Many Pacific University students choose not to use alcohol at all, while some choose to drink in moderation. However, studies show that most students who do choose drink do so responsibly. Knowing how to stay safe when you or someone you know is drinking is a worthy endeavor. If you or a friend decides to drink alcohol, keep in mind the following tips:
- Chow down. Eat a substantial meal before you go out to a party or bar. Bread products and foods high in protein, like milk and cheese, slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream by coating your stomach and small intestine. Nibbling on finger foods throughout the night can also slow the intoxication process.
- Be well hydrated. Make certain that you drink plenty of water before you start drinking any alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic and it will cause you to become dehydrated. The more alcohol you drink, the thirstier you feel. Having plenty of water in your system will keep you from feeling thirsty and you will drink more slowly. Drinking slowly is the best way to enjoy alcohol and avoid blacking out or passing out.
- Plan your transportation. Never drive to a drinking event. The most sensible thing is to leave your car keys at home. Walking or using public transportation is the most sensible thing. If you drink at a friend's house you may even arrange to sleep over and leave when you are sober in the morning. Do not drink on impulse when your only means of getting home is driving. If you plan to ride use public transportation it is a good idea to travel with a friend for added safety.
- Travel in pairs. It is always a good idea to have a good friend at your side when you participate in a drinking event. A couple of ways friends can help keep each other safe is by helping each other limit their drinks, holding one another accountable for respecting their limits, and making sure they arrive and leave together.
- Schedule your drinking. Plan to abstain from alcohol when you have important things to do the next day. The party is not worth blowing your final exam. Too many drinking days in the semester can take away valuable time needed for school works--so planning and scheduling your drinking days is an important priority.
- Sip or sink. Drink each alcoholic beverage slowly. Remember, your liver can only handle about one serving of alcohol an hour (i.e., 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, or 1-1.5 oz. of hard liquor). Rapid consumption of alcohol via shots, funnels, and drinking games are sure to win you a big hangover.
- Don't let strangers pour your drinks. There’s no way to know what or how much you’re drinking.
- Don't drink your age. You may have heard of a game at birthday parties--drinking one shot for each year of your life. This can be fatal. Drinking a large number of shots in rapid succession can lead to alcohol poisoning. Don't try drinking your age--slow down and enjoy the alcohol. Don't ask your friends to drink their age either. Giving someone a case of alcohol poisoning is definitely bad form even if they survive. It can be criminal if they don't.
- Coffee won't sober you up. The idea that coffee will sober you up is pure myth. The body metabolizes approximately one standard drink per hour until the alcohol is out of your system. Drinking coffee may make you more wakeful--but it will not make you fit to drive.
- Drink for the right reasons. Social occasions and celebrations may be pretty good reasons for having a drink. Reducing stress, releasing anger, or trying to prove something to someone are unhealthy motivations for alcohol consumption and may actually quicken the intoxication process and increase nasty side effects.
- Hold that line. You're probably familiar with your tolerance of alcoholic beverages (the point when the alcohol you've consumed begins to cause noticeable physical and psychological changes). Crossing your line can easily lead to poor judgment calls and a bad hangover at best. Challenge yourself to hold that line — set and state a drink max before you go out — your body and friends will thank you tomorrow.
- Pace yourself. Hangover helpers and healthy drinkers recommend one drink per hour as a guide. This rate gives your body a chance to process the alcohol without sending it special delivery to your head. Try to limit yourself to three or four drinks in a 24-hour period and not more than once or twice a week
Adapted from: AHRCS—Alcohol Harm Reduction for College Students and Go Ask Alice at Columbia University
What's In a Standard Drink?
Do you know what constitutes as one serving of beer or one serving of hard liquor? How about one serving of wine or one serving of malt liquor? Knowing what’s in a standard drink can help you to count your drinks more accurately, pace yourself, and stay within a responsible limit.
One standard drink is:
- 12 oz. of beer
- 8-9 oz. of malt liquor
- 4 oz. of wine
- 1-1.5 oz. of hard liquor
Knowing what’s in a standard drink can be particularly important when considering mixed drinks. Although they may only come in one glass, most mixed drinks contain more than one serving of alcohol. For example, a Long Island Iced Tea can contain anywhere from 4-6 standard drinks. To learn more about how to measure your drinks and to stay within a healthy limit, check out the NIAAA drink calculator.