Party Smart Week‘ urges responsible drinking habits

By Tom Chadar

Having ten drinks in two hours can make one feel sick, and worse yet, unable to hold a steering wheel firmly.

That fact is being promoted by this week’s Party Smart National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week for those who may still doubt the fact.

The point is to know how to drink, when to drink and most importantly, how much to drink to avoid troubles worse than just the next morning’s hangover. The intentions are more realistic and may help people learn how to party smart.

Party Smart was created in 1988 by Beer Drinkers of America, a national non-profit consumer organization.

According to Bill Schreiber, president of Beer Drinkers of America, fighting for total abstinence when it comes to drinking is worthless.

“We should realize that many college students are consuming alcohol. I remember my college years, and I have a daughter who is a college student, and I think it is futile to deny that students are drinking. The issue is to fight alcohol abuse and to teach how to set the limits of what one can do,” Schreiber said.

Beer Drinkers of America does not pretend that youth wait exactly until midnight of their 21st birthday to try what the liquid inside a beer can tastes like.

“It looks that there may be some politicians who think that the age law can cut the whole problem off. This would mean closing eyes on the reality and, as I said, putting your head in a fan,” Schreiber said. “Meanwhile, young people should realize that this is the law. That means, if you are under 21 and you are drinking, you are already breaking the law.”

He said the organization concentrates on the real problem and tries to advise how to consume alcohol wisely.

Nancy Olenick of Beer Drinkers of America gives the following tips on how to party smart.

Know your limits and stay within them. Your body absorbs alcohol based on your weight, physical condition and general health.

Know what you are drinking. A martini, for instance, contains twice as much alcohol as most light beers.

If you are not sober or not sure, pass your keys to a friend. No suggestions are given on how to determine if one is sober or not. Illinois law sets a 0.8 blood/alcohol content limit as the border between a sober and a drunk driver.

“Most people don’t realize that a lot of students party smart already,” said Michael Haines, coordinator of University Health Enhancement Services. The students who are not partying smart tend to be more visible. Two thirds of NIU students are careful about the way they drink.

“Some of the cultural attitudes toward alcohol sometimes protect people. In some countries, for a man to appear drunk in public is the most inappropriate and childish behavior,” he said.

The tips for partying smart still are simple. “In any event where alcohol is being served, food items as well as non- alcoholic beverages must be available in at least equal quantities,” Haines said.

The events of Alcohol Awareness Week at NIU also are being coordinated by Greeks Advocating the Mature Management of Alcohol (GAMMA).