- Minimizing & Avoiding Health Risks
- Quick Tips
- Alcohol Poisoning & The Good Samaritan Provision
- What to do for someone who has had too much to drink...
- How do you handle an intoxicated person? Do’s and Don’ts
- Life Threatening Situations
Alcohol use is very common in our society. Drinking alcohol has immediate effects that can increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. Excessive alcohol use, either in the form of heavy drinking (drinking more than two drinks per day on average for men or more than one drink per day on average for women), or binge drinking (drinking 5 or more drinks during a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks during a single occasion for women), can lead to increased risk of health problems such as liver disease or unintentional injuries.
According to recent national surveys, more than half of the adult U.S. population drank alcohol in the past 30 days. Approximately 5% of the total population drank heavily, while 15% of the population binge drank. From 2001–2005, there were approximately 79,000 deaths annually attributable to excessive alcohol use. In fact, excessive alcohol use is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death for people in the United States each year.
Many people do not understand why individuals become addicted to drugs or how drugs change the brain to foster compulsive drug abuse. They mistakenly view drug abuse and addiction as strictly a social problem and may characterize those who take drugs as morally weak. One very common belief is that drug abusers should be able to just stop taking drugs if they are only willing to change their behavior. What people often underestimate is the complexity of drug addiction—that it is a disease that impacts the brain and because of that, stopping drug abuse is not simply a matter of willpower. Through scientific advances we now know much more about how exactly drugs work in the brain, and we also know that drug addiction can be successfully treated to help people stop abusing drugs and resume their productive lives.
- To learn more about the health effects of alcohol, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/.
- To learn more about the health effects of specific drugs, please visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) - http://www.nida.nih.gov/Infofacts/index.html.
- A one page, easy-to-read PDF version of Alcohol & Other Drug Health Risks.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/Publications/AlcoholResearch/
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - http://www.nida.nih.gov/index.html
- Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - http://www.samhsa.gov/
- National Clearinghouse on Alcohol and Drug Information - http://ncadi.samhsa.gov/
- World Health Organization - http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/en/
“A Family History of Alcoholism: Are You at Risk?”
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) publication
If you are among the millions of people in this country who have a parent, grandparent, or other close relative with alcoholism, you may have wondered what your family's history of alcoholism means for you.
- Are problems with alcohol a part of your future?
- Is your risk for becoming an alcoholic greater than for people who do not have a family history of alcoholism?
- If so, what can you do to lower your risk?
This publication provides great insights.http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/FamilyHistory/famhist.htm
The following research-based drinking guidelines will help you lower your risk for health and safety problems related to drinking:
Abstinence is always a safe choice!
Some simply have no desire to experience the effects of alcohol and some abstain because of their religious beliefs. Others abstain for discreet periods of time. These are some of the people/situations where ‘zero’ is the best or the only legal option:
- people who must drive
- individuals under age 21
- people cutting down on empty calories
- women who are pregnant and those who suspect they are pregnant
- people with a strong family history of addiction
- people taking certain medications (e.g., sleeping pills or pain medication)
One = One drink per hour
“One drink” means either one 12-ounce beer, one 4-ounce glass of wine or a mixed drink that contains one ounce of liquor. By keeping the pace to one drink per hour, your alcohol intake will not exceed your body’s ability to metabolize the alcohol.
Three = No more than 3 drinks on a given day
Research shows that when drinking exceeds this level, negative health effects are more likely. Drinking more than this causes cognitive impairment that is linked to a host of problems. These problems include arguments, hangovers, regretted and unprotected sex.
When drinking, it’s best to eat foods high in protein (e.g., meat, eggs or dairy products) since they slow the absorption of alcohol. Remember, women often become impaired from drinking more quickly than men and their impairment lasts longer. Because women experience heightened drinking impairment shortly prior to menstruation, abstaining or drinking fewer than 3 drinks is advisable during that time.
Mystery Drinks and Tall Boys
Be wary of exotic and common container drinks (e.g. a Kama Kazi, a Sex-on-the-Beach, or trash can punch) which contain either large or unknown amounts of alcohol. When consuming them, it will be difficult to control your degree of impairment. It is also common to find drinks served in non-standard sized containers, for instance, a Tall boy or a pitcher of Margaritas. Sticking to standard sized drinks will also help you monitor your consumption.
Don’t drink if…
- You really don’t want to
- You’re upset, anxious or angry
- You’re doing other drugs
- There is a chance of unintended or unwanted sexual activity
- You’re pregnant or think you might be
- You’ll be driving
- You’re taking certain medicines, occasionally, or routinely. Ask your health care provider for guidance about drinking
- Avoid drinking games
- Slow down!
- Eat first
- Alternate with non-alcoholic beverages
- Check-out alternate activities (movies, shopping, bowling, coffee-shops, WRC)!
You should call 911 if…
- You can’t awaken your friend
- Your friends breathing is slow, shallow, or irregular
- His/her skin is pale, bluish, cold or clammy
- His/her pulse is above 100 or below 60
While you wait…
- Don’t give food or drink
- Don’t induce vomiting
- Don’t leave your friend alone
- Have your friend lie of his/her side to prevent choking
- Call University Police (319-273-4000) if your friend becomes unmanageable
Don’t worry about getting into trouble, do the right thing! Are you aware of the UNI Good Samaritan Provision within the Student Conduct Code?
Students who seek medical assistance for themselves or another person due to intoxication of alcohol and/or drugs will not be subject to university disciplinary action, except when it has been determined that another violation of university policy has occurred (for example destruction of university property; fire safety violation; physical harm to another person, etc.).
This includes an alleged victim of sexual misconduct or another student who shares information as either a witness to or as a reporter of sexual misconduct as long as the report is made in good faith. In order for this policy to apply, the student must agree to complete any and all recommended educational programming or other treatment recommended by the Dean of Students or a Student Conduct Administrator.
Examples where this policy would apply include:
- A student is reluctant to call an ambulance when a friend becomes unconscious following excessive consumption of alcohol because the reporting student is under the age of 21 and was also consuming alcohol.
- A student is reluctant to report that he/she has been sexually assaulted because he/she had been consuming alcohol and is under the age of 21.
Any exemption from disciplinary action granted under this policy may only apply to disciplinary action and/or sanctions under the Student Conduct Code and does not apply to any criminal action taken by law enforcement, such as issuing a citation or making an arrest.
While this policy applies to individual students, if an organization has been found in violation of the Student Conduct Code, then the organization’s willingness to seek medical assistance for a guest may be viewed as a mitigating factor if or when sanctions are issued.
The complete Student Conduct Code is available at http://www.uni.edu/policies/302
At one time or another, almost everyone drinks more than he or she should have. Sometimes emotional factors contribute to excessive consumption. At other times, people miscalculate the strength of what they are drinking or forget they haven’t eaten beforehand. When this happens, the immediate issue is not why someone has become intoxicated, but what to do about it. The behavior of someone who has become intoxicated is unpredictable at best. There are, however, some practical approaches one can take.
- Alcohol affects the brain, and a person who is heavily under its influence is not able to be rational. Therefore, to argue or attempt to reason with a person in an intoxicated condition is likely to yield only frustration for both parties.
- An intoxicated person can, however, sense how those around feel toward her or him. Through tone of voice, expression, and movements, one can both demonstrate concern for the welfare of the intoxicated person and try to help the person remain calm.
- Only time allows the body to metabolize alcohol. Drinking coffee or taking a cold shower does not reduce intoxication, and maybe dangerous (e.g. risk for choking; risk of falling).
- If a person becomes aggressive or belligerent, it is important to keep calm. Appearing nervous will probably transfer anxiety and accelerate the situation. Be direct, but not authoritarian. Present positive alternatives to the individual. Show respect, but define your limits and stick to them. Try to get the person seated and/or distracted if they’ve become angry. If you need help, call UNI Public Safety at 273-4000.
- If an intoxicated person falls asleep or passes out, monitor his or her breathing. Do not allow the person to remain lying on his or her back. Place the individual on his/her side. An intoxicated person can suffocate by vomiting while sleeping. Make sure they can be roused and can respond to questions. If they cannot respond or become uncontrollable, call for help immediately.
- At all costs, an intoxicated person should be kept from driving. Have a plan for taking care of someone who has drunk too much and don’t be afraid to implement it. Offer to call a cab or allow your guest to spend the night. If he or she insists on driving, car keys should be calmly and firmly taken away. Another approach is to disconnect the car’s distributor so it won’t start. Since even a small amount of alcohol can alter the ability to drive safely, if there is any doubt at all, use the precautions listed above.
- DO demonstrate concern for person’s welfare. Talk in a calm, non-judgmental voice in order to reassure him/her.
- DO find out what the person was drinking, how much, over what time period, and if the alcohol was consumed with any other drugs or medicines.
- DO explain what you intend to do, speaking in a clear, firm, reassuring manner.
- DO arrange for someone to stay with a person who is vomiting.
- DO encourage the intoxicated person to lie down and sleep, making sure to lie on his/her side. This prevents accidental death by choking should he/she begin to vomit. Be sure to check the person every 30 minutes for the first two hours and then every hour to make sure they are responsive and are breathing. If they do not respond call 911 for assistance. Remember, a person’s BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) level may continue to rise depending on how much they’ve had to drink and how recently s/he consumed the alcohol.
- DO call for help if the person becomes uncontrollable or you sense an impending medical emergency, UNI Public Safety 273-4000.
- DON’T attempt to constrain the person.
- DON’T give the person any medication, even aspirin. Aspirin may irritate the stomach lining.
- DON’T give the person food, coffee, tea, or other liquids. S/he is at risk for choking.
- DON’T induce vomiting.
- DON’T give the person a cold shower
- DON’T assume that every intoxicated person who passes out will sleep it off. Check his/her breathing at regular intervals. Don’t leave them alone.
- DON’T let a person operate a car, motorcycle or bicycle.
- DON’T leave him/her alone.
- Respiratory difficulties (weak breathing, cessation of breathing, or a person with bluish or pale colored skin)
- Increased, decreased, or irregular pulse. Severe circulatory problems are indicated by an irregular pulse or a pulse above 100 or below 60 beats per minute
- Vomiting while semiconscious or unconscious
If a person appears to be unconscious, try to awaken the individual by gently shaking him/her and calling their name, if you know it. If the person does not respond, call 911.
Check to see if the person is breathing. If not ask someone to 911. You should take these steps while waiting for the ambulance:
- Check to see if their airway is open.
- If the airway is blocked, establish an airway. If breathing does not resume immediately, give artificial ventilation.
- When paramedics arrive, share what care has been provided, the person’s condition, and the amount of alcohol consumed.