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12-08 Mix of alcohol and drugs blamed in SUNY freshman fraternity pledge death

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Mix of alcohol and drugs blamed in SUNY freshman fraternity pledge death

A combination of alcohol and drugs is being blamed for the death of 18-year-old Daniel William Michaels, a State University of New York (SUNY), Oneonta freshman fraternity pledge. Michaels, who died on Dec. 2, 2017 was pledging the Alpha Pi fraternity which is not officially recognized by SUNY and operates independently. He was found in an unresponsive state late night at an off-campus house where the fraternity members lived. When efforts to revive him failed, he was taken to hospital shortly after midnight. He later died of cardiac arrest.

Preliminary reports indicated that Michaels’ bloodstream contained a mix of alcohol, amphetamines, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and benzodiazepines. While the level of alcohol was found to be below the legal limit, it could not be ascertained initially if the drugs were illegal, a mix of prescription medicines or administered by hospital staff during resuscitation.

Although an official cause of death has not yet been determined, Oneonta Police Chief Douglas W. Brenner said that Michaels’ death “certainly has something to do with the combination of substances in his system.” Brenner also mentioned that police was investigating if Michaels consumed the drugs voluntarily or if they were given to him without his knowledge. It is believed that Michaels attended a party sponsored by Alpha Pi to welcome new members into the fraternity. However, police do not suspect hazing to be the cause of death.

Alcohol-related hazing activities becoming a serious concern

Michaels’ death is not an isolated incident. It represents a growing concern posed by alcohol-related hazing activities taking place in fraternities and sororities. In a similar incident in November 2017, a freshman fraternity pledge at Florida State University (FSU) was found unresponsive after a party. While the cause of death is still being investigated, police suspect alcohol to be the cause of death. After the incident, FSU indefinitely suspended all its fraternities and sororities, and alcohol was banned at all student organization events during the suspension period.

In another shocking incident, a 19-year-old sophomore student of Pennsylvania State University died in February 2017 after a night of drinking and hazing. A recently-recovered video, which had earlier been deliberately deleted by a fraternity member in front of the police, showed that the victim, Timothy Piazza, was given 18 drinks in 82 minutes as part of a hazing ritual. Piazza subsequently stumbled and fell several times, including down a flight of stairs. The incident took place despite the fact that the fraternity was supposed to be alcohol-free following a suspension eight years ago.

Greek life has also been partially or completely suspended at other institutions including Texas State University, University of Michigan and Montana State University following alcohol-related and other types of misconducts committed by fraternity members.

Families also suffer

Many families have suffered tragedies after losing their children to alcohol-fueled hazing rituals in fraternities and sororities. Perhaps the root cause of the problem lies in the issue of underage drinking and the relatively easier availability of alcohol to youngsters.

Underage drinking is linked to a number of negative consequences like school-related problems, socio-legal problems, physical/sexual assault, higher risk of suicide, homicide and unintentional injury, lifelong impacts from changes in brain development, and death from alcohol poisoning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that alcohol is the most commonly used/abused substance among American youth. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 7.3 million people aged between 12 and 20 years (19.3 percent of the age group) reported current alcohol use during the year.

Helping adolescents recover from alcohol addiction

Addiction can affect individuals of all ages. However, teens are a particularly vulnerable age group. Since the brains of teens are still developing during adolescence, it is critical to provide early interventions and proper support from a credible rehab facility in case they are addicted to alcohol or any other substances.

The Rancho San Diego facility of Sovereign Health treats adolescents battling an addiction to alcohol and other substances. Our experts use a combination of medication and behavioral therapies to treat teenage alcohol addiction. The interventions are designed to address both the physical and psychological aspects of teen alcoholism. Call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online with our experts for more information on our teen alcohol rehab services.

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