Photo of students lined up with their caps and gowns for graduation.

Summer break, graduation, the end of finals–there are plenty of reasons to celebrate! As many of us prepare for life’s transitions, it may feel like a time to celebrate or let loose. Heightened emotions, including excitement or uncertainty, can cause people to take more risks while drinking or using other substances. Here are some tips for celebrating safely at the end of the year. 

Before you go out

Reflect on your intentions

It’s important to remember that not everyone uses substances while in college. If you choose to drink or use drugs, think through the experiences you want to have as well as those you’d rather avoid. Here are some examples to help you reflect on your intentions before going out:

If I use ___[substance]___, I want to…

  • Celebrate with friends.
  • Blow off steam or escape from stress, anxiety, etc.
  • Meet new people.
  • Lower my inhibitions and socialize more easily.

If I use ___[substance]___, I don’t want to…

  • Lose control, pass out, black out or forget what happened.
  • Overdose or experience alcohol poisoning.
  • Do something I’ll regret (e.g. hook up with someone, get into a fight, text an ex, etc.).
  • Deal with hangovers or comedowns.
  • Feel pressured into doing something I wouldn’t otherwise do.

If you’re interested in exploring your relationship with substances or learning more about alcohol and other drugs, check out our Alcohol and Other Drugs resource page

Pick and choose 

Going out can be fun, but if you’re tired, need to make it to work or just need some downtime, it’s okay to stay in. Prioritize your own needs and what will make you feel good long term, not just in the moment. If you choose to drink, be mindful of how alcohol may affect you.

Set a limit and know your ‘no’

Alcohol affects everyone differently. This means that our tolerance and limits may look different from those around us. Before you go out, set a limit that feels right for you. It can be helpful to enlist a friend to keep you both accountable for your drinking. Remember to go at your own pace and avoid trying to keep up with others.

If you are worried you may be pressured to drink or use drugs in ways you’re not comfortable with, know your ‘no.’ These strategies can help you manage peer pressure and avoid uncomfortable situations.

Photo of different drink sizes based on a red solo cup, including 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer each count as one drink.

  • If you’re done drinking, consider filling your cup with water to avoid unwanted refills. 
  • If you’re ready to leave, let your friends know that you have work in the morning. 
  • If someone at a party is making you feel uncomfortable, enlist the help of your friends to get out of sketchy situations.
  • Keep track of how many drinks you have had based on standard serving sizes (1.5 ounces of hard liquor, 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer each count as one drink). 

You can use one or all of these strategies to stay safe while celebrating. You can also come up with your own strategies if these don’t feel like a good fit for you.

While you're out

Stay hydrated

If you choose to drink, remember to eat a snack or meal and drink water before you start drinking. It’s also important to stay hydrated throughout the day/night. Try switching between water and alcoholic drinks. You can also bring a snack or pick up takeout on your way if you get hungry.

Avoid mixing

Avoid mixing drugs with alcohol, including prescription medications. This can increase the risk of overdose. It can also lead to additional unwanted experiences like passing out, blacking out, feeling sick and doing something regrettable. 

Avoid accidental fentanyl overdoses

Fentanyl (an opiate roughly 50 times more powerful than heroin) has been detected in counterfeit pills circulating Boulder County, including Oxy (i.e. M30s) and Xanax. 

Fentanyl can also be mixed with other substances, including non-prescriptions like MDMA and cocaine. Assume that any drug not purchased directly from a pharmacy has the potential to contain a lethal dose of fentanyl. 

If you choose to use prescription or illegal drugs, carry Naloxone (brand name Narcan) to help reverse accidental overdoses. Naloxone is available for free with a Buff OneCard at the Wardenburg Health Center Pharmacy.

Learn about fentanyl and how to respond to an overdose.

Getting home safe

Make a plan and stick to it

Make plans with friends before going out and stick to them. If plans need to change, talk about it together. Ensure that everyone gets home safe by designating a driver, taking public transit or using a rideshare like Lyft or Uber. Never leave someone behind with people you just met or don’t know very well.

Take care of your friends

If someone is exhibiting signs of alcohol poisoning or an overdose, call 911 for help.

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning can include:

  • Passed out and unresponsive
  • Fewer than 12 breaths per minute
  • Vomiting while passed out
  • Pale/bluish or cool/clammy skin
  • Uncontrolled peeing or pooping

Symptoms of an overdose can include:

  • Pinpoint (small) pupils

  • Shallow or no breathing

  • Blue or grayish lips/fingernails

  • No response to stimulus (i.e. being pinched)

  • Gurgling/heavy wheezing or snoring sound

CU Boulder Amnesty Policy

Calling for help in an alcohol- or drug-related emergency means neither the person who calls for help nor the person who needs help will be subject to formal disciplinary sanctions by the university (i.e., probation, suspension, expulsion). 

To be covered by the Amnesty Policy, a student must:

  • Call for help (911 or university staff).
  • Stay with the individual until help arrives.
  • Cooperate with staff and emergency responders.

911 Good Samaritan Law

The 911 Good Samaritan Law states that a person is immune from criminal prosecution for an offense when the person reports, in good faith, an emergency drug or alcohol overdose even to a law enforcement officer, to the 911 system or to a medical provider. 

This same immunity applies to persons who remain at the scene of the event until a law enforcement officer or an emergency medical responder arrives, or if the person remains at the facilities of the medical provider until a law enforcement officer, emergency medical responder or medical provider arrives. The immunity described above also extends to the person who suffered the emergency drug or alcohol overdose event.

Additional resources

Party smart

Learn how to register your party, avoid citations and ways to practice safe alcohol and drug consumption.

Free substance use workshops

There are a variety of workshops and classes available to support students as they reflect on their relationship with alcohol and other substances. Here are a few workshops that are available:

  • Exploring Substance Use Workshop
  • Alcohol Impact Circles
  • Buffs Discuss Substance Use

*Workshops are not considered therapy or substance abuse treatment.

Collegiate Recovery Center (CUCRC)

The CUCRC provides support meetings, recovery-focused housing, events and activities, peer support and more for students in recovery or interested in pursuing recovery from drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, self-harm, other addictions and unwanted behaviors. 

The CUCRC is also open for studying, socializing and drop-in support. If you’re interested in participating at the Recovery Center, be sure to check out the weekly meeting schedule or sign up to receive notifications about events and other activities. 

Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS)

CAPS provides a number of services related to substance use, including:

  • Substance use assessments
  • Brief individual therapy
  • Support for concerned friends and family members
  • Referrals to recovery and other community resources
  • Suboxone treatment