ALCOHOL USE AT COLLEGE

NOT ALL COLLEGE STUDENTS DRINK ALCOHOL BUT FOR MANY STUDENTS THE USE OF ALCOHOL AT COLLEGE IS OFTEN VIEWED AS SOMETHING THAT IS JUST A TYPICAL PART OF COLLEGE LIFE. THE PROBLEM IS THAT MANY COLLEGE STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN BINGE DRINKING (EPOSODIC HEAVY DRINKING) THAT CAN HAVE NEGATIVE OR DANGEROUS CONSEQUENCES.

WHAT IS BINGE DRINKING

Binge drinking is defined by 5 or more drinks for men and 4 or more drinks for women in a row in a short period of time (2 hours). Drinking is measured in two ways, frequency-how often a person drinks and quantity-how much they consume when drinking. To make drinks equivalent, quantity is measured in “standard drinks”. In the U.S. one standard alcoholic drink is:

One person might consume 12 drinks per week over four different occasions, while another might consume 12 drinks all on one night. Due to greater risk of intoxication, accidents, health effects, and social consequences, the latter pattern (12 drinks all at once) is more worrisome and dangerous. Binge drinking is the consumption of a large amount of alcohol in a short amount of time.

BINGE DRINKING AMONG COLLEGE STUDENTS

College students may not drink daily or frequently but when they do drink on occasion, they are consuming large amounts of alcohol in short amounts of time which leads to heavy intoxication with negative and sometimes dangerous or deadly consequences. Binge drinking contributes to health-related issues because college students quickly become heavily intoxicated. Consequences include:

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ALCOHOL AND SEX AT COLLEGE

Alcohol plays a big role in unsafe sex practices among college students; especially with the prevalence of binge drinking. It may seem like alcohol eases social hang-ups, but they make it easier to engage in risky sex behaviors that can have long-term consequences.

Drinking can impair your judgment and make you act in ways you wouldn’t if you were sober. When your brain isn’t alert, you’re in no position to make big decisions. You want to make decisions about sex when you are sober.

Young adults who use alcohol are less likely to use condoms and dental dams during sex. Even if they do have condoms; often they use them incorrectly because they are impaired from alcohol intake.

Using condoms is the most effective way to avoid getting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) but that means you have to have condoms available at all times and being sober enough to use them correctly.

On college campuses reports of date rape occur frequently and in many cases date rape is linked to alcohol use.

Alcohol use by the victim, perpetrator, or both, has been implicated in 75% of date rapes on college campuses.  

78% of women on college campuses report having experienced sexual aggression on a date, and dates on which sexual aggression occurred were more likely to include heavy drinking or drug use.  

Whether you are on a date, at the club dancing, or kicking it at a campus party, it is important to keep your partying on the safe side. You should:

Carry condoms at all times even if you aren’t intending on having sex,

Go to parties with a close friend that you trust and look out for each other; don’t leave the party without that friend

Limit the number of drinks you have.

For resources for victims of sexual violence, click here.

BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT LEVEL

Every state in the U.S. has passed a law making it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. A driver can also be arrested with a BAC below .08 if the police officer has probable cause, based on the driver’s behavior.

Law enforcement and medical professionals use blood alcohol content calculators known as BAC calculators to measure individual blood levels. BAC calculators do not measure the amount of drinks a person has, it calculates the level of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream by factoring in the number of drinks, percentage of alcohol, a person’s weight, a person’s gender, and the time of their last drink. Typically this number is measured by the mass of alcohol per unit of volume of blood.

Generally, BAC is a commonly used measure for legal or medical purposes, and can be conducted through a blood test or with a breathalyzer. If law enforcement finds an individual’s BAC level is above the legal limit permitted by law, the person could face charges and/or jail time.

BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT LEVEL FOR MEN

For example, on the Blood Alcohol Content Chart for men, a man weighing 140 pounds only needs to consume 3 drinks to reach a BAC of .08.

BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT LEVEL FOR WOMEN

For example, on the Blood Alcohol Content Chart for women, a woman weighing 120 pounds only needs to consume 2 drinks to reach a BAC of .08.

EFFECT AT CERTAIN BAC LEVELS

It is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher in all states in the U.S. But driving while under the influence is not the only dangerous thing that can happen while consuming alcohol. Let’s highlight the effects alcohol has on people at certain BAC levels.

BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT LEVEL EFFECT(S)
.02-.03 No loss of coordination, Slight euphoria, Loss of shyness, Mildly relaxed, Maybe a little lightheaded, and Depressant effects are not apparent
.04-.06 Feeling of well-being, Relaxation, Lower inhibitions, Sensation of warmth, Euphoria, Minor impairment of reasoning & memory, and Lowering of caution
.07-.09 Slight impairment of balance, speech, vision, reaction time & hearing, Euphoria, Judgment & self-control are reduced, Reduced caution, Reason & memory are impaired, and Belief that you are functioning better then you really are
.10-.12 Significant impairment of motor coordination, Loss of good judgment,’ Slurred speech, Blurred vision, Impaired hearing, Impaired reaction time, and Euphoria
.13-.15 Gross motor impairment, Lack of physical control, Blurred vision, Major loss of balance, Euphoria is reduced, Dysphoria is beginning to appear, Severely impaired judgment & perception
.16-.19 Dysphoria predominates, Nausea may appear, and Appearance of being a “sloppy drunk”
.20 Feeling dazed & confused, Disoriented, May need help walking or standing, May not feel pain if injured, May have nausea or vomiting, Gag reflex is impaired and choking on vomit is possible, and Blackouts are possible
.25 All mental, physical & sensory functions are severely impaired, Increased risk of asphyxiation from choking on vomit, and Seriously injuring yourself by falls or other accidents
.30 Stupor, No comprehension of where you are, and May pass out and be difficult to awaken
.35 Coma is possible
.40 Onset of coma, and Possible death due to respiratory arrest