How to Drink Safely

By Kaitlyn Fowler

Elm Staff Writer

Every day college students around the world are drinking, oftentimes excessively and with dangerous consequences. One of the issues college students face when it comes to drinking is a lack of understanding of how to be a safe and responsible. Last school year, Washington College alone had 34 cases of alcohol poisoning. Many of these cases could have been avoided if the students had been responsible. “We know that if people are going to drink they will drink,” said Jerry Roderick, director of Public Safety. “What we want is for people to make good decisions in the process.”

It is popular belief that most college students drink and party heavily, but this stereotype is not factual. Many students do drink, but Roderick said, “It’s a small number of people that create the problem with irresponsible drinking.” Plenty of students drink responsibly, or don’t drink at all. When it comes to drinking responsibly, this can often be a multi-person endeavor. People should have a friend accompany them and keep an eye on them when drinking. If you see a friend getting drunk, Roderick said,“[There should be] intervention to make sure they don’t go further down that road.” Don’t let a friend’s drinking escalate to the point of sickness. If someone is used to drinking very little, or not at all, and they suddenly chug a large amount of alcohol, their body will not be prepared and could react very negatively.

Make sure you know what you are drinking when you pick up these classic red plastic cups.
Make sure you know what you are drinking when you pick up these classic red plastic cups.

Know your tolerance level, and if you are going to drink, make sure you aren’t dehydrated, drinking on an empty stomach, sick, or on any medication that could mix negatively with alcohol as these things can lower your tolerance. “There is always a risk coming with [drinking],” said Lauren Gibson, the director of Wellness and Prevention Education. “Anytime you put any drug in your mouth, there is a risk to it.” There are ways to lessen risk such as drinking water before and during your drinking. Gibson said, “If you’re going to host a party, provide water and provide food, because then you’re being a smart responsible party host.” Provide a way to help people alleviate the severity of their drinking. One of the most important things to keep in mind when drinking is “knowing what’s in your drink,” said Gibson. If you drink jungle juice, you could have one cup that contains five to six drinks worth of alcohol in it. When people drink, Gibson said that, “[the] first cognitive thinking gone is judgment,” said Gibson. In turn, it’s harder for drunken people to turn down drinks.

If you are in a situation where you believe one of your friends is suffering from alcohol poisoning, Roderick said, “Call Public Safety to assess the individual. It’s better for someone with more training to assess the situation.” If it is clear that the person is in immediate danger, such as if their breathing becomes extremely shallow or they are unconscious and can’t be woken up, Roderick said, “call the rescue squad. Sometimes time is of the essence.”

Drinking can be a fun way to take the edge off a difficult weekend. There are plenty of other things to do though, both in town and on campus, to relax. Try going to any of the countless free opportunities and activities.

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