Alcoholic beverages are a popular part of social gatherings in college life, and come in the form of beer, wine, or liquor. When consumed moderately and responsibly, alcohol poses much less of a health risk than if excessive amounts of alcohol are consumed in dangerous situations. Drinking responsibly involves being educated about how much alcohol is in your drink, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and the environment in which you choose to drink.

Most of the mixed drinks you find at parties and bars contain more alcohol than the standard drink proportion, which means that in order to drink responsibly, you have to pay attention to how much alcohol is put in your drink. The standard alcoholic beverage contains 0.6 fl. oz. of alcohol. This translates into the following serving sizes:

  • 12 fl. oz. glass of beer
  • 4 fl. oz. glass of wine
  • 1 fl. oz. glass of 40% ABV liquor

Your BAC is the percentage of alcohol in your blood as you drink. Below are BAC charts for men and women that track the number of standard drinks consumed, the time period of consumption, and the individual’s weight. The chart is color-coded to show different levels of intoxication.

If you choose to drink, here are some ways to control your environment and keep your friends and yourself as safe as possible:

  • Avoid energy drinks or drinks that combine alcohol and any amount of caffeine.
  • Have a designated driver who does not drink any alcohol at all.
  • Try to stay in one place.
  • Eat a large meal before you drink.
  • Alternate alcoholic beverages with water all night.
  • Set a limit of how many drinks you will have that night that helps you stay at a healthy BAC level and stick to it.
  • Keep track of how many drinks your friends have had – help each other and make a deal to cut each other off after a certain point.
  • Don’t smoke or take any other drugs while you are drinking.
  • If you are on medications, consult your doctor before drinking to ensure that moderate drinking is safe for you.

Alcohol can be an addictive substance. If your drinking habits have significantly changed and you feel that you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed below, seek help from your healthcare provider and talk to them about ways you can regulate your drinking habits.

Possible indicators of alcohol addiction:

  • losing control of yourself while drinking,
  • repeatedly neglecting responsibilities at home, school, work,
  • repeatedly driving while under the influence of alcohol,
  • experiencing legal problems because of your drinking,
  • drinking in spite of relationship problems with friends, family, and significant others,
  • drinking as a way to relieve stress,
  • giving up activities because they interfere with drinking,
  • inability to quit drinking,
  • underestimating the amount that you drink.

Below is a list of resources that provides more information about responsible drinking, the dangers of college drinking, and ways to get help if you are suffering from an alcohol addiction.

Last Updated: 6/13/2011