Alcohol and Drugs

Facts about alcohol use

  • 1,400 college students die each year from alcohol-related injuries
  • 500,000 college students are unintentionally injured while under the influence of alcohol
  • Over 600,000 students are assaulted by another student who has been drinking
  • More than 70,000 students report being victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape
  • Approximately 25% of college students report negative academic consequences due to their drinking (e.g. missing classes, doing poorly on exams or papers, receiving lower grades)
  • 31% of students meet criteria for a medical diagnosis of alcohol abuse and 6% meet criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence.

Low Risk Drinking Guidelines

There are always risks associated with alcohol and other substance use (health problems, addictions, accidents). However, many college students do chose to drink. For those who do, the following guidelines were developed by the American Medical Association (AMA) based on research with the general population. Individual factors (i.e., biological sex, family history) may impact the way your body processes alcohol, as well as, increase your vulnerability to developing health problems associated with alcohol use. The guidelines are based on a standard drink (see definition below). Following the guidelines lowers risk for short and long-term problems but does not eliminate risk.

A Standard Drink
  • 12 oz. beer
  • 8 oz. malt liquor/ “ice” beer
  • 4.5 oz. of wine (12% alcohol content)
  • 1.25 oz. shot (40% alcohol content) or 1 oz. shot (50% alcohol content)
Maximum Use
  • No more than 3 drinks per occasion (female) or 4 drinks per occasion (male)
  • Maintain BAC at .06 or less
Daily and Weekly Use
  • No more than one drink per day (female) or two drinks per day (male)
  • No more than a total of 7 drinks per week (female) or 14 drinks per week (male)
  • No more than one drink per hour
Those at risk with any use (zero use recommended)
  • People who are pregnant, may become pregnant or are nursing
  • People with diabetes, heart problems, liver problems or other serious health conditions
  • People taking medications which may interact with alcohol (e.g. sedatives, pain medication)
  • People experiencing significant emotional problems/distress or mental health conditions
  • People with a personal or family history of alcohol or substance abuse problems
  • People operating motorized vehicles
  • People engaged in activities requiring them to be alert and attentive (e.g. using machinery, engaged in sports activities)
  • People who are responsible for the care and safety of others
  • People who are not legally permitted to drink (underage)

Warning Signs of an Alcohol Problem

  • Not attending to work or school responsibilities due to drinking
  • Blackouts
  • Gulping drinking
  • Hiding or denying actual alcohol use
  • Increased tolerance to alcohol
  • Doing things while you’re drinking that you later regret
  • Injuring self or others due to drinking
  • Inability to stop drinking or set limits on your drinking
  • Legal problems associated with drinking (arrest, DUI, etc.)
  • Continued use despite problems associated with drinking
  • Other people expressing concern or complaining about your alcohol use

Concerned you might have a problem? Take a free, confidential alcohol abuse screening by clicking here.

How to Help a Friend

The following are some tips on how to help a friend that you believe might have an emotional, behavioral or alcohol/drug problem.

  1. Find a good time to talk. This usually means finding a time when you and your friend are in a private setting without other distractions (e.g. television turned off) and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  2. Tell your friend what you are concerned about.
  3. Be a good listener. This means being fully attentive and non-judgmental about what they say to you. Do not minimize or give simplistic solutions to their problems.
  4. Help them explore options and potential barriers or fears about changing.
  5. If appropriate, encourage them to utilize resources on campus (R.A., Advisor, Chaplain, Counseling Center).
  6. Be supportive in helping them get that help. For example, you might offer to walk with them to make an appointment.
  7. Follow-up. People will often resist help at first but will eventually seek help in time. Don’t give up if your friend is at first reluctant to change or get help.

For more information on how to make a referral to counseling, click on the following link (How to help a distressed student).

Alcohol and Substance Use Screenings

Please click here to take an alcohol or substance use screener.