’t want to fuck me— they’ll have to find in my bony
frame something they actually LIKE — something
that has NOTHING to do with sex I want to be SEXLESS
I’m not hungry I’m not hungry I’m not hungry.
—Lauren Wheeler, Arts & Sciences ‘98
Women who suffer from eating disorders can usually be characterized as high achievers or “model children” who tend to be intelligent and perfectionists. It is speculated that anorexic women may be struggling to gain control over their bodies and lifestyles, which is often hard in a culture which places unrealistic expectations on young women and their bodies. Women with eating disorders seem to exaggerate the common behavioral and psychological affects of our society’s contradictory messages. Although there are times when anorexia and bulimia affect the same individual, the disorders have important differing characteristics.
Last year I was in a support group for girls with eating disorders. The group consisted of eight women who were students at Cornell. I was shocked to learn that on the outside these women seemed perfect. They were smart; they were athletic; they were artists; they were beautiful. At first it was comforting to know that. I wasn’t alone. But then it made me extremely sad to realize that in our world, everyone is susceptible to this disease.
—Arts and Sciences ‘00
Anorexia is an all-consuming and life-threatening disorder which is most prevalent among teenage women (and some men, especially athletes). The female to male ratio for eating disorders is 10:1; one out of every one hundred women are likely to become anorexic. Although anorexia may start from normal attempts at dieting, anorexic women become obsessed with losing weight and shaping their bodies to an image which can never really be attained. Most anorexics do not recognize their actual bodies in the mirror; this suggests that the figure they desire can never be embodied in their reflection. The anorexic woman is preoccupied with food and has an irrational fear of becoming fat. Although she starves herself, she will deny her hunger, that she may have a problem, and that she is too thin.
Behavioral Signs of Anorexia:
• Fluctuating body weight: usually 15 to 20% loss of normal body weight
• Preoccupation with food and/or dieting
• Distorted body image
• Unusual dining rituals which emphasize an attempt to control amount of food intake
• Compulsive exercise
• Use of laxatives and/or diuretics
• Social isolation
• Amplified feelings of insecurity, loneliness, and helpless ness
It should be taken into consideration that some of these behaviors are normal for brief periods of time. For example, many of us have felt fat and uncomfortable with our bodies at one point or another. Perhaps during that time dieting and exercise were a very serious concern. However, there is a very definite distinction between a normal attitude of concern about body image and the characteristic obsession with weight control that is characteristic of eating disorders.
Physical Symptoms of Anorexia:
• Unusual thinness
• Loss of menstrual period
• Loss of hair on head
• Sensations of coldness, particularly in the extremities
• Low heart rate
• Low blood pressure
• Decreased metabolic rate
• Dizziness, weakness, and fainting spells
I used to walk home from classes and play this game with myself. I’d count how many girls that I passed were thinner than me. If no one was skinnier, then I wouldn’t have to puke my guts out that night. Funny how I always lost that game.
Bulimia is characterized by cycles of uncontrolled binge eating (eating large amounts of food in short periods of time) followed by purging through vomiting or the use of laxatives. About twenty out of one hundred college age women may become bulimic, which is a frighteningly high statistic. Although bulimics may begin a cycle of relatively infrequent purges, they become addicted to the pattern and it can begin to absorb nearly all of their time, energy, and money. The bulimic believes she will feel good about herself by purging, but she only succeeds in making herself feel worse and incurring serious health risks.
Behavioral Signs of Bulimia:
• Bingeing on high calorie food
• Secret eating
• Binges followed by stomach pains or vomiting
• Weight fluctuations
• Feeling out of control after eating
• Low self esteem
• Hypersensitivity to criticism
• Self isolation
• Lacking the language to express feelings of emptiness, worthlessness, and hopelessness
Again it should be noted that, as with anorexia, some of these behaviors and feelings are normal on occasion. It is considered a disorder if these characteristic signs become constant and consuming in the person’s everyday life.
Health Risks and Physical Symptoms of Bulimia:
• Chronically inflamed throat
• Salivary gland enlargement
• Tooth and gum decay
• Irregular menstrual cycle
• Internal bleeding
• Intestinal infection
• Kidney damage
• Swollen face, red eyes, and runny nose
• Raw knuckles
Although friends and relatives may recognize that a person has a problem, only the person with the eating disorder can initiate treatment by first admitting to herself and then to a health care professional that she needs help. Medical and psychological help should be sought from clinicians experienced in eating disorders. Eating disorders appear to be a dieting or nutritional problem but more often reflect psychological conflicts. Therapy provides the immediate benefit of assuring the anorexic or bulimic woman that she is not alone and that her life does not need to be a secret. Nutritional education along with psychotherapy can be an effective path to recovery.
How to Help Someone Who Has an Eating Disorder:
The most important thing for friends to know is that food has nothing to do with eating disorders.
--- Human Ecology, ‘99
• Do not nag the person about eating habits and do not assume the role of monitor. People with eating disorders are already self-conscious about their eating habits and will only become more secretive and isolated by intrusive behavior.
• Be supportive and approach her gently. Be persistent, but try to listen to her. She is a person first, one with an eating disorder second.
• Encourage her to get help by giving her resources for medication, psychotherapy, and nutritional education.
• Do not let yourself be convinced that the person does not have a problem. The problem exists, and she can fully recover with help.
• Do not deal with it alone. Confide in a trusted friend, a member of her family, or health professionals at Gannett.
Take care of yourself! No one else will.
— Ag and Life Science ’97
A key component to optimal health is exercise. For an individual seeking good health, exercise is as important as nutrition and sleep. Exercise need not be formal; anything that gets our bodies up and moving is considered physical activity. For those of us looking to lose, maintain, or gain weight, exercise has a role in our daily lives.
People who engage in regular physical activity add many benefits to their lives, including improved mental outlook, improved self-image and self confidence, improved circulation, reduction or elimination of menstrual cramps, increased resistance to colds and infections, sound sleep, and a feeling of vigor — all the necessities for life at Cornell! Although not everyone attains all the benefits listed, every active individual reaps at least some of them. Exercise can help us meet the demands of Cornell life.
Exercise need not be a structured activity. All that is recommended is a minimum of 20 minutes of sustained aerobic activity three to five times per week. Exercise can be built into class schedules, too. Consider saving the dollar it costs to ride the bus and put on a comfortable pair of walking shoes. It may seem unbelievable that this could compare with a set exercise program, but it can be just as beneficial. For example, a twenty-five minute walk from North Campus to the Veterinary School is the same as a structured walk after classes, yet saves time and gets you where you’re going. Another easy exercise adjustment is to take the stairs instead of the elevator.
In addition to these easy substitutions in your daily life, there are always the structured activities available both on and off campus (see On Campus and Off Campus activity sections). The following is a list of activities that you might enjoy doing to get exercise and feel good. You are encouraged to add your own activities to this list.
•Aerobic Dance •Basketball •Bicycling
•Canoeing •Cross Country Skiing
•Field Hockey •Football •Golf •Handball •Horseback Riding •Jump Rope •Paddleboating •Ping-Pong •Raquetball
•Rowing •Running •Soccer
•Softball •Swimming •Tennis
The activities mentioned above are beneficial for anyone regardless of exercise goals. For people who are looking to lose weight, exercise is a great way to burn calories. We burn calories while exercising and consequently burn more calories during sedentary activities as well. With an increase in lean tissue, metabolism increases since muscle burns more calories than fat. The increase in metabolism means it will be easier to lose weight, should you choose to do so. (Note that not everyone wants to lose or gain weight for self-image purposes.) For each pound of weight you plan to lose, you must burn off 3500 more calories than you consume. A reasonable weight loss goal is one to two pounds each week. For those who are interested in weight maintenance, exercise, in addition to a balanced diet, is a method of warding off those excess pounds.
Even though exercise is usually thought of as a method for losing weight, it is also a good idea for those looking to gain weight. The type of exercises profitable to complement an increased caloric intake include resistance training or weight lifting. These activities will aid in gaining muscle weight instead of fat.
No matter what goal you have in mind, everyone can benefit from exercise and physical activity. By choosing an activity that suits your personality, you will be on your way to achieving better health and a more positive outlook on life. Exercise is something that every Cornell student should not go without, since it helps us meet the everyday demands of college life.
Exercise Opportunities on Campus
One of the motivating factors for joining the gym freshman year was the convenience - the gym for West Campus was located in my dorm. I worked out freshman year more than I did subsequent years. Finding the time to exercise when you’ve got school, work, and extracurriculars can sometimes be aggravating, but exercise can be such a release from the stresses of life that it’s worth it to find the time.
---Arts & Sciences, ‘02
Without ever stepping foot off campus, we can access an amazing array of athletic facilities and classes. Everyone is required to take two semesters of physical education or the equivalent. Fulfilling this obligation is rarely a chore when we have such a wide variety of activities. In fact, many students who have already fulfilled their requirements continue to take phys ed classes non-credit.
Most people agree that the phys ed opportunities here are incredible. Classes include :
• Personal Growth • Dance • Aerobics
-massage -country line -low impact
-body-mind -African -high impact
-expanding intuition -Indian -water
-meditation -ballet -step
stress management -ballroom
-yoga -modern • Archery
-jazz • Equitation
• Martial Arts/Self defense • Racquet Sports • Team Sports
-self-defense for women -badminton -lacrosse
-boxing -tennis -basketball
-judo -squash -ice hockey
-karate -racquetball -soccer
-kung fu -team handball
-Pa Tuan Chin •First Aid -volleyball
-Taekwondo -life guarding
-Tai Chi Chuan -water safety
• Ice Skating • Swimming • Diving
• Fencing • Firearms • Rock Climbing
• Fitness • Skiing • Conditioning
• Nautilus • Sailing • Fly Fishing
• Golf • Olympic weight training
• Gymnastics • Universal weight training
The physical education department is located in Teagle Hall (255-4286). Stop by for a complete, up-to-date listing of classes and schedules.
Cornell also has a wonderful Outdoor Education Program. They offer classes such as caving, rock climbing, hiking, paddling, biking, and skiing. For more information, contact the Outdoor Ed. office (255-6415).
Taking a rock climbing class through Cornell Outdoor Education was not only fun, but a strengthening experience for me as well. It taught me that I could try something new and succeed at it; something that was for me alone. And I learned how great it feels to touch the ceiling.
—Arts & Sciences ‘98
Cornell Wellness program (255-3886), in Helen Newman Hall on North Campus, offers a variety of services (which require a semester fee), from stairmasters and treadmills to an excellent variety of aerobics classes. Different package deals are available.
Another popular, on-campus activity that involves new people and good workouts is the intramural program. There are many teams; students can sign up as a free agent and join another team. Sign-ups are at the beginning of the semester, so look for advertising or call 255-2315 for more information.
Here is an abbreviated list of the facilities on campus:
Teagle Hall (5-1318): two pools, weight-lifting rooms, steam room
Grumman Squash Courts (5-1318)
Helen Newman Hall (5-5133): pool, dance studio, bowling alleys, open gym, Universal weight room
Equestrian Center (5-3625): Pine Tree Road
Barton Hall (5-7775): indoor track, open gym
Lynah Rink (5-4171): skating
Schoelkopf (5-4713): Nautilus weight room
Reis Tennis Center (5-2932): indoor tennis
note: there are also open tennis courts next to Risley Hall, Helen Newman Hall,and in the woods behind the baseball field
Field House (5-4115): phys ed classes
*inside: Lindseth climbing wall (5-1807), known as one of the foremost facilities IN THE WORLD for rock climbing training and education.
Robert Trent Jones golf course (257-3661)
Exercise Opportunities: Off Campus
---Greek Peak (1-800-955-2SKI), near Cortland on Rt. 392
---Song Mountain (1-800-677-SONG), 45 min. away in Tully, NY
---Labrador Mountain (1-800-446-9559), 45 min. Rt. 13 to Rt. 91
---Cass Park (273-9211) on the west side of Lake Cayuga: ice skating in the winter and roller skating in the summer
---The Rink (277-RINK (7465)), 1767 E.
Shore Drive, Ithaca, NY
---Cass Park (273-9211), outdoor Olympic size pool
---Taughannock Falls State Park: North Rt. 89, on the west side of Cayuga Lake
---Buttermilk Falls State Park: South of Ithaca on Rt. 13
---City Health Club (273-8300), 482 W. Green St., Ithaca
---Courtside Racquet and Fitness Club (277-0200), 16 Judd Falls Rd.
---Ithaca Fitness Center (272-8779), 119 Third St.
---Far Country Ranch (898-3186), Locke, NY
---Agape Institute for Movement Studies (272-1458)
overall fitness, aerobic boxing to Kung Fu, self-defense
---Ithaca Harmony with Nature Karate (273-8980), 120 E. King Rd. Ithaca Karate also offers women’s self-defense
---Cascadilla Boat Club (273-1167), Stewart Park
Getting exercise will never be as easy as it is here in naturally beautiful Ithaca. There’s no excuse: sign up for something today, or grab a friend and try something new. Have fun!
Did you know that women make up 1/3 of the alcoholics in the US?
For many college students, alcohol has become an integral part of the social scene. Cornell is not excluded from this rule. A need to escape the rigorous academic demands of school, the desire to feel more relaxed in unfamiliar social situations, the freedom from parental monitoring, and alcohol’s easy accessibility all contribute to its prevalence in college. Small amounts of slowly consumed alcohol in social situations is fairly safe and may even lower the risk of heart attack, lessen the effects of circulatory problems, and control high blood pressure.
However, we need to avoid rapidly consuming large quantities of alcohol with the intention of getting drunk; a slew of serious physiological, sexual, and emotional issues accompany excessive drinking patterns. Even social drinking has its risks; it is dangerous to become dependent on alcohol to have a good time because we run the risk of forgetting how to enjoy ourselves and feel comfortable in social situations without it.
Moreover, women in particular, need to be prepared when entering situations involving alcohol, since many incidents of sexual assault resist our good judgment when we are intoxicated.
Due to our physiology, women in general are particularly affected by alcohol. When we’re intoxicated, our judgment and ability to protect ourselves in threatening situations may become impaired.
From the moment alcohol is ingested, the liver and a cohort of enzymes begin to break it down in an attempt to protect the body from its poisonous effects. The disposal process is a slow one. Black coffee, fresh air, and cold showers will do nothing to speed up the process; only time will work. In other words, the rate at which the body rids itself of alcohol cannot be altered. It takes about an hour to metabolize the alcohol in 1 oz. spirits (1 shot) = 1 beer = 1 glass of wine = 9 oz. wine cooler. However, the amount of alcohol and the rate at which it enters the bloodstream depends on a variety of physiological factors. The more alcohol in the bloodstream, the higher the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and the more intoxicated we become.
An empty stomach allows alcohol to pass unrestricted from the stomach to the small intestine and then into the bloodstream. A full stomach is one of the best ways to slow down the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream. Proteins and fats are especially good for pre-alcohol meals; they take time to digest and therefore provide extensive protection.
When alcohol is consumed, it diffuses into body water, which dilutes the alcohol and helps reduce its potency. Muscle tissue contains more water than fat tissue. Therefore, women, who naturally have more fat tissue than do men, have a decreased water level. If a man and woman of comparable weight were to drink the same quantity of alcohol, the woman would have a higher BAC than the man, generally speaking.
When you drink too much, you lose your sense of good judgment. You may not care what you’re doing at the time, but you will regret it in the morning.
— Human Ecology ’97
The fluctuation of hormonal levels during the menstrual cycle also affects the rate at which women metabolize alcohol. Women who are ovulating, menstruating, or are on the Pill experience increased sensitivity to alcohol. This is because the rate at which alcohol is metabolized under these conditions is at a minimum. In addition, heavy regular drinking can lead to several menstrual and reproductive problems: painful menstruation, heavy menstrual flow, premenstrual discomfort, irregular or absent cycles, premature menopause, and infertility. Women who drink also have a high risk of still births, miscarriages, and giving birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome and birth defects.
Women who drink moderately have 40-100% greater risk of getting breast cancer than those who don’t drink. Alcohol increases the level of estrogen in the bloodstream by up to 32%. Increased levels of estrogen have been linked to increasing our risk for developing breast cancer.
Alcohol is a toxin. Therefore, when alcohol is in the body, the liver devotes most of its energy to clearing it out. This results in the liver temporarily abandoning its other important functions, such as maintaining stable blood levels of glucose in the brain. Women are more susceptible to liver damage due to alcohol consumption than men, due to their increased likelihood of having a higher BAC.
Alcohol causes an increase in the secretion of digestive acids. This tends to result in the irritation of the stomach lining which often leads to nausea and vomiting. Stomach irritation and ulcers are common among regular, heavy drinkers. Women have diminished levels of gastric alcohol dehydrogenase compared to men. Consequently, less alcohol is metabolized in the stomach, leaving more available to enter the bloodstream.
Alcohol is a Central Nervous System (CNS) depressant. Most people falsely classify alcohol as a stimulant because of the loss of inhibition that usually accompanies the drunken state. In reality, these features result because the alcohol depresses one’s self-control. Alcohol depresses virtually all brain activity. The final result is slurred speech, hazy thinking, slowed reaction time, dulled hearing, impaired vision, weakened muscles, and fogged memory.
From this description it becomes obvious why drinking and driving are seriously discouraged (and highly illegal). Anyone who has not given themselves the time necessary to metabolize the alcohol which they have consumed should not be driving. Individuals who drink often (i.e., every weekend) become numb to the physiological and other effects alcohol has on the body and begin to notice its effects less and less. This does not mean that the alcohol has not impaired and depressed activities controlled by your CNS. It just means women and men with high “tolerance” are not as in tune to these changes as they were initially. Therefore, ability to drive can only be determined by measuring the time between the last drink consumed and the time of departure, NOT by how capable we might feel. Since underage drinking (under the age of 21) is illegal in New York State, underage drinking plus driving under the influence are extremely serious offenses.
Alcohol depletes the store of vitamins already in the body and reduces the absorption of new ones. Long term depletion of B vitamins, vitamin A, and vitamin C can result in one or more of the following conditions: impairment of the heart, liver, and other organs, damage to muscles and nervous tissue, anemia, reduction of disease resistance, impairment of vision, over stimulation of the adrenal gland, and beriberi, a disease characterized by severe nerve degradation.
I came to Cornell as someone who wasn’t that much of a drinker, but I didn’t quite leave that way. I usually fit into the category of most Cornell students who drink 0-3 drinks, though not always. Ironically, I think I drank less after I turned 21 - I’m not sure if the novelty had worn out by then or what.
---Arts & Sciences, ‘02
Many drinkers do not realize that alcohol presents a paradox when it comes to sexual activity. On the one hand, alcohol reduces the inhibitions and some of the stress that accompanies making decisions about sex. In addition, for women, alcohol acts as an aphrodisiac by stimulating the production of sex hormones. On the other hand, alcohol decreases the ability for both men and women to have satisfying sex. Alcohol dehydrates the mucous membranes that lubricate the vagina, thereby making penetration more painful. In addition, women under the influence often have more difficulty reaching an orgasm, while men have difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection.
Alcohol impairs judgment and reduces one’s ability to make healthy choices. This impairment often adversely affects decisions regarding ‘safer sex’. This puts both partners at risk for HIV, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and unwanted pregnancy. Women and men who report a history of STIs are significantly more likely to have a history of problem drinking.
Alcohol greatly increases the chance that a rape will occur. It is estimated that 55% of women and 75% of men involved in acquaintance rape are under the influence of alcohol. The impaired judgment which results from alcohol consumption increases the likelihood that a woman will find herself in a potentially dangerous situation. In addition, communication is often impaired; the man might be too drunk to understand or to pay attention to the woman’s verbal and physical signals, while the woman might be too drunk to give these signals.
It is important to realize that, under New York State law, a woman who drank too much may be considered “unable to consent” to sexual activity because of the altered state alcohol leaves on mind and body.
Persons who are suffering emotionally often use alcohol as a means to escape their painful reality. Depression and stress are commonly thought to be relieved or reduced by alcohol. However, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and therefore can make the pain far worse. Resorting to alcohol also creates more problems in the long run and does nothing to solve the problem at hand.
Women are 50% more likely than men to be taking other prescription drugs, such as amphetamines, anti-depressants, and anxiety reducing drugs. Many of these drugs have adverse effects when combined with alcohol; they can either enhance or decrease the strength of the medication, increase the effects of alcohol, or produce toxic reactions.
Although recent findings have found evidence for a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, no one is excluded from the effects of heavy regular drinking. It is therefore important to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of the disease so that you will be able to diagnose yourself and those around you. Female alcoholics often conceal the disease longer than males. Therefore, be especially aware of the drinking patterns of women. The American College Health Association offers the following distinctions:
A Social Drinker
• Drinks slowly
• Knows when to stop drinking
• Eats before or while drinking
• Never drives after drinking
• Respects nondrinkers
• Knows and obeys laws related to drinking
A Problem Drinker
• Drinks to get drunk
• Tries to solve problems by drinking
• Experiences personality changes when under the influence
• Drinks when she or he should not- before driving or going to
• Causes harm to others or her/himself
• Drinks alone
• Denies drinking
• Frequently experiences “blackouts” (memory loss) and
• Needs to drink before a stressful situation
• Has inability to drink in moderation
• Feels bored, upset, or tense if not drinking
Self Test: Questions for Women About Alcohol Use
If you or a friend are questioning your drinking patterns, Gannett recommends taking this quick test:
Do you drink when you feel depressed hoping that it will make you feel better?
Do you regularly use alcohol as medicine - to relieve menstrual cramps, help you sleep, or calm your nerves?
Do you feel sociable only when you drink?
Do you drink when you are under pressure or after an argument?
Do you try to get someone to buy you alcohol because you are too ashamed to buy it yourself?
Do you hide the empty bottles or cans and dispose of them secretly?
Do you buy liquor at different places so that no one will know how much you purchase?
Do you plan in advance to reward yourself with several drinks after you’ve worked hard?
Do you ever have blackouts- periods about which you remember nothing?
Do you ever wonder if anyone knows how much you drink?
Do you ever carry liquor in your purse or backpack?
Do you worry about hurting someone when you have been drinking?
Do you drink to make your partner less angry at you?
If you only drink occasionally, do you have a lot of drinks at one time?
Do you drink more when you have been emotionally or physically abused?
Do you feel panicky when you are faced with non-drinking periods of time or when you are without money to buy alcohol?
Do you become defensive when anyone mentions your drinking?
Do you try to cover up when you cannot remember promises and feel ashamed when you misplace or lose things?
Do you ever operate your car or machinery after you’ve been drinking?
Do you ever take sleeping pills or tranquilizers together with alcohol?
Do you ever make sexual decisions that you later regret after drinking alcohol?
Do you ever use alcohol to have or to avoid sexual activity?
Do you think that drinks at home are OK but drinks in a bar are not, or vice versa?
Have you fallen down or hurt yourself as a result of drinking?
Are you absent or late for work or school more often after you drink?
Do you ever suffer from indigestion, nausea, or diarrhea due to drinking?
If you have answered “yes” or “sometimes” to two or more of these questions you could be developing an alcohol problem. Talk with a professional in the alcohol and drug field or consult your doctor about ways in which you can help escape your dependence on alcohol. Resources are listed at the end of this chapter.
Gannett recommends the following:
If someone you are with has had too much to drink, get immediate medical help if a person:
• Has passed out and cannot be aroused by shouting or shaking
• Has shallow or irregular breathing
• Has mixed alcohol with other drugs
• Is injured or collapsed after drinking
• Is engaged in unpredictable, violent, or highly risky behavior
• Is talking of suicide, self-injury, or hurting another person
If you are sure medical attention is not required, but are not positive that this individual is out of danger:
• Do not leave the person alone until you are sure that they are
out of danger
• Do not try to walk or exercise the person
• Do not give the person any food, drink, or medication because this might induce vomiting
• Do not give the person a cold shower; the shock might cause
her/him to pass out
• Do not permit her/him to drive
If the intoxicated person is sleeping:
• Check regularly for breathing and consciousness
• Make sure the person is on her/his side with bent knees; this
will prevent choking should the person vomit
• If the person vomits ensure that she/he does not swallow or
breathe in the vomit; get immediate help if the person gags on
If the intoxicated person is aggressive or angry:
• Protect yourself and others from physical harm
• Approach the person calmly and reassuringly but firmly
• Explain anything you are planning to do before you do it
• Do not laugh, ridicule, provoke, threaten, or argue with the
• Do not attempt to restrain the person
• If the person becomes too rowdy, uncontrollable, or violent,
call the Cornell Police to intervene for you.
Medical Amnesty Protocol (MAP):
To encourage people to seek medical attention in the case of emergencies, Cornell has instituted a Medical Amnesty Protocol. If an individual who receives emergency medical attention related to the consumption of alcohol completes a designated intervention at Gannett, he or she will not be subject to judicial action should the Code violations of underage possession of alcohol and disorderly conduct occur at the time of emergency.
The individual receiving amnesty will not be required to meet with the Judicial Administrator, will not be required to pay for Gannett’s services, and will receive a warning rather than a written reprimand. A person is eligible for medical amnesty on more than one occasion.
An individual who calls for emergency assistance on behalf of a person experiencing an alcohol-related emergency will not be subject to judicial action for the following Code violations in relation to the incident: underage possession of alcohol, provision of alcohol to an underage person, and/or disorderly conduct.
More information on the medical amnesty program can be found at www.medical-amnesty.cornell.edu.
While alcohol is by far the most frequently and commonly used drug by college students, it is certainly not the only one. It is, however, the only legal one (that is, if you are 21). This section includes a discussion of the most frequently and commonly used illegal drugs by college students.
Slang Name: Pot, Grass, Hashish, Kif, The Bomb, Kine, The Mackedoshus, Mary Jane
Chemical Name: Cannabis Sativa
Pharmacological Classification: stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogen
Medical Use: used legally in the US as a pain treatment for some AIDS and cancer patients
How Taken: smoked, swallowed, or sniffed
Usual Dose: 1 or 2 Cigarettes
Duration of Effect: 4 hours
Physical Dependence Potential: None
Marijuana is the name given to the dried leaves and stems of the hemp plant, cannabis sativa. It can either be smoked or ingested. Marijuana is composed of 421 chemicals which are broken down in the body through a series of complex stages.
Psychological Effects: While marijuana has never proven to be physically addictive, it can be highly psychologically addictive. Marijuana exerts its psychological effects by upsetting the balance of brain chemicals that control sensory perception (including appetite), mood, energy, and concentration. The result is a state of heightened sensitivity, mild euphoria, hunger, drowsiness, nervousness, and a distorted sense of the passage of time. In addition, marijuana adversely alters judgment, reasoning skills, and reaction time (thereby making driving under the influence dangerous) and causes short term memory loss.
Physical Effects: The immediate effects of marijuana usually peak within thirty minutes and fade completely after two to four hours. However, the by-products can remain in your system for up to five days and may still be detectable thirty days or more after the last time you smoked.
• causes the heart rate to increase by as much as 50%
• increases blood pressure and may trigger pre-existing heart problems or panic disorder
• has up to 50% more tars and carcinogens than cigarettes; smoking one joint does as much damage to the lungs as smoking ten cigarettes
• triggers emphysema and bronchitis
• decreases brain cell activity
• may permanently damage nerve connectors
• has been shown to impair the immune system
• causes increased vulnerability to disease
• temporarily decreases the release of hormones that direct sexual growth and development
• upsets the balance of hormones that control the menstrual cycle
Slang Names: Speed Balls, Gold Dust, Coke, Bernice, Corine, Flake, Star Dust
Chemical Name: Methyl ester of benzoylecgonine
Pharmacological Classification: stimulant
Medical Use: local anesthesia
How Taken: sniffed, injected, or swallowed
Usual Dose: varies
Duration of Effect: varies
Physical Dependence Potential: none
Mental Dependence Potential: yes
Cocaine is an alkaloid extracted from the coca plant, erythroxylon. Cocaine’s popularity is partially due to its dual effect; it acts as a stimulant in the brain and central nervous system while simultaneously acting as an anesthetic that numbs all the tissues with which it interacts. The drug is usually sold as a white powder which is commonly inhaled or “snorted” but can also be injected.
Some forms of the drug are smoked: freebase is a concentrated form of cocaine which is made by adding solvents to the powder form; crack is a rock-like form of cocaine processed in “street labs;” coca paste, a paste made from the plant from which cocaine is usually extracted, is usually spread and smoked on tobacco cigarettes.
The major difference between these various forms of cocaine is the high they produce. The high obtained from inhaled powder usually peaks and diminishes within minutes; effects usually fade completely within an hour. Injecting and smoking cocaine produces a fast “rush” that also peaks in minutes; effects usually completely fade within the half-hour.
The most significant problem with cocaine is that the line between low and high risk cocaine use is extremely hard to draw; what is a “social habit” one week can develop into a dangerous addiction by the next. Mild dependency symptoms include anxiety, suspiciousness, irritability, tension, and insomnia. Severe addiction is marked by extreme paranoia, compulsive behavior, hallucinations, and feelings of being watched or followed.
Psychological Effects: Cocaine exerts its main stimulating effect by altering the action of a central neurotransmitter, dopamine, which is responsible for controlling mood and relaxation. Cocaine re-regulates the secretion of dopamine, which results in a state of increased energy, alertness, arousal, and confidence. Within about an hour, the surge of intense stimulation achieved from taking cocaine wears off and the user “crashes,” a state characterized by feelings of edginess and irritability. The “crash” is brought about as the body begins to return to a level of stimulation lower than before it was subjected to the cocaine; this low level of stimulation is characterized by decreased levels of dopamine and results in a state of depression. Taking more cocaine seems like the easiest way to reverse or avoid the “crashes;” this dangerous logic is what leads to a high rate of addiction.
Physical Effects: The effects of the stimulation on the brain and the central nervous system are far reaching.
• drastically increases heart rate (can damage cardiac tissue and disrupt one’s normal heart beat)
• has been known to cause heart attacks and sudden death in otherwise healthy users
• causes an increase in blood pressure which can weaken or rupture the brain’s blood vessels (leading to stroke, coma, or death)
• produces decreased appetite and causes fatigue (can lead to malnutrition, weight loss, insomnia, and a weakened immune system)
• can lead to lung damage, chronic congestion, coughing, and throat pain (smoked forms)
Slang Name: H, Horse, Scat, Junk, Snow, Stuff, Harry, Joy Powder
Chemical Name: Diacetylmorphine
Pharmacological Classification: depressant
Medical Use: pain relief
How Taken: injected or sniffed
Usual Dose: varies
Duration of Effect: 4 hours
Physical Dependence Potential: yes
Mental Dependence Potential: yes
Heroin was originally synthesized in 1898 by the Bayer Company, the same pharmaceutical laboratory that developed aspirin, with the hope that it would be as effective as morphine at reducing pain, suppressing coughs, and relieving diarrhea without being as addictive. Morphine is the active ingredient in opium, a drug made by collecting and drying the liquid which oozes from the stem of a freshly cut opium poppy flower. The opium is filtered into a morphine base, which is then synthesized into heroin. Often heroin is not found in this pure form. By the time one buys it on the street many other potency-altering substances have been added; this explains the slang term the drug has acquired, “junk.”
There are four main ways in which heroin can be ingested: smoking, snorting, skin-popping, and mainlining. To smoke heroin, usually a bit of tobacco is removed from a normal cigarette and replaced with heroin. Snorting involves inhaling the drug through the nose as one would cocaine. Skinpopping, injection of the drug intramuscularly, and mainlining, injection of the drug directly into the bloodstream, are the most potent ways of using the drug, because little of the drug has a chance to be metabolized before it begins to exert its effects. However, these last two ingestion methods both require syringes which, when shared, can transmit HIV. If you do use heroin, protect yourself; always use a clean, disposable needle and, above all, never share needles. This will minimize your risk of contracting HIV.
Physical Effects: Heroin’s effects are almost immediate and last from three to four hours. The first symptoms are usually nausea and even vomiting. However, within minutes, feelings of well-being and euphoria set in. When mainlining, these feelings expresses themselves as a “rush” which is often compared to an orgasm. However, when the drugs begin to wear off, the crash is drastic and is often what sends a user looking for more heroin.
Not only is the drug highly addictive, but by using the drug often enough, one can also build up a tolerance for it. In other words, you need more and more heroin to produce the same effects. As a result, many people overdose on heroin, and there is a high death rate associated with the drug.
Slang Name: Shrooms
Chemical Name: 3-(2-dimethylamino)-ethylindiol-4-ol dihydrogen phosphate
Pharmacological Classification: hallucinogen
Medical Use: none
How Taken: swallowed
Usual Dose: 25 milligrams
Duration of Effect: 6-8 hours
Physical Dependence Potential: none
Shrooms are mushrooms which contain a psychoactive substance, psilocybin. Many choose to take shrooms over other drugs which produce similar effects because of the common belief that they, being mushrooms, are more natural then these other psychedelics. However, psilocybin is a chemical that is no different from the ones in these other drugs. Shrooms are usually eaten straight, but can also be put in food or drink. The effect of shrooms peaks about two hours after ingestion and can last between three and eight hours.
As is true for other hallucinogenic drugs, your mind-set and your physical surroundings greatly influence your experience with shrooms; feelings of anger or distress can be exaggerated on shrooms, while unfamiliar, over-stimulating, or noisy environments can result in a chaotic and scary sense of a loss of control.
Psychological Effects: Distortions of time and space and impairment of judgment, concentration, and coordination are usually among the first symptoms. Hallucinogenic effects, such as synaesthesia (the perception of one sense as another), hallucinations, and distortions of sight and hearing eventually set in.
Physical Effects: The first physical sensations noted after ingestion are muscle relaxation, a rise in body temperature, pulse rate, and blood pressure. In addition, nausea, drowsiness, numbness, and coldness of the extremities may occur at this point. Sometimes, fatigue and depression follow the psychoactive phase.
Slang Names: Acid, Sugar, Big D, Cubes, Trips
Chemical Name: d-lysergic acid diethylamine
Pharmacological Classification: hallucinogen
Medical Use: experimental study of mental function, alcoholism
How Taken: swallowed
Usual Dose: 100 milligrams
Duration of Effect: 10 hours
Physical Dependence Potential: none
LSD is a semi-synthetic psychedelic drug. Its intense ability to excite the visionary senses has made it one of the more popular “recreational” drugs used today. The extreme potency of the drug is best exemplified by the way in which it was first discovered. Dr. Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist, learned of the drug’s effects when working with the substance in his laboratory. A small quantity of it soaked through his fingertips into his bloodstream; within minutes he was experiencing the first “acid trip” ever.
LSD is so intense that it is measured and packaged differently than other drugs. Most drugs are measured in thousandths of a gram, but LSD is measured in millionths of a gram. An effective dose of LSD, 20-125 mg, is invisible. As a result, it is packaged in small powder pellets (microdots), gelatin chips (window panes), and squares of LSD (soaked paper blotter). As with any street drug, it is nearly impossible to know the amount and purity of the drug.
Depending on the form, LSD can be swallowed, taken on the tongue, absorbed through the skin, or ingested. It is important to realize that increasing the dosage affects the intensity of the “trip” rather than the length. Body weight, the time of day, mental state, and physical environment can also effect the intensity of the trip.
There are many misunderstandings concerning the adverse long-term physical effects produced by LSD. It has not been shown to cause either brain damage or chromosomal mutations. In addition, it is virtually impossible to overdose on the drug. However, this is not to say that there are no harmful consequences from taking the drug. LSD produces powerful hallucinations, many of which can be quite disturbing. It also severely impairs one’s judgment; people have died or seriously injured themselves because of actions performed under the influence of the drug. It has also been known to result in a state of psychological instability which can last weeks or months and may possibly require hospitalization.
Psychological Effects: Only 0.01% of the ingested dose of LSD ever crosses the blood-brain barrier. However, this minimal amount is enough to produce an intense psychedelic experience which can last between 6 and 9 hours. The psychedelic effects produced by the drug result from the interaction of LSD with serotonin, a neurotransmitter which plays a large role in processing sensory perceptions. The interaction of the drug with serotonin explains the elaborate visual and auditory hallucinations produced by the drug. It has also been associated with rapid mood swings, distortions of reality, and synethesia, when smells are interpreted as colors or sounds as touch etc. “Flashbacks,” a return to the psychedelic state produced by LSD at a time when you are not on the drug, have also been noted. They are triggered by stress or environmental or mental “cues” and are not physiologically based.
Physical Effects: LSD is rapidly distributed to most major tissues, especially the liver, spleen, kidneys, and adrenal glands, within minutes of ingestion. Upon ingestion, most people complain of a “metallic taste” in one’s mouth. Twenty minutes to one hour after ingestion, other physical effects set in: nausea, dizziness, muscle weakness, loss of appetite, increase blood pressure, dilated pupils, tenseness, drowsiness, and a tingling sensation in the extremities. Usually these symptoms disappear long before the psychedelic ones do.
Slang Name: X, XTC, Adam, E
Chemical Name: 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (tablets often contain other drugs)
Medical Use: Previously used in psychotherapy
How Taken: Swallowed
Usual Dose: varies, usually around 100-125 milligrams
Duration of Effect: 3-5 hours
Physical Dependence Potential: No
Mental Dependence Potential: Yes
MDMA was created in 1912. Patented but never studied or marketed for human consumption, MDMA interacts with the brain cells that produce serotonin. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that helps to regulate our mood and feelings of well being, as well as our sleeping and eating habits, thought processes, and sexual function. MDMA blocks the natural re-uptake of serotonin, flooding the gap between neurons with serotonin. The exact dose and ingredients in Ecstasy tablets available for sale are unknown. Pills marketed as Ecstasy have been found to contain LSD, caffeine, amphetamines, ketamine, and dextro-methorphan, an ingredient found in over-the-counter cough syrup. In order to make sure your pill truly has MDMA, test kits can be purchased via the web at www.dancesafe.org. The Dancesafe website also has a database with pictures of pills, a description of the imprints on the pills, a list of cities where they are sold, and their ingredients.
Ecstasy became very popular in the late 1990s because it was considered to be a drug with an easily controlled, pleasant high and no harmful side effects. Users generally report feelings of empathy, well-being, connection to others, and increased sensitivity to touch. There is growing evidence, however, that Ecstasy might not be so harmless, with both short-term effects for occasional users and those who experiment with the drug and long-term damage that can come with frequent use. Some users report “Tuesday blues” - feeling depressed, anxious, and irritable and having difficulty concentrating for several days after use. Harm from long-term use or a single high dose of Ecstasy can cause long-term loss of serotonin. This sort of damage could cause subtle but significant impairment to cognitive abilities, memory, arithmetic calculation, complex attention, and increased impulsiveness.
Physical effects: Ecstasy produces a mild, euphoric state within 20 to 40 minutes after ingesting a tablet, with the peak effect occurring 60-90 minutes after. You may also feel a little rush of exhilaration accompanied by nausea. Users report the “high” as feeling intensely empathetic, with a sensation of understanding and accepting others. This is also accompanied by feelings of increased physical sensitivity and a desire to touch. Most people can usually deal with important matters even when the high is at its peak. Its stimulant effects can increase energy and decrease appetite.
Potential negative effects may include anxiety, confusion, depression, sleep problems, and paranoia. Also, people may experience muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and increased body temperature. Some deaths have been associated with Ecstasy, usually as a result of heat stroke. It is important for those who decide to use Ecstasy to stay cool and hydrated. Ecstasy can also be dangerous for people with heart problems.
Ritalin and Adderall
Slang Name: Vitamin R, R-Ball, Ritty, New Coke
Chemical Name: Ritalin: Methylephenidate; Adderall: Dextroamphetamine Saccharate, Amphetamine Asparate, Dextroamphetamine Sulfate USP, and Amphetamine Sulfate USP
Medical Use: Attention Deficit Disorder
How Taken: Swallowed
Usual Dose: 5, 10, or 20 mg
Duration of Effect:: 4 to 8 hours
Physical Dependence Potential: Yes
Mental Dependence Potential: Yes
Ritalin and Adderall are central nervous stimulants commonly prescribed for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). The stimulants help those diagnosed with ADD to focus and concentrate. Some students who do not have a prescription for these medications take these drugs in order to help them pull “all nighters,” either to study or to party. Most people swallow the pills, but some crush the pills and snort the powder or cook the powder and inject it. For those who choose to use Aderall or Ritalin as a study aid or party drug, it is safer to swallow the pills rather than snorting or injecting them.
Physical effects: For people not diagnosed with ADD, taking a single dose of Ritalin or Adderall will increase mental altertness and decrease fatigue. When you take the drug, you may find yourself to be more energized, talkative, and sociable and then slightly depressed and irritable while coming down from the high.
The most serious harm from Adderall or Ritalin can come from taking too much of it at one time. Regular use of these drugs for pulling all-nighters can make it hard to regulate your sleep cycle. Tolerance can develop, and you may find yourself needing more and more of the drug to feel the same effect. Potential side effects include dizziness, insomnia, depression, stomach cramps, and loss of appetite. Do not take these drugs if you have heart irregularities like tachycardia.
I had friends who lived on caffeine freshman year. They couldn’t stay awake in class without it. My sleep deprivation made me privy to caffeine use, too, that first year. But then we grew up and realized that assaulting your body with caffeine wasn’t so healthy. Admittedly, I still do drink coffee when I’m extra tired, which unfortunately is too often. The key, I guess, is moderation.
---Arts & Sciences, ‘02
Pharmacological Classification: Stimulant
How Taken: Pills, food, drink
Usual Dose: 200mg - 300mg (2 cups of coffee)
Physical Dependence Potential: Yes
Mental Dependence Potential: Yes
The first thing most people think of when they hear the word “coffee” is caffeine. Caffeine, found also in teas, cola, and chocolate, may get you going in the morning or pick you up for late night of studying, but it is important to keep in mind that it is a powerful and addictive drug.
Caffeine affects people in different ways. People who use caffeine on a regular basis may become irritable and tired if they go without it. On the other hand, people who don’t normally use caffeine may become jittery, nervous, and unable to concentrate, or experience an upset stomach or headache when they use caffeine.
Once caffeine enters the body, it is absorbed through the stomach and is rapidly taken up by the brain. There it achieves its purpose by stimulating the CNS. The cortical layer of the brain is aroused, resulting in an increased wakeful state and mood elevation. At higher levels of caffeine ingestion (500 mg, or 4 cups of coffee), autonomic centers of the brain are stimulated and the heart rate and respiration increase.
If you drink more than five cups of coffee a day, you may be addicted to caffeine. Use caution when reducing your caffeine intake; stopping suddenly will leave unpleasant side effects, like headaches and dramatic fatigue. For many of us, caffeine can be a very important part of our lives. Sometimes it may feel like we couldn’t stay awake without it, but it is an unnatural substance to the body and must be used in moderation. If you feel yourself depending on caffeine for energy all the time, you may want to get advice from Gannett or look into changing your diet, exercise, and sleep habits in order to keep you awake and alert on your own.
Alternatives to Caffeine Use to Keep You Awake
1. Take a cold shower.
2. Turn on wild music and dance around your room (singing along is optional).
3. Go for a quick run (this could even be up and down stairs).
4. GO TO SLEEP! Often times sleep is the best thing you can get; you’ll be more alert in the morning or after a nap.
When I first came to Cornell, it seemed like no one smoked here. I guess I was just hanging out with the non-smoking crowd. Then I started to notice a few places on campus where smokers congregated. Sort of a smokers club, if you will. Especially on weekends, at bars and parties, there is a lot of smoking.
---Arts & Sciences, ‘03
I don’t notice too many people smoking at Cornell. However, I do have to inhale the disgusting fumes of the minority of people who do smoke at Cornell. They seem to be attached to the doorway. Remember smokers...30 feet AWAY from the doorway!!!
---Human Ecology, ‘04
Tobacco is a drug that is widely used by college students. Many students that had never even considered smoking in high school begin in college. While there are some women who “chew” or smoke cigars, the predominant choice of nicotine among women is cigarettes. This may be due to the image created within the realm of advertising. Marlboro was created as a “feminine” cigarette, but in 1981 the Reynolds company (a major tobacco power) labeled women as the industry’s unexplored market. Fifteen years later, lung cancer remains the leading cause of death among women, bypassing breast cancer in 1987.
• Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women in the US (nearly 68,000 women a year will die from lung cancer.)
• 3,000 non-smoking people die each year in the US due to breathing second hand smoke
• Smoking amongst women causes faster aging of facial skin; is a major cause of coronary heart disease and cancers of the lung, mouth, pharynx and bladder; and increases the risk of cancers of the liver, colon, rectum, pancreas and kidney.
• Women who smoke may have an increased risk of developing cervical cancer than non-smoking women and women who are not exposed to environmental smoke.
• Women are now the fastest growing group of smokers.
Types of Smokers
• smoke to give themselves a lift (to stay active and not slow down)
• don’t start to wake up until they have had a cigarette in the morning
• like to have something to hold in their hands
• like to watch the smoke
• often pipe smokers are handling smokers because they like to try to keep the pipe lit
• like to smoke when they are relaxed and comfortable
• also known as social smokers
• most can get along without cigarettes
• smoke when they are upset, stressed, or angry
• smoke to take their mind away from worries
• may quit easily during calm period of life but can’t stay away during crisis or difficulty
• psychologically addicted
• craving for a cigarette begins as soon as they finish the old one
• this type of smoker must quit “cold turkey” (nothing else seems to work)
• smoke automatically
• may not be aware that they are smoking
• do not get satisfaction from smoking
• is easier for them to stop then for craving smokers
From— Dr. Daniel Horn (in Tobacco And Your Health. 1969. Harold S. Diehl)
It cannot be denied that smoking has harmful effects on the body. When people smoke for the first time, it is usually a rather unpleasant experience. This is because beginning smokers usually experience mild nicotine poisoning. Nicotine is a chemical. When it is released within our system, the body responds as it would to any foreign chemical. Dizziness, faintness, increase in heart rate, and clammy skin are some of the ways that the body responds. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are also common. As people continue to smoke, their bodies begin to become accustomed to nicotine. They no longer experience discomfort with smoking, but the effects on the body are not diminished.
When nicotine enters the body, heart rate immediately increases. Blood pressure also goes up and stays elevated for quite some time. Due to this stress that smoking puts on the heart, coronary heart disease is common among smokers and more likely to occur among women smokers. For women who use oral contraceptives and smoke, the chances of having myocardial infarction are increased by a factor of 10.
When smoke is inhaled into the lungs, it irritates the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract. This tract is lined with cilia that serve to keep the lungs free of dust and other foreign substances. Nicotine slows the movement of these cilia and eventually causes them to stop working. At this point the delicate membrane of the lungs is exposed to smoke, which leaves them susceptible to numerous lung problems, ranging from something as simple as “smoker’s cough” to pneumonia to lung cancer.
Upon absorption, nicotine causes a release of glycogen from the liver. This surge of sugar into the blood stream acts as a stimulant causing the smoker to feel more awake and alert. But the effects wear off quickly, and the person is left feeling more tired and groggy than before. Some smokers claim that smoking is a relaxant that “calms their nerves.” This is not true, but may seem true to a smoker’s body that craves nicotine, leaving them restless and irritated.
Smoking deteriorates one’s overall health. This can be seen most clearly through a decrease in endurance; the body cannot perform at maximum level when it is compensating for nicotine’s effects. Athletes that smoke perform consistently lower in endurance activities than those who don’t. Smokers are also more apt to catch colds or take sick days from work than non-smokers.
How to Quit
While smoking may give you something to do, a way to fit in, or a solution to an oral fix, quitting is always a healthy alternative. A recent study showed that for women, quitting smoking at any point will improve their health. In other words, while men’s health can be expected to decline in proportion to the duration of their smoking career even when they quit, women’s systems seem to rebound better, no matter how long they smoked before quitting.
Quitting smoking is not the easiest thing to do. It definitely requires motivation and a conscientious effort. Luckily, Cornell and the Ithaca area offer many support networks and counseling opportunities. Quitting “cold turkey” is an alternative for some, while others use a nicotine patch or gum. Gannett has plenty of resources in regards to quitting smoking, as well as information pertaining to encouraging a smoke-free society on a larger scale.
It is certainly no secret that at Cornell, stress is very common in our daily lives. Some of us can’t even count the number of times we say to ourselves and our friends I am so stressed. Stress can be both positive and negative. Positive stress can help us to focus our energies and work harder on a project. However, positive stress is short term. Once the moment of panic has passed, we should be able to relax. Negative stress happens when you can not relax and is more long-term. It has serious health risks associated with it, including ulcers, high blood pressure, increased risk of coronary heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer.
Physical Symptoms of Excessive Stress:
• neck, back, and shoulder pains
• nervous twitches
• greater susceptibility to colds, flu, or other illnesses
• worsening of existing conditions or illnesses
• feelings of depression, anxiety, irritability, nervousness, and
• jaw pains and tooth aches from grinding teeth
• cankers and cold sores
• stomachaches, diarrhea, change in appetite
Sitting in my room
All I can see
Are the mounds of work
Looming over me
Pages upon pages
I haven’t read
My unmade bed
To be filed
Should be done
Oh, what fun!
Grades are starting
To cause a scare
Hard to hide
Mold is growing
On the inside
On the floor
The closet door
Marked off chapters
In assigned books
What to do?
Often they’re better
Than getting the flu
Not to weep
All this work
The end in sight?
Maybe I’ll just
Call it a night.
-J. K. Eisenhard, Ag & Life Science ‘97
Possible Causes of Stress
At Cornell, our work often seems to consume us and be the main source of stress in our lives, but it is important to realize that stress is caused by a number of different factors. Different people will feel stressed by different things. Some typical causes of stress include:
• making the transition from being dependent to independent
• beginning or ending a relationship
• being discriminated against because of race, gender, sexual
preference, class, or ability
• physical stressors in your environment
• improper nutrition and diet
• sexual harassment and abuse
• significant changes in work load and expectations
• dealing with the loss or illness of a loved one
These are only a list of “typical” causes of stress. It is possible for almost anything to be a source of stress. Every stressor is equally important and should be kept at a healthy level.
Coping with Stress
The frequency with which people become stressed and their ways of coping with it vary from individual to individual. The first step is to identify the cause of your stress. Ideally, the cause can be removed and thereby the stress is eliminated, but often times the cause is beyond personal control. In this case, we are left to cope with the situation. When we can’t get rid of the stressor itself, we must recognize what things can be changed to reduce our stress.
Ways to reduce stress:
• Time management. Not only can this help with personal organization, but it also reduces the intensity of stressful bouts by spreading the cause over a longer time period.
• Take a break. A break from a stressful situation allows you to refocus and gain a new perspective on the problem.
• Chill out. Reduce the intensity of your emotional reactions to stress. Try not to overreact or put too much emphasis on something that is not critical or urgent.
• Free time. Plan time for yourself that you can spend doing something enjoyable and relaxing. During that time, keep your mind free from worry.
• Meditation. Deep breathing, visual imagery, yoga, exercise, and relaxation techniques all help to minimize stress.
• Eat and Sleep. Getting enough sleep and eating healthy foods can reduce stress. Often if you are over-tired, you tend to have a distorted sense of stressful situations or problems that arise.
• Talk to Someone. Sometimes we can not deal with our stress alone and need to turn to others for support and guidance. Friends are easy to talk to if you need to get something off your chest. Professional counselors at Gannett are also available if the problem is more serious.
Time management workshops, yoga and meditation classes, EARS, and study groups can help you deal with stress and provide ways to combat it. Most importantly, you should not let stress get out of hand. You will have to be willing to set realistic goals and organize your priorities. It will not always be easy to follow through and meet your expectations, but help is available at all stages of the game.
And it was terrifying. So terrifying. That feeling of hopelessness... with no way to escape. I was trapped in a web that would not set me free. I often wondered why I should bother to get out of bed in the morning. It seemed like there was nothing I could do to get rid of that feeling... that horrid emptiness. Some days I couldn’t stop crying. Other days I felt absolutely nothing. I was stuck in a state of constant darkness, where I forgot what it was like to be happy, to feel content. I had forgotten what it was like to truly live.
There is no doubt that we all feel a bit depressed every now and then. Depression is a very real feeling that almost all of us have encountered, either in our friends or in ourselves. In some cases, depression may only be a temporary feeling, but other instances may last for months or even years. It is estimated that one in every four women will be clinically depressed at some point during their lives. This can be very scary and confusing, especially for those who don’t understand it.
Most of us experience day-to-day mood swings that are influenced by the things going on around us. If you are having a bad day or if something goes wrong, you may say that you are “depressed.” In actuality, this is just a case of the “blues” or a sad mood. Feeling down in these instances is a feeling that may be gone in a matter of hours or minutes. Often all it takes is talking to a friend, spending time alone, or doing something enjoyable, like playing the piano or going for a run.
A more serious form of depression is the kind that we feel when we are grieving or undergoing a personal setback or loss. At the time, this feeling of depression may feel like it will never go away, but eventually it will. It is very natural to feel depressed at times like these. One must realize that this “down time” can be one of the first steps in getting over the loss. In cases like these, it may help to talk with a friend or a relative. Another alternative is EARS, a student-run service on the Cornell campus. This program provides peers that are available for free telephone or walk-in counseling and referrals.
She is so filled with pain and anger
that if she lets in any love or compassion
she will suffocate.
She is so alone that she doesn’t see the others around her,
hurting with her,
She releases with pen and paper,
which end up fueling her anguish.
the flames of betrayal and hate
and her burning eyes do not see the droplets of hope
that are so painstakingly wrung out to douse the inferno
and to light the blackness
that are destroying her strong
—J.M., Human Ecology ‘96
Clinical depression is a more severe form of depression that is a medical illness. This form of depression has drastic effects on a person’s everyday life and can even be fatal if not treated properly. A person suffering from clinical depression may not understand why they feel the way that they do, because their feelings of sadness may not be attributable to anything specific that is happening in their lives. Sometimes they fail to recognize their condition as an illness, or they may blame themselves for feeling down. One of the first steps to overcoming depression is realizing that it is an illness and it can be treated.
For a large part, clinical depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Scientists are also conducting current research that is exploring a possible link between heredity and depression. Once depression has been properly diagnosed, treatment can begin. This may involve therapy and medication, such as antidepressants, which serve to keep the chemicals in the brain at normal levels. With proper treatment, a depressed person can easily achieve full recovery.
Some of the symptoms of depression include:
• Continuous feelings of emptiness or sadness
• Eating irregularities (marked increases or decreases)
• Loss of energy
• Changes in sleep patterns (lack of or excessive amounts)
• Feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem
• Change in sexual drive
• Lack of concentration
• Excessive crying or lack of emotional response
• Thoughts of death or suicide
• Inability to cope with everyday obstacles
It is important to realize that these are only some of the symptoms associated with depression. If you think that you are depressed, but are not experiencing these symptoms, you may want to talk to someone anyway. It is also possible that someone can be experiencing some of these symptoms without being depressed. Everyone experiences these feelings once in awhile; that is normal. It is only if these feelings are persistent and very serious that characterize clinical depression.
Manic depression (or bipolar disorder) is another form of depression. Like clinical depression, this is also caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is characterized by severe mood swings from being very happy and “up” to being very depressed or “low.” Due to these swings, manic depressants are often misinterpreted as “moody.” Unfortunately, this may prevent persons with this disease from getting the help that they need.
Symptoms of mania include:
• Decreased need for sleep
• Consistent “high” mood
• Increased energy and activity
• Racing thoughts, actions, movements
• Unrealistic plans or notions
These symptoms are interspersed with feelings of depression and extreme lows. The amount of time that these mood swings last depend on the individual. Some may change daily and others may last for a matter of months.
What Sylvia Forgot
And I don’t know what to do. I’m just sitting here, watching her cry, trying everything that I can think of to get her to stop, and nothing is working. I dig into my coat pocket, in hopes of finding a tissue, but emerge with nothing more than an empty gum wrapper.
Her small frame shakes slowly, as the tears stream down her face. No longer does each tear have its own identity, as they did five minutes ago, now they have all run together. I watch as the stream of liquid salt traces the contour of her face and drips slowly from her chin. I wonder how long they have been sitting inside, waiting to escape. Her delicate hand reaches up to cover her mouth, in a feeble attempt to suppress her sobs. Perhaps if she holds her hand there long enough, she might be able to push it all back in and hold the feelings down. Maybe, just maybe, she can put it all back into the small corner of her being, where it had all been resting, and leave it for another time. But the tears begin to come faster, and she realizes that they have already been held in for far too long.
I reach up and brush the short brown hair from her face, while gently pulling her close to hug all of her troubles away. “It’s alright,” I tell her. “Everything will be alright.” And I think silently that I’m talking more to myself than to her. She rests her head on my shoulder and tries to catch her breath, as starts to tell me her story, for the second time.
And as she speaks to me, I don’t know what to say; so I listen and simply nod, saying nothing. She’s telling me how she just doesn’t care anymore; that she simply can’t care anymore. She doesn’t have the energy. It has gotten too hard to deal with, too hard to get up every morning, too hard to smile. She begins to cry harder, as she tells me that she doesn’t think she can go on. And she just can’t handle feeling this way any longer, feeling so, so... so empty. But it is not a normal empty, where you open a box and there’s nothing inside. This is a different kind of empty. This is an empty that’s so full of nothing, that it takes up all of the space inside. And she doesn’t ever eat and she doesn’t ever sleep and.... And all I can think of is Sylvia Plath and how she never mentioned what her friends did.
I look at her tired eyes that have stopped crying now, not because she feels any better, but because they have nothing left to turn into tears. Her hair sticks to the moisture on her cheeks, but she doesn’t even seem to notice. I remember the day that she got mad at the world and cut her long, beautiful hair, muttering something about revenge. And I wonder if maybe that’s when this all began.
She lets out a sigh and I wish that I could reach down and scoop her up and carry her far away. I know that I am emotionally stronger. I think about how I would pull all of her problems out from deep inside and fix them for her, one by one. And I want to be able to make everything better. I want to snap my fingers and stop her pain, take all the parts and put them back into place. But I know that I can’t.
And now she’s sitting here, looking at me, asking for help, and I am not sure quite what to do. Sylvia never mentioned her friends. She never said what her best friend did, nor did she mention if the Bell Jar suddenly opened up and pulled her friend in too. And this is very important, because as she sits here, pouring out her heart to me, I am being sucked inside. And I am the strong one. Suddenly, I am the only one here that is strong enough to pick up this glass cage surrounding her. It is my job to save her.
--J. K. Eisenhard, Ag & Life ‘97
Helping a Friend
In my case, I needed my friend to be forceful with me. It was when she finally threatened to call my parents that I let her take me to Gannett to get help.
—Arts & Sciences, ‘01
Many of us will never experience depression or manic depression, but we may encounter a close friend or family member that will. In cases like these, it is helpful to know what one can do to help.
• Do not try to sympathize with the person by saying that you feel the same way that they do.
• Do not try to “cheer them up.”
• Be calm and patient with the person. You can help a great deal just by being there to listen.
• Offer to go with him/her to speak with a counselor or doctor.
• Don’t be judgmental or critical; the person can’t help the way s/he feels.
For a person who is suffering from depression, a friend can be one of the most fundamental elements for a successful recovery. A friend can help a great deal just by being there. It is important to realize, however, that there are professionals who are trained to deal with depression. Often, it is best to help a depressed person get the professional help that they need, rather than trying to help beyond your personal limits. For a complete list of resources and help lines, look at the end of this chapter.
You can not help those who do not want it
You can not answer to those who do not ask
You can not give to those who will not take
You can only wait, standing with arms open,
“...And if I don’t come back from my prelim, just look for me at the bottom of the gorge.”
Comments such as this one can be heard echoing throughout campus at particularly stressful times during the semester. As a Cornell student, it is inevitable that you’ll hear your fair share of “bridge jokes,” which are generally meant to be taken lightly. However, while jokes like these are rarely given a second thought, it is important to realize that suicide itself is a very serious issue.
It may be difficult for many of us to understand the thoughts and motivations of a person who wants to end their own life. A suicidal person suffers from a great deal of internal pain and unhappiness that never seems to go away. The reasons for these feelings may range from something biologically based, such as clinical depression, to a more domestic cause, like the effects of an alcoholic parent. The individual’s feelings of hopelessness and pain finally reach a point where they believe that the only way to stop hurting inside is to end their life.
The most important step in suicide prevention, for oneself or for a friend, begins with the recognition of the signs that may lead to suicide. Signs should not be ignored or overlooked; each individual’s problems are deserving of help and attention. The Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service of Tompkins County, with assistance from Counseling and Psychological Services at Gannett, has compiled the following list of possible signs of suicide:
• suicide threats or statements about wanting to die
• joking about suicide
• saying things like “everyone would be better off without me”
• giving away prized possessions
• saying thank you and good-bye in an unusually expansive way
• taking unnecessary, dangerous risks
• writing poems or drawing pictures about death
• increasing alcohol or drug use
• sudden changes in eating or sleeping habits
• showing unusual anger or sadness
• acting out of character
Obviously not every person that does one of these things is suicidal, and not every suicidal person exhibits these characteristics. But signs such as these should not be ignored. It is not unusual for people to have thoughts about suicide once in awhile, but excessive or consistent thoughts are unhealthy. If you have noticed these signs in yourself or in a friend, you should talk to someone and find help. With support and counseling, suicidal persons can recover from their hopelessness and feel better about themselves and their problems.
It can be very scary when we have friends whom we suspect may be suicidal. One of the most important things to remember is that we can be helpful just by being there for them, but they may need professional help and counseling that we are unable to provide. Do not let a friend’s problem become your problem too. Counselors are available that can give your friend the best possible care; don’t try to help beyond your abilities. Still, friends can:
• Be calm and patient.
• Express concern. Tell the person that you are worried and
• Listen attentively. Listen to the feeling behind the words.
• Acknowledge the person’s feelings. Emotional pain is very
• Ask if your friend is thinking of suicide, and tell them what
led you to ask the question. A suicidal person may be relieved
to have the thought spoken; while a non-suicidal person will not be negatively influenced by the question.
• Deal directly with the issues. Ask questions that relate to the
circumstances of the person’s life. Don’t give advice or judgements.
• Seek professional and emergency help. Do not leave a
suicidal person alone.
• Involve others in supporting a friend and in supporting you.
*Provided by the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service of Tompkins County, with assistance from Counseling and Psychological Services, Gannett: University Health Services.
There are twenty-four hour emergency and support services available for suicidal persons or friends of suicidal persons, both on campus and in the community. A complete listing of services and emotional support groups are provided at the end of this chapter. Every individual’s problems are important. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Psychotherapy is a rather imposing name that turns many people away from an avenue that can be quite effective for dealing with excessive stress, depression, or trauma. People seek counseling for many reasons; seeing a therapist does not mean that you are mentally unstable, crazy, or insane. Therapy is a valuable resource that can help you deal with complex problems in your life.
Being at Cornell, or any university, is a shock to the system. College is a time to have new experiences which can be both exciting and scary. We are forced to take more control of our lives and responsibility for our choices and actions. These can be as simple as maintaining a balanced diet or as complex as forming friendships and finding our niche in a huge university. There are changes in work load, study habits, and testing methods. Often we can’t adjust to these differences right away; at first, we may feel unable to succeed.
Beginning college can also have many developmental demands on our emotions. Many of us are separated for the first time from our families. We are developing as individuals and as adults. It becomes necessary to forge new types of relationships with our parents that reflect our changing status as people. Disagreements and fights may result which neither we nor our parents are really prepared to deal with.
Many Cornell students seek therapy and counseling to deal with these and other problems that they are experiencing. It is estimated that 11% of students on the Cornell campus seek help from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Gannett each year. The reasons for seeing a counselor vary, but many of them stem from the stress and pressures that living in a new environment place on us and concerns about changing identities and relationships. For many students, one visit with a counselor is enough to help them sort out their feelings, but in other cases counseling and therapy may take a year or more.
Warning Signs of Needing Help:
• A sad mood that hangs on, no matter what events are occuring
• Withdrawing from people and wanting to be alone
• Losing interest in doing anything
• Changes in sleep patterns; cannot sleep or sleeping too much
• Mood changes and irritability
• Trouble concentrating on reading or in lectures
• Feeling lonely or isolated
• Eating problems; loss of appetite or over eating
• Doing things that make you uncomfortable or are atypical
behaviors: drinking more than usual or being overly
Counseling is a combination of information and support given to a person in an emotional crisis. The counselor helps the person put her experience in perspective and discover what is bothering her and how she can correct it. A counselor may also suggest other services if she feels they will be helpful. CAPS offers counseling services on a short term basis, for up to 12 sessions a year. Longer term counseling can be obtained in the community. CAPS provides a referral list and will help you choose a therapist.
Counseling at Cornell
At Cornell, you can make an appointment by calling CAPS or by going to the office in person. They will do an initial evaluation. This includes finding out why you are calling, determining the urgency of your situation, and deciding if a referral might be appropriate. Emergencies will be seen immediately through walk-in or by telephoning first.
There will be paper work with both general and specific questions. These include things such as your year and college (so that they can get an idea of who is using the services), family history, previous counseling, and general questions about the reason for the visit.
All visits and appointments are strictly confidential. Students receive material detailing your rights as a client and the counselor’s privilege to maintain confidentiality. This can only be broken in the case of extreme danger to yourself or others. All of CAPS’s records are kept separate from the general records of the health center.
The first meeting is a consultation and assessment. The student and the counselor will discuss why the student is there and what she is looking for. They figure out the problem and what will be needed for a solution. This is a chance for the counselor to learn about the student and to make recommendations. The counselor will have some questions to ask you to help structure the conversation. You will not be expected to go in and do all of the talking. CAPS has psychiatrists on staff to whom your counselor may refer you. They are permitted to prescribe medication if they think it is needed. If you and the counselor decide that a long term commitment beyond 12 sessions is necessary, she will help you choose a therapist in the community. Referring helps to preserve the resources that CAPS offers and maintains their availability for all students. Most insurance at least partially covers counseling.
Types of Therapy
Besides individual counseling, there is group counseling. CAPS offers several different types of groups which change depending on the interests and needs of the students. They include ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics), Eating Disorders, Sexual Identity, Grad Student Support, Men’s and Women’s Support Groups, and Bereavement. Most people meet with the group leader prior to joining the group to determine if it is the right group for her and to learn about the group’s guidelines and rules. The groups are strictly confidential. CAPS maintains a listing of the different groups.
Cornell Police 255-1111
Ithaca Ambulance 273-8000
Cayuga Medical Center 274-4011
Ithaca City Police 272-3245
Cayuga Heights Police 257-1011
Eating and Eating Disorders
America Anorexia and Bulimia Assn. (212) 734-1114 418 East 76th St.
New York, NY 10021
Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (708) 831-3438
ANAD, PO Box 7
Highland Park, IL 60035
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Health Promotion 255-4782
Wellness Program 255-5133
303 Helen Newman Hall
American Cancer Society (607) 273-0430
Tompkins County Unit
111 East Seneca Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
American Lung Assn. of CNY (607) 255-5133
PO Box 20
Brooktondale, NY 14817
Tompkins County Health Department (607) 274-6710
National Council on Alcoholism (212) 206-6700
National Clearinghouse for (301) 468-2600
Alcohol and Drug Info.
Narcotics Anonymous (607) 387-8292
Emotional Well Being
Gannett Counseling and Psychological Services 255-5208
Empathy Assistance and Referral Service
211 Willard Straight Hall
Ithaca Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service 272-1616 24 Hour Phone Line
National Mental Health Association (703) 684-7722
US Department of Health 1 800 421-4211
and Human Services Public Health Institute
“Secrets of the Pyramid”. Nabisco Biscuit Co.
“Eating Disorders”. The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, 1984.
Drugs & Alcohol
Books and Journal Articles:
Ashley, R. Heroine: The Myths and the Facts. New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1972.
“Breast Cancer Linked to Moderate Drinking.” Cornell Daily Sun, 1993.
DeNobrega Langone, D. and Langone, J. Women who Drink. Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley
Publishing Co., 1980.
Drug Use and Misuse: Cultural Perspectives. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983.
Drugs. New York: Arno Press, 1971.
Diehl, Harold S., M.D. Tobacco And Your Health. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company,
Gordis, E. “Alcohol and Women”. Alcohol Alert. Vol. 10, 1990; 1-3.
Kaplan, J. The Hardest Drug: Heroine and Public Policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
Schilit, Rebecca and Gomberg, Edith Lisansky. Drugs and Behavior. Newbury Park, California:
Sage Publications Inc., 1991.
Youcha, G. Women and Alcohol: A Dangerous Pleasure. New York: Crown Publishers, 1986.
Columbia-Barnard University Women’s Handbook
Duke University Women’s Handbook
Michigan University Women’s Handbook
“Alcohol Decisions on Tap”. American College Health Assn.
“Cocaine: Waking Up to a Nightmare”. Do It Now Foundation.
“Handling Alcohol Emergencies”. Health Promotion, Cornell University Health Services.
“How to Help a Friend with a Drinking Problem”. American College Health Assn.
“Quit and Win”. Tompkins, Cortland, Cayuga Tobacco Control Coalition.
“The History of Women and Tobacco Advertising”. New York Public Interest Research Group Inc.
Emotional Well Being
The New Our Bodies, Ourselves. ed. Jane Pincus. New York: 1984.
“Depression: Effective Treatments are Available”. US Department of Health and Human Services.
“Facing Suicide, Facing Crisis, Finding Help”. Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service of Tompkins
County, with assistance from Health Education and Psych Services, Gannett Health Center.
“Stress Management”. University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign Counseling Center, Department
of Student Affairs. 1984.
“Understanding Depression”. The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, 1984.
“Who Gets Depression?” and “Recognizing Adolescent Depression”. National Mental Health Assn.