Don’t get ShamROCKED; Drink Smarter this Saint Patrick’s Day

Get ready for leprechauns, shamrocks and the luck of the Irish! Saint Patrick’s Day is a celebration of the patron saint Patrick and typically involves extensive celebrations, parades, and parties. While celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, some students use the excuse of the holiday to binge drink. The CDC defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol level to 0.08 percent or above, typically when consuming 5 drinks for men and 4 drinks for women in 2 hours. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse reports that 2 out of 5 college students reported binge drinking at least once in the past two weeks. The negative effects of binge drinking can be avoided by drinking smart. 

Drinking smart can mean different things to different people. According to Health Initiatives Health Educators, Elaine Miller and Sarah Morales, “Students might not choose to drink at all and that can be a smart decision for them. Students who do make the decision to drink should follow healthy strategies in order to reduce the risk of having a bad night. Not all strategies work the same for everyone, and it is important to take steps that work well for you as an individual.” If you do choose to drink, try following these tips from the Health Educators to see what works for you: “designate a sober driver or have money for an Uber, eat before and/or during drinking, alternate alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic beverages, set a limit before you go out and stick with it, and pace your drinks to one per hour.”  

While a night of controlled drinking can be enjoyable, “A night of heavy drinking can have short- and long-term effects on both your physical and emotional well-being. Headaches, dehydration, and other hangover symptoms can be the first to occur.” Not only does heavy drinking affect your body, but it can also “impact your relationships with others and with yourself.” 

The scariest effect of heavy binge drinking could be alcohol poisoning. It is important to know the signs of alcohol poisoning. If you think someone might have alcohol poisoning use the acronym PUBS to remember the signs.  P - puking while passed out. U - unresponsive to pinching or shaking. B - breathing is irregular, slow, shallow, or stopped and S - skin is blue, cold, or clammy. Remembering these signs can help save someone’s life.  

If you think someone is at risk for alcohol poisoning, do not be afraid to get the paramedics involved, even if you have been drinking. You will be covered by the Good Samaritan provision. The Good Samaritan policy applies to any student or student organization who seeks medical assistance for themselves or another individual whose health or safety is at risk. The policy was created to ensure that students do not delay seeking medical assistance for fear of disciplinary action by the Institute. No formal Institute disciplinary actions or sanctions will be imposed for violations of the rules regarding alcohol or drug use by the reporting students. However, students may be provided with resources on drug and alcohol counseling and/or education as appropriate. 

If you choose to drink on campus, there are rescores available should you need them. Health Initiatives offers wellness coaching, which allows students to work with a coach in setting goals and working towards reaching them. The Counseling Center offers students free and confidential individual and group counseling along with housing the Collegiate Recovery Program, which provides support and a safe environment to help students achieve growth and success in their recovery. Wreckless is a student organization that challenges the campus culture around partying and provides a safe alternative for socializing and showing school spirit. Stamps Health Services can offer a clinical perspective on how personal alcohol intake is affecting individual students. 

For more information on binge drinking and resources available visit healthinitiatives.gatech.edu/alcohol.  

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Kimberly Fulton

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