For Drinkers Only

It’s the start of a new school year. For many students this means meeting new friends at parties and other activities. Also, sometimes parties include drinking. At Health Enhancement Services our concern isn’t whether students drink or not. Our top priority is keeping NIU students safe and healthy. For students who choose to drink, we want to provide any information that can help them drink safely. While most NIU students do drink (90 percent), virtually all (95 percent) think that an occasional drink that interferes with academics or other responsibilities is not OK.

Sometimes there will be a few students at a party who participate in drinking games. As visible as these games may be, most students (66 percent) do not participate in drinking games. Typically, participants in drinking games are inexperienced or younger drinkers. The games help these individuals overcome their dislike for the taste of alcohol and get past any social inhibitions they may have about drinking. In fact, twice as many freshmen play drinking games than other students.

Generally speaking, drinking games are designed to ensure the overconsumption of alcohol, and this increases the risk of injury or harm. Of students who played these games, 92 percent report that they did so in order to get drunk. Also, research has found that women are more at risk for alcohol- related harm when they participate in drinking games. This is because, on average, women drink five times their usual alcohol intake, while men drink three times their normal intake. Regardless, practically all students reported negative outcomes (vomiting, assaults, car crashes) from overconsumption as a result of playing drinking games.

In order to drink and get the most pleasure from drinking it is desirable to maintain a blood alcohol level of .05 or less. At or below a BAC of .05 most individuals do not increase their chances of incurring negative consequences as a result of drinking.

That way they are best able to receive the positive aspects of alcohol consumption such as increased ease in socializing and a relaxed sense of well-being. Actually, most NIU students do drink at these safe levels. When asked, 66 percent reported that they usually consume 5 or fewer drinks when partying.

As a more detailed guide to determine your safe drinking level, see the “Safe Drinking Level Chart” in today’s paper. By comparing your gender and weight with the length of time you will be drinking, you can find out the safe number of drinks to have during that time. Staying at or below this number will keep your BAC at the safe level of .05.

For more information about alcohol, health and safety please contact Health Enhancement Services at 753-9755.