Misusing Alcohol

What is High Risk Alcohol Use?

High risk drinking is characterized by a number of different drinking habits that puts a person at increased risk of experiencing negative consequences.

Binge drinking is defined as 5 drinks in one sitting for a man, and 4 drinks for a woman. Binge drinking puts a person at increased risk of physical harm, developing an alcohol dependency, earning poor grades, and being a victim of violence. Other high risk drinking behaviors or patterns include:

  • Chugging or gulping drinks
  • Playing drinking games
  • Drinking while on medication, or while ill
  • Drinking to get drunk
  • Drinking to the point of blacking out or passing out
  • Using alcohol as a "social lubricant"
  • Socializing only with people who drink heavily
  • Family history of drinking problems

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is a serious condition that can be a consequence of drinking too much alcohol. Consuming high quantities of alcohol quickly can affect your breathing, heart rate, and gag reflex. A fatal dose of alcohol will essentially stop these functions all-together.

It is important to know that a person's BAC can continue to rise after they have gone to sleep.

The person who has alcohol poisoning needs immediate medical attention. If you are on campus you should call the Department of Public Safety at 5111 or get your Resident Assistant. If you are off campus call 911. Some of the signs include:

  • Mental confusion, stupor, coma, or person cannot be roused
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute)
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness

Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse

The National Institute of Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse explains that alcoholism is a disease that includes four symptoms:

  • Craving: A strong need, or urge, to drink.
  • Loss of control: Not being able to stop drinking once drinking has begun.
  • Physical dependence: Withdrawal symptoms, such as upset stomach, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping drinking.
  • Tolerance: The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get "high.

Many college students think that if they are not alcoholics then their drinking is not a problem for them. The Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index identifies 7 categories of negative consequences:

  1. Physiological problems
  2. Academic problems
  3. Social problems
  4. Aggressive behavior
  5. Drunk driving/riding
  6. Sexual risk taking
  7. Victimization

These negative consequences can impact a student's ability to reach their full potential during their college years.

Support for Quitting

Talking to someone on campus can be a good way to start the process. You can visit the Counseling Center, Student Health Services, Dean of Students, or Campus Ministry. These offices can also provide off-campus referrals. Visit the Getting Help page for more information.