Alcohol has been used for centuries to relax and as part of rituals and rites of passage. Alcohol’s link with college is well entrenched and can cause devastating harm if misused. Problems can be academic, social, legal, or health-related. The more you drink, the greater your risks. And unfortunately, one single incident can lead to irreparable damage. This sheet is about how you can help prevent that harm from occurring to you, and to those you care about.
Why Do You Drink?
The vast majority of Stanford students drink lightly, or not at all. This often involves a conscious choice, but can also result from unconscious motivations. Becoming aware of why you drink helps you to make better decisions, and reduces your risk of harm.Do you drink to:
- Get a break from your daily routine?
- De-stress from academics?
- Reward yourself?
- Because it is available?
- Feel less inhibited in social situations?
- Fit in with others while they are drinking?
- Express feelings that are difficult to express when you're sober?
- Suppress painful feelings such as shame, anger, sadness, or loneliness?
When you use alcohol to repress or deal with life's challenges, you miss an opportunity to grow and to develop effective coping skills. Following are some alcohol alternatives to try:
- Talking with close friends and family
- Stress reduction techniques
- Going to a movie with friends
- Eating some dark chocolate (it’s actually good for you!)
- Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief
- Professional help
To Prevent Harm
Here are "alcohol first aid tips" to help you prevent harm from too much drinking:
- Never drink when you are sad or upset
- Don’t over drink; set limits beforehand (no more than 4 drinks)
- Avoid hard liquor and shots
- Alternate a non-alcoholic drink (water) between alcoholic drinks
- Set up a buddy system, and stay together (don't abandon intoxicated friends or let them wander away; make sure they get home safely)
- Don't let someone drive or even ride their bike home if they have had too much to drink.
- Call 9-911 for help if an intoxicated person can't be awakened or is unresponsive (it's more important to save a life than worry about the cost, hassle and embarrassment of an Emergency Room visit)
Are you worried that a friend's (or your own) alcohol consumption is a problem? Has drinking become automatic or excessive? Is there trouble with academics, friends, accidents or injuries, or the University or police? Some students with alcohol problems can regain control by deliberately planning ahead to avoid alcohol-related consequences. But some students need professional help. To better understand the seriousness of a friend's (or your own) drinking pattern, see our web site's quick self assessment checklist under "Resources," below.
Surveys show that drinking often has an unwanted impact on other students (e.g., noise, mess, disruption, group reputation). But it is challenging for those students speak up. Educate yourself and each other, and discuss these problems openly. Vaden’s alcohol educator can help your community deal with alcohol issues constructively. Call 723-3429.