Two state agencies seem to offer advice to “Vodka Samm”

By now you’ve likely heard the “epic” tale of “Vodka Samm” — the University of Iowa student arrested before Iowa’s Saturday, August 31 football game whose blood alcohol level was .341.  (If you don’t get the “epic” reference, the young woman tweeted this from jail: “I’m going to get .341 tattooed on me because it’s so epic.”)

On Wednesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health issued a news release with this sobering headline:  College Binge Drinking: Consequences can be Deadly

College and university classes have resumed, the collegiate football season is underway, and campus activities are in full swing. Young people, especially in college settings, have long been known for partying and occasionally over-drinking. This excessive drinking, however, is not just fun and games. Binging can lead to health problems, risky behaviors, black outs and sexual assaults. According to the CDC, this is especially true for women. A recent CDC survey found college-age women are more likely to binge drink than their male counterparts, and nearly 14 million women binge drink an average of three times a month, consuming an average of six drinks per episode.

“Iowa’s binge drinking rate (28.6 percent among Iowans age 12 and older) is significantly higher than the national average of 23.5 percent,” said Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Substance Abuse Prevention Bureau Chief DeAnn Decker. “This may be because Iowans have a much lower perception of its danger than the national average.” Binge drinking can lead to health problems like heart disease, certain types of cancers, sleeping disorders and liver disease. Of equal or greater concern, however, is the immediate and devastating impact binge drinking can have on an individual.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:

  • 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.
  • 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
  • 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
  • 400,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 had unprotected sex and more than 100,000 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex.

Alcohol poisoning can cause death. A person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can continue to rise even while he or she is passed out. Even after a person stops drinking, alcohol in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. It is dangerous to assume the person will be fine by sleeping it off. Critical signs of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Mental confusion, stupor, coma, or person cannot be roused.
  • Vomiting.
  • Seizures.
  • Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute).
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths).
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness.

Prevention of binge drinking is a priority issue for the Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant, funded by SAMHSA. Currently, 23 Iowa counties are implementing strategies to reduce binge drinking among young adults. To learn about the counties participating in the grant, and Iowa’s strategic plan to address binge drinking, visit The Iowa Substance Abuse Information Center has additional information about substance abuse prevention and recovery at

One of the department’s administrators talked with Radio Iowa about the issue.

Today, the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division, a state agency that is the wholesaler for liquor and alcohol in Iowa, issued a news release on the topic with this headline:  Stay safe when tailgating at football games.

Football season started off with a bang last weekend and with that comes the popular tradition of tailgating. With every tailgate comes a large amount of drinking and partying. Students and fans can get easily carried away by the party atmosphere.

To make sure you are staying smart and safe, keep track of how much you are drinking. People often underestimate the amount of alcohol consumption that occurs during football games and tailgating events. Drinking in moderation limits recommend no more than four drinks for men and three drinks for women on any single day.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and always remember to eat. Arrange for a sober ride home before a day of alcohol consumption.

Planning ahead could save your life and the lives of others. Have a fun and memorable year by choosing to be safe and smart when drinking alcohol.
Visit the Division’s social media for more information and related resources. and 

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.