Helpful Tips on Drinking

By Grace Wakim, MA

When you first came to USF as a student, you may have had some preconceived notions about the way in which alcohol would influence your college experience.  Maybe you felt excited to drink in college and pictured yourself at loud parties, having fun and making memories.  Maybe you felt some anxiety around alcohol and worried that you would be pressured to drink when you didn’t want to.  Maybe you assumed that USF was not a “party” school due to its Catholic status, or assumed the opposite due to its location in the notorious city of San Francisco. 

Whatever your thoughts, fears, and hopes about alcohol and college, chances are that there was some falsehood and some truth in each.  Although not all students drink, according to the CDC, 4 out of 5 college students (80%) drink alcohol, and roughly half of students who drink engage in binge drinking.  As a result of drinking too much or too frequently, many students encounter academic difficulties, depression, social and romantic complications, legal problems, injury, or even death.  Although these issues are alarming, it is important to recognize that if you do choose to drink, you can take steps to reduce these negative consequences to keep drinking safe and fun, and have the college experience you hoped for.

Before you go out:

  • Don’t forget to eat a full meal.
  • Decide before going out if you will drink, and if so, how many drinks you will have.
  • Plan your transportation for getting home before going out.  Don’t travel alone.
  • Make sure your cell phone is fully charged and you have your MUNI pass or emergency taxi money in case something goes wrong and you need to leave earlier than planned.

While you are drinking:

  • Keep track of the number of drinks you have consumed.
  • Try to drink water between drinks and throughout the course of the night.
  • Spread your drinking out over the evening - i.e. one drink per hour.
  • If you decide to play drinking games, be sure to take “breaks” from the game and just watch others play to avoid becoming too intoxicated.
  • Stay with your friends. 
  • If you do choose to leave your group, let your friends know where you are going and who you are going with.
  • Watch your drink.  Don’t leave your drink unattended or accept drinks from strangers.

After drinking:

  • Don’t take any acetaminophen-based painkillers (such as Tylenol) while there is still alcohol in your system.
  • Before you go to bed and as soon as you wake up the next morning, drink water to rehydrate yourself.  Pedialyte can also help to replenish electrolytes after a night of drinking.
  • If you drank a lot the night before, avoid driving the next morning.  You might still be legally intoxicated and risk getting a DUI.
  • Eat a hearty breakfast the next morning to settle your stomach and help give you energy.
  • For women, beware that hormone changes during certain times of the month may make you less likely to metabolize alcohol in your system.

Other important reminders:

Avoid drinking when…

  • You are sleep deprived.
  • You haven’t eaten sufficient food that day.
  • You are feeling sad, angry, or emotionally overwhelmed.  Drinking will often make you feel worse than before.
  • You are drinking because you feel pressured or feel like you have to, not because you want to.
  • You are with people you just met, or people you do not trust or feel uncomfortable around.
  • You have recently taken another substance or medication.  For more information on alcohol and medication  interactions, go here:

Understand your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC):

If you find that you are struggling to cut down on your drinking or are concerned for a friend, don’t be afraid to contact CAPS for help. Listed below are more links and resources:

Self-Help and Peer-Led Support Groups:

Harm-reduction information and tips for cutting down on drinking:

If you have a friend you believe has a drinking problem:

Overall...    Trust your instincts...     Watch out for yourself...     

and Watch out for others. 

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