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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Alcoholism At USC: Where To Find Help

In this four-part series, USC Annenberg Media takes a look at alcohol abuse on campus and how students can get help.

Alcoholism is often a problem in many college campuses across the nation. It can often be overlooked or justified because going out to drink is considered a norm in college. Especially at a school that has been considered a “party school” such as USC.

The director of the Student Wellness Center, Paula Lee Swinford, said “students are actually harming themselves by thinking of the school as a party school.” She said when students do this, especially freshman, they don’t go and experiment with one or two shots. They’ll do it with four or five.  While she noted that most students are not alcoholics, they might be what is considered “at-risk” drinkers.

An “at-risk” drinker is defined as someone who has five or more drinks in one sitting for men, and four for women. Although that may not be alcoholism, if it is not looked at or recognized it could lead to alcoholism in the future.

Students on campus have a few resources centered in the Student Wellness Center. One of those resources is the BASICS program. It’s a program that students often go to if they get mandated by police after getting in trouble with the law for being drunk. Students can go voluntarily or if they are seeking help. The BASICS program consists of two, one-hour sessions with a counselor. During the sessions the counselor will help the student self-evaluate to decide if they need to change any behavior and if so, by how much.

If the worry of running into a peer is hindering a student from going to resources on campus, there are options off campus too. Alcoholics Anonymous has more than 30 meetings every day, just in the USC area. Even if the student is not an alcoholic, there are meetings labeled as “open meeting” where anyone can show up.

The Alcoholics Anonymous website also has many resources that can be helpful, such as 12 questions you can answer to see if you have the symptoms of an alcoholic.

If a student finds that they are an “at-risk” drinker or an alcoholic, there are many resources both on and off campus. If you want to build relationships with others going through the same thing, you can go to group meetings. If you prefer a one-on-one with a counselor we have the BASICS program. ATVN’s Veronica Quezada takes a look at these resources.  

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