If you are in college, you are going to drink at some point, either because you want to or because someone will peer pressure you to. You might as well know how to do is safely.
Here’s the thing: probably nobody will ever tell you this information unless you (1) go looking for it or (2) had an incident. Some incidences are great learning experiences. Other incidences can cause trauma for years, jail time for years, somebody getting hurt, or even death.
So, here are some fast and boring tips.
Your liver metabolizes about 1 drink every hour. So, if you drink one drink every hour, you won’t really be drunk. If you drink more, you’ll get drunk.
How much is a drink?
1 drink = 1 beer
1 drink = 1 glass of wine
1 drink = 1 shot of hard liquor (vodka, tequila, rum, whiskey)
1 drink = 1/5 to 1/3 of a mixed drink
1 drink = 1/3 – ½ shot of absinthe*
*CAREFUL, absinthe gets you drunk fast! Depending on the proof and how much it is distilled (absinthe is meant to be distilled because it is bottled at a very high proof, 60-150, compared with whiskey which is 40. Proof is double the %alcohol, so 40 proof is 20% alcohol, and 150 proof is 75% alcohol).
From this, we see that there are 4-5 drinks in a mixed drink, and that absinthe is twice as “potent” as other liquors.
People who like absinthe tend to either not mess with it too much, or they are experienced drinkers know what they’re doing. When people get very drunk in college, it is usually not from absinthe. It is usually from a combination of wine, mixed drinks and shots.
Mixed drinks can be dangerous because a lot of times, you have no idea how many shots were poured into a mixed drink. They also taste really good: the whole point of training bartenders to mix different amounts of juices in a way that resembles potions class, is because at the end, it tastes AWESOME. You are going to drink it way too fast, and then get way too drunk.
People drink shots either (1) for the express purpose of getting drunk or (2) as a game to keep up with another person. People usually drink shots in combination with other drinks during the night.
Test your tolerance
This does not mean drink until you black out, but have some idea of how much liquor you can hold, and how much it will affect your judgment. From my observations, most women can barely function when they approach 6 drinks. Most men do not function well at 10 drinks. It is not exact: some can handle much less, others much more, but these are “danger” numbers that are easy to remember.
A lot of women, especially very small women or women with low tolerance, would need to be hospitalized with as little as 6 or 7 drinks taken in a short time.
If a woman has had 8 or more drinks, and a man has had 14 or more drinks, they should be watched very closely. Drunk people have the habit of wanting to drink more. They are drunk enough at this point to drink much more and really hurt themselves.
If you’re a 120lb woman, it takes you 2 drinks to exceed the legal BAC of .08. If you’re a 160lb man, it takes you 4 drinks to exceed the legal BAC.
This means that when you see someone who is “wasted” they are probably 2-4 times the legal limit. Somebody who is good at keeping self-control might not seem wasted, and just seem “drunk,” but still be at 2-4 times the legal limit. These people might seem fine to you and to themselves, but should certainly not be trusted with decisions.
Binge drink in competent company
If you are going to binge drink, take personal responsibility, but also be around people who you trust and who know what they’re doing. A lot of people have no idea how to tell if somebody else is drunk. It is really hard to tell how drunk somebody is, especially an acquaintance or a stranger. A lot of people even underestimate how much their best friends or partner have drunk. So, they would not know that they are supposed to be looking after you and won’t stop you from making a decision.
A lot of people have no idea how to take care of a drunk person. A lot of people do not think that they should take care of a drunk person. If you are around strangers or loose-friends, you have no idea what their philosophy is regarding personal responsibility: Do they believe that it is their responsibility duty to make sure that you are okay? Or do they believe that you should be able to do what you want, even if you are out of your mind?
And just because they are older or seem to have experience doesn’t mean that they know what they’re doing.
Counting your drinks
You probably won’t do it. You’ll probably gauge how much you’re drinking either “by eye” or by “how you feel.” That works a lot of the time, but depending on the situation you should be more careful. It’s really easy to be off by 2-5 drinks, and those 2-5 drinks might make a huge difference depending on both your physical size and the context of the situation. If your hard limit is usually 6, it makes a difference if you think you’ve drunk 4, but you’ve actually drunk 7. And if you’re using some other drug as well, or if you’re on an empty stomach, the effects of each single drink are compounded.
Counting your drinks is hard sometimes: you might take swigs straight out of the bottle, you might be drinking mixed drinks that somebody else made, you might be too drunk to keep track or to even care because you really do want to get wasted that night (or you will want to get wasted by drink #4—the more you drink the more you want to drink).
Know your facts.
Your body metabolizes about 1 drink every hour.
The vast majority of the alcohol is absorbed through your small intestine. Your small intestine has a way greater surface area to volume ratio (thanks to all the little hairs—the villi) than your stomach. That is why it is super important whether you eat before you drink: if you eat before you drink, it drastically slows down the rate at which you absorb the alcohol, and thus how drunk you get, how fast.
When you drink, you get super dehydrated, you need to drink water as you go and before you go to sleep, or else you’ll get a hangover and generally feel bad. Drinking water drastically reduces the chance that you’ll get a hangover.
Caffeine makes you get drunk faster. A Cuba Libre or a Jager Bomb will get you drunk fast.
If you are taking other drugs (marijuana, speed), drink less than what you think your “baseline” tolerance is, because the combination of drugs may affect you in strange ways.
Alcohol is sort of okay, but it is a drug that is more dangerous and with more side-effects than some illegal drugs. You wouldn’t want to do too much of an illegal drug, so you wouldn’t want to do too much of alcohol (which is more dangerous) either.
STAVE OFF PEER PRESSURE
Sometimes it will be a friend. Sometimes it will be someone you’re trying to impress. Sometimes it will be a work buddy who you are getting drinks with who should probably know better. Some phrases they might use:
“C’mon, it’s fuuuuuuun.”
“You gotta keep up with the guys.”
“You’re not pulling your share.”
“Why are you so sobeeerrrrrr.”
“Shots shots shots shots!”
“I see your glass is full there.”
Most people don’t push if you say “I’ve had enough” or “I don’t drink” or “No thank you.” They understand you’re taking care of yourself and won’t push it. For people who are either too drunk to be tactful or just generally don’t have tact, you could say “I drank before I got here.”
That’s about all there is to it. Other than knowing your rights and sticking by your guns, which is much harder than it seems. When somebody says “C’mon, drink up, keep up with us,” it’s very easy to quickly chug the pint of beer or glass of absinthe LIKE A BOSS and prove them all wrong. But it won’t be a good idea.
How do you get Accidentally wasted?
You’re a 120lb female college sophomore. You take a few shots of vodka before going to a party, to take the edge off. At the party, some frat guy gives you a mixed drink. You go around and talk to people, and soon enough the drink you were holding is gone: you drank it all. You throw away your cup and get another drink, you don’t want to be holding an empty cup. You ask for some orange juice with no vodka in it, but the guy mishears you because it’s super loud and pours vodka in it. You drink it because you don’t want to waste the drink. At this point you stop keeping track of how much you are drinking, because you are drunk. You’re anywhere between 6-10 drinks in. I hope you have a friend with you. You are between 2-5 times the legal limit, and your BAC is .19-.31. Your decision making ability is quite impaired. You’re either saying things that are ridiculous and hilarious (to you) and falling over and having fun, or you’re vomiting and crying, or (if you drank this really fast) you’re in the hospital.
You’re a 90lb female college senior. You don’t really binge drink, but you decided to drink tonight to celebrate. You invite a friend over and you guys start drinking a lot. You go through 2/3 a bottle of wine (containing 5-6 drinks) between the two of you, in about an hour of chatting and having fun. You then go through some beers. Now you go for the gin bottle, and drink some gulps of it from the bottle. You didn’t drink to an unsafe level before you drank the gin: you were just slightly tipsy. But being tipsy made you think that drinking more was a good idea. You gulped down about 2 shots from the gin bottle because you took giant, confident swigs, and now you’re at around #5 or #6. You are tiny and weigh 90 pounds, so this is quite a lot for you and you go vomit.
You’re a 190 lb male senior. You’re pretty experienced with drinking at this point. You feel like partying and having a good time. You pregame a pregame at your place by sipping a glass of whiskey. You have your own bar set up because you know what you’re doing. You go to the pregame and behold: there is an open bar! You order a Long-Island Iced Tea and a Gin and Tonic. And a Tequila Sunrise after that. They taste really good: everything is in just the right proportions, the bartender is an expert. You finally get to the party, where you are handed a free-drink ticket. You order a Long-Island Iced Tea because those tend to have a lot of alcohol, and you want to be SUPER TRASHED tonight. You drink it, but after 20 minutes of dancing you want more. You are in a “money solves problems” mood, and so you go right past the giant crowd around the bar and wave money at the bartender to get you 2 more Long-Islands. You’re pretty drunk at this point, but nobody notices too much because you always tend to have a stoic personality and because you always say somewhat controversial things. You go home uneventfully after 13-17 drinks, and make sure to drink 2 pints of water before bed to prevent a hangover. If you had one more mixed drink, you would have definitely vomited.
How do you take care of your sick friend? I will make a post about this, but giving how important this is, you should look it up. It depends on the situation but some no-brainers are:
- If they are vomiting, don’t leave them alone.
- If they are vomiting, don’t let them sleep until they are done vomiting and don’t feel nauseous. They may vomit in their sleep and literally die.
- Try to feed them water.
- Use your judgment: don’t leave them alone if they are in a sorry state. Don’t tell yourself “oh they brought them on themselves, they’ll be fine.” People feel safe drinking too much because they are in the company of friends: it is your responsibility to either completely change the culture around this, or be that friend that takes care of them.
- People are idiots and do stupid things that they don’t want to do all the time. Don’t let them do those things.
- Ask someone about their drinking and drug history for the night if you weren’t watching.
- Don’t let them go home with anyone unless that person is a better friend to them than you.
Outside facts and sources:
“1) Eat First. The surface area of the stomach is only a couple of square feet, but because of the presence of villi the surface area of the small intestine is roughly 2,600 square feet. What this means in practical terms is that the small intestine is very efficient at absorbing alcohol whereas the stomach is very inefficient. Between the stomach and the small intestine there is a valve called the pyloric valve. When you eat a good sized meal this valve closes to keep the food in the stomach for digestion. If the meal has a high fat content the valve can remain closed for up to six hours. Proteins pass through more quickly and carbohydrates pass through the quickest of all. So if you eat a big meal of fried chicken or pizza before you drink, the alcohol will be absorbed slowly, your BAC (blood alcohol content) will remain low, and you will not become intoxicated quickly. Drinking on an empty stomach will make BAC rise very quickly and you may well pass out or suffer a blackout. And what is the fun of a party which you cannot even remember? Note: eating after you have drunk has little or no effect.”
Source for BAC: http://www.brad21.org/bac_charts.html