Making your own decisions about alcohol

Post by Kelly White, M.Ed., C.H.E.S., UBC Wellness Centre Coordinator

Making decisions around alcohol use is an individual choice that most students are faced with at some point during their university experience. There’s a lot to consider including whether or not to drink, how much to drink, how regularly, and what kinds of activities to take part in when drinking.

To feel comfortable in your personal decisions about drinking alcohol you can start thinking about them before you arrive at a party or start drinking. This includes knowing the facts, knowing your own values, and ultimately making up your own mind.

How alcohol affects the body

Gathering facts and information is a great way to start. In particular, it’s important to know the effects of alcohol on your body.

Your blood alcohol content (BAC) is determined by several factors including:

  • how much and how quickly you drink
  • gender
  • age
  • body weight
  • other unique factors

Alcohol affects each person differently. For example, four or more drinks in two hours for a man who weighs between165 and 195 pounds may cause impairment in reasoning and a lowered sense of caution.

Knowing your limits

Knowing the potential impact of your BAC, you can start to build some healthier habits when drinking. This could include having fewer drinks per hour and keeping track of the number of drinks in a sitting. Canada’s Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines suggest no more than two drinks for women and no more than three drinks for men on most days of the week, with recommendations not to exceed 10 drinks a week for women and 15 for men.

Looking out for friends

When it comes to drinking, looking out for friends is important as well. Before going out to a party, talk to your friends about their plans for the night. How will they get home safely? How many drinks do they plan on having? What activities could they regret later, and can friends step in to help prevent this?

These conversations can help everyone have a safer time and avoid regret the next day. As well, planning ahead can help you avoid the peer pressure that sometimes exists to drink more or participate in risky activities like neknominations or other drinking games. It can also help you avoid potentially embarrassing or compromising situations including injuries or unprotected sex.

Consider what matters to you

Drinking socially can be safer and more enjoyable if you act in ways that align with your values and our priorities. If you consider what matters to you and you know the facts about alcohol, you can drink responsibly and contribute to a safer campus community for everyone.

Resources

Alcohol and drugs information on students.ubc.ca

Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

Bingedrinking.ca

MADD fact sheet on blood alcohol concentration (BAC)