Student Health Services advocates safe and responsible alcohol choices. If you choose to drink, you have to adapt some responsible behaviors or there can be consequences. Remember that you are responsible for your choices and your actions. Students report verbal abuse, physical fights, missing classes, unsafe sex, sexual assaults, and DUIs as a result of excessive alcohol use. These consequences affect not only you, but the people around you.
Alcohol is classed as a depressant, meaning that it slows down vital functions—resulting in slurred speech, unsteady movement, disturbed perceptions and an inability to react quickly.
As for how it affects the mind, it is best understood as a drug that reduces a person’s ability to think rationally and distorts his or her judgment.
Although classified as a depressant, the amount of alcohol consumed determines the type of effect. Most people drink for the stimulant effect, such as a beer or glass of wine taken to “loosen up.” But if a person consumes more than the body can handle, they then experience alcohol’s depressant effect. They start to feel “stupid” or lose coordination and control.
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)
Your BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) is the percentage of your blood volume that is alcohol. The more you drink, the more your BAC increases. As BAC increases, alcohol's effects become less pleasant and more dangerous.
Remember, the only thing that can decrease your BAC is time—not coffee or cold showers. Eating food during or shortly after drinking will only delay the speed at which the alcohol enters your bloodstream or your BAC reaches its peak level.
- A standard drink equals a ½ oz. of pure alcohol.
- A 12 oz. bottle or can of regular beer = 5 oz. glass of wine = 1 oz. shot of 100-proof liquor.
- Be aware of the signs of substance abuse and their consequences.
- If you feel like you might have a problem, talk with a trusted friend or professional.
Keep your BAC in check by:
- Setting a limit before you start drinking. More is not always better.
- Eating before you drink. Sandwich anyone?
- Choosing drinks with lower alcohol concentrations. Stick to the beer.
- Alternating a glass of water with each drink. Order it with your drink.
- Knowing when you've had enough.
A Note About Energy Drinks and Alcohol
- Caffeine’s stimulant effects hide the effects of alcohol. Basically, you are just as drunk but you feel it less. So it’s easier for you to drink past your safe limit, possibly to the point where you don’t even realize you’re one drink away from blacking out or ending up at the hospital.
- Because alcohol and caffeine are both diuretics, you will probably be more dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to disorientation, passing out, and seizures.
- Mixing a depressant (alcohol) and a stimulant (caffeine) confuses the body’s normal response to either substance. Alcohol slows the heart and caffeine speeds it up. Some experts say this could cause the body system to crash and lead to death, especially if the person has underlying health issues.