College students, parties and alcohol – three things that commonly go together, but not always with the best intentions. This combination is not just problematic because it could involve underage drinking, but also because college students can lack the knowledge to consume alcohol safely.
“(Students) don’t know what their body can handle, they don’t know the effects of alcohol. They’re trying to fit in. They’re totally peer pressured,” said Community Services and Crime Prevention Corporal for Cal State Fullerton University Police, Thomas Perez. “They don’t know what to expect. They’re served alcohol and they don’t know what it is, where it came from, what it is going to do to them. They’re not used to drinking.”
Inexperience and lack of knowledge with alcohol is likely to blame for fatalities and injuries caused by underage drinking.
“Alcohol is a leading contributor to fatal injuries and a major cause of death for people younger than 21,” according to a 2016 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In order to combat future alcohol induced fatalities, educating and informing young college students can be the solution. And it all starts by knowing what your body can handle and the fact that everyone’s limit is different.
“Two people who drink the same amount of alcohol can have very different BACs (blood alcohol content). This is because everyone processes alcohol at a different rate,” according to the Better Health Channel.
Some factors that might affect BAC include gender, age, body size, liver function, stomach content and genetics.
Not only should young partiers get familiar with the BAC levels before taking a few drinks, they should also be aware of the side effects of alcohol, which can include disruption in one’s ability to effectively communicate, mood alterations and hinderance of coordination and overall physical movement.
“It impairs your judgement,” Perez said. “People who aren’t typically violent, become violent when they drink alcohol.”
To avoid all unnecessary violence and other side effects of binge drinking, Health Educator for TitanWell Laura Ross said there are five things students need to know.
“The most important is they need to know what a standard drink is,” Ross said.
One standard drink is about 14 grams of pure alcohol, which roughly translates 12 ounces of regular beer consisting of 5 percent alcohol; 5 ounces of wine consisting of 12 percent alcohol; and 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits consisting of 40 percent alcohol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
“The second thing is, (people should) be mindful of their BAC. It takes one hour for one standard drink to be processed by our liver,” Ross said. “The third is we talk about an app. We encourage students to use it, it’s called BACCards.com. It is a great way to keep track of their drinking.”
BACCards is an app created by Blu Sky Creative and advocated by TitanWell. The app allows users to keep track of what alcohol is being consumed, how much they are consuming, the last drink consumed and the estimated BAC level. In turn, it promotes self-awareness and limits the consumption of alcoholic drinks.
“The fourth one is looking at the signs of alcohol poisoning. If we are all aware of those signs of alcohol poisoning, hopefully we will be able to help a fellow Titan who needs help. We use an acronym called CUPS. Cold and clammy skin. Unconsciousness. Puking. Slowed or irregular breathing,” Ross said.
Knowing the signs of alcohol poisoning is crucial to preventing harm. And remember, even if an underage individual is intoxicated while seeking help, that help will be provided without the victim getting in trouble.
“No person who in good faith, and not for compensation, renders emergency medical or nonmedical care at the scene of an emergency shall be liable for any civil damages resulting from any act or omission,” according to the California Health and Safety Code Section 1799.102.
The Good Samaritan law was implemented in order to motivate others to take action when someone needs medical attention.
“It protects people under the age of 21 from getting in trouble with the law,” Ross said. “So if they are the first person who calls 911 and works with them, talks to them and is cooperative, they will not get in trouble, and the victim will not get in trouble.”