The transition to college life comes with all sorts of challenges. In addition to going to class and making the grade, going out, meeting new people, and making important decisions are all part of the college experience. Drinking alcohol may at times be part of this experience.

Alcohol is a drinkable substance that has ethyl alcohol (ethanol) and typically produced by fermenting grains and fruits. Alcohol acts as a depressant, meaning that it can suppress or slow down parts of the brain that control important bodily functions, such as breathing.

Your body, particularly your liver, can only process a certain amount of alcohol at a given time. Your liver can process one standard drink, which is a unit of measurement used to define how much “pure” alcohol is in a beverage, per hour. Drinking a lot of alcohol in a short amount of time raises your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) quickly and dramatically increases the chances of experiencing serious consequences.

High-risk drinking, also known as “binge drinking,” is defined as 4 or more drinks for women or 5 or more drinks for men in about a 2 hour time span. This type of drinking greatly increases the risk of alcohol poisoning, car crashes, drunk driving arrests, sexual assault, and injuries.

National data shows that annually:
• 1,825 college students deaths are attributable to alcohol;
• 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking such as missing class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades;
• 696,000 college students are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol consumption has different effects on the body depending on the size, weight, and sex of a person as well as the amount of alcohol consumed in a given time period. The chart below gives a general description of what happens to your body when you reach a certain blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

BAC Physical Effect
0.02% Relaxed
0.04% Relaxation continues; Buzz develops
0.06% Cognitive judgment is impaired
0.08% Nausea can appear; Motor coordination is impaired
0.10% Clear deterioration in cognitive judgment and motor coordination
0.15% – 0.25% Blackouts
0.25% – 0.35% Pass out; Lose consciousness; Risk of death
0.40% – 0.45% Lethal dose

Know the signs of alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol poisoning signs include:

Take Action

Reduce Your Risk

Consuming alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal. If you choose to drink alcohol, there are several ways to minimize negative consequences.

• Plan your night out
• Know your limit: Set a drink limit and stick to that number
• Eat before and while drinking
• Pace yourself at 1 drink per hour, or space it out further
• Sip your drink
• Keep track of how much you consume
• Avoid excessive drinking or binge drinking
• Avoid shots and drinking games
• Respect a person’s decision not to drink
• Drink water/non-alcoholic beverages between alcoholic ones
• Beware of unfamiliar drinks
• Limit drinking on a hot day
• Figure out your ride home before you go out

Help someone with alcohol poisoning

When you see someone exhibiting signs, call 911 immediately. If they are passed out/unresponsive and won’t wake up, use the Recovery Maneuver:

Help someone seek substance abuse services for alcohol misuse/abuse

The UF Counseling and Wellness Center provides individual and group services for students wanting to stop or cut back on their alcohol use.

Resources

Educate yourself on alcohol. These sites provide risk assessments, information, and tips for quitting or reducing use.

eCheckup – Alcohol
Drink size calculator
Drink tracker cards
What is your pattern?
How to go out and get back safely
NIAAA Rethinking Drinking
Standard drink sizes
Explore the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s Virtual Bar
“That guy”
Information about alcohol and energy drinks and their associated consequences
Alcohol and You: An Interactive Body
Alcohol Myths
Interactive tools and worksheets to evaluate alcohol use