Heightened emotions at the beginning of the semester, including excitement and stress, can influence people to use alcohol or drugs differently than they normally would. After an unpredictable year, it’s understandable that some people may want to let loose or throw parties. If you choose to drink or use other substances, here are some things to keep in mind.
If you choose to drink or use other substances, think through the experiences you want to have as well as those you want to avoid. Remember that not everyone uses substances while in college. If you choose not to use, that’s okay too.
Here are a few examples to help you use more intentionally:
If I use ___[substance]___, I want to…
If I use ___[substance]___, I don’t want to…
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:
First, thinking is dampened.
Then, body control is dulled.
Finally, basic body functions are impaired.
If you choose to drink, eat a snack or meal and drink water before you start drinking. It’s also important to stay hydrated as you go. Try switching between water and alcoholic drinks throughout the night. You can also bring a snack or pick-up takeout on your way if you get hungry.
Set a limit and stick to it
Alcohol affects everyone differently. Some of us may have a higher tolerance or different drinking limits. Set a limit that feels right for you and stick to it. It can be helpful to enlist a friend to keep both of you accountable for your drinking. Remember to drink at your own pace and avoid trying to keep up with others.
If you ever feel pressured to do things you’re uncomfortable with, know your “no.” For instance, if you’re done drinking, consider filling your cup with water to avoid additional refills or if you’re ready to leave, remind your friends that you have work or studying to do in the morning for a smooth goodbye. Knowing serving sizes can also help you know how many drinks you’ve had: 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer each count as one drink.
A typical plastic cup holds 16 oz. which is more than 'one drink.'
Avoid mixing prescription drugs with alcohol. This is a common cause of overdose. Additional unwanted experiences include passing out, blacking out, feeling sick and doing something regrettable.
Get home safe
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.
No means no
Sometimes drinking can lead to unintended consequences (like hooking up with your roommate or kissing your ex). Navigating sex can be complicated, especially if alcohol or other drugs are involved. Check out this article to learn how alcohol and other drugs can affect sex and consent.
Take care of your friends
If someone is exhibiting signs of alcohol poisoning or an overdose, call 911 for help.
If you see someone with these symptoms, they may be experiencing alcohol poisoning:
If you see someone with these symptoms, they may be experiencing a drug overdose:
Call 911. While you wait for paramedics to arrive, do the following:
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: