September is the most dangerous month for campus drinking, particularly for freshmen who often don’t know their limits or the potential consequences of binge drinking at a Friday-night house party or Saturday morning pre-game. Here are a few tips from campus health professionals. (SLIDESHOW - Click or swipe to see all 10 tips)
IF YOU’RE DRINKING, EAT SOMETHING. This is no time to watch calories. Food slows the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, particularly fats and proteins. Some schools are opening dining halls early on game days with this in mind. So have a good breakfast before tailgating – the three-egg omelet is your friend.
USE TECHNOLOGY. The University of Michigan has a free mobile app called “Stay in the Blue.” It’s a standard blood-alcohol estimator; you punch in your gender and weight, and record your intake (there’s a menu of drink choices, including the lethal Irish Car Bomb). It tells you if you’re keeping it in the .06 range, under the state standard for drunk driving of .08. Anyone can download it – even Spartans.
KNOW YOUR DRINK. Did you see the punch being mixed? No? Give it a pass. Lots of alcohol can hide behind a sweet mixer like fruit juice. Also, remember when your mother dropped you off freshman year and begged you not to accept an open container from someone you don’t know or trust? She wasn’t being paranoid. Don’t take concoctions from strangers and never leave a drink unattended.
BRING A FRIEND. Students who are drinking are at a higher risk of assault, including sexual assault.
PACE YOURSELF. Sip your drink, don’t gulp. Alternate drinks with plain water; it keeps you hydrated so you drink less. Watch the clock and limit yourself to one or two an hour. Also, avoid shots. The alcohol in a shot glass, depending on its proof, is as much as you’d get in one or two beers. If you must drink hard liquor, use a mixer. And sip.
KNOW HOW YOU’RE GETTING HOME. Plan your ride so you’re not tempted to drink and drive.
NO GAMES, NO GIMMICKS. Drinking games are designed to get you hammered, fast. So are devices like beer bongs, funnels and whatever your engineering buddy jerry-rigged from used vacuum cleaner parts. Slow, slow, slow.
A WHITE LIE NEVER HURT ANYONE. Unenthusiastic drinkers have been secretly pouring cocktails into potted plants for generations. You can always claim to be taking medication that violently conflicts with alcohol. (“I’ll spare you the details.”) Not into shots? Take a tiny sip and go to the DJ to make a request, losing the drink along the way. Put lime wedges, cherries or other cocktail garnishes on glasses filled with plain soda or juice. In a bar, volunteer to fetch a round and ask the bartender to make yours a “mocktail” – they don’t mind. Use your imagination, college kid.
FINALLY, if you fear your drinking may already be a problem, or if you’re in search of moderation strategies, these links can help: