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Chemistry 101

W.Va. Poison Center offers advice for preventing substance abuse at college

CHARLESTON –Most colleges are back in session. The stress of returning to college and juggling many areas of life, such as studying, working, and extracurricular activities can lead to unintentional poisonings.

The West Virginia Poison Center highlights a few ways college students may become unintentionally poisoned.

Medication dosing errors–Medicine, even if sold over-the-counter, can be dangerous if taken incorrectly. Taking more medication than the bottle directs will not make someone feel better faster, but instead can cause an overdose. Medicine should never be taken in larger amounts than is prescribed or recommended.

Misusing drugs as study aids– “Study drugs” include prescriptions for ADHD, over-the-counter energy supplements, and caffeine containing products, such as coffee and energy drinks. Misusing these products as study aids is when a person is not using them correctly to stay awake and study.

These products can be dangerous if used in this way.

Sharing prescriptions–It is illegal and potentially harmful to share prescription medications with someone who the medication is not prescribed for. It may be tempting to avoid a visit to the doctor when pressed for time, but this shortcut can be dangerous.

Binge drinking–The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines binge drinking as men drinking five or more alcoholic drinks within a short period of time or women drinking four or more drinks within a short period of time. Problems related to alcohol use, such as alcohol poisoning, increases significantly for those who binge drink.

Drugged drinks–When out at bars, both men and women are at risk of being drugged if all precautions are not taken. Always keep your eye on your drink. Never leave a drink unattended. Do not accept drinks from a stranger.

College students should have the West Virginia Poison Center number available. Save the number in a cellphone so it is always available at 800-222-1222.

The West Virginia Poison Center provides comprehensive emergency poison information, prevention and educational resources to West Virginians 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The WVPC is staffed by nurses, pharmacists and physicians with special training in treatment of poisonings. Located in Charleston, WV, the WVPC is a part of the West Virginia University-Charleston Division. www.wvpoisoncenter.org.

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