Alcohol and College

Alcohol And Safety

Before drinking, think about it's possible consequences (e.g. academic and health problems, unsafe sexual assault injury and even death). These consequences affect the person who drinks as well as other students (whether they choose to drink or not) and the community as a whole.

What's in a Drink?

12 oz. of beer = 5 oz. of wine = 1.5 oz of 80 proof distilled liquor

What Does Alcohol do?

Low Doses:

  • Reduces tension
  • Lowers inhibitions
  • Impairs concentration
  • Slows reflexes
  • Impairs reaction time
  • Reduces coordination

Medium Doses:

  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Altered emotions

High Doses:

  • Vomiting
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma
  • Death

What Does BAC Mean?

Blood Alcohol Concentration is the percentage of alcohol in your blood. For example, a .08 alcohol level means that .08 percent of your bloodstream is alcohol – the higher the alcohol content, the more the alcohol affects your system and the more dangerous it becomes.

Effects of BAC on the body:

  • 0.02-0.03 BAC: No loss of coordination, slight euphoria and loss of shyness. Depressant effects are not present.
  • 0.04-0.06 BAC: Feeling of well-being, relaxation, lower inhibitions, sense of warmth. Euphoria. Some minor impairments of reasoning and memory, lowering of caution.
  • 0.07-0.09 BAC: Slight impairment of balance, speech, vision, reaction time and hearing. Euphoria. Judgment and self-control are reduced, and caution, reason and memory are impaired.
  • 0.10-0.125 BAC: Significant impairment of motor coordination and loss of good judgment. Speech may be slurred; balance, vision, reaction time and hearing will be impaired. Euphoria. It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle at this level of intoxication.
  • 0.13-0.15 BAC: Gross motor impairment and lack of physical control. Blurred vision and major loss of balance. Euphoria is reduced and dysphoria is beginning to appear.
  • 0.16-0.20 BAC: Dysphoria (anxiety, restlessness) predominates, nausea may appear. The drinker has the appearance of "sloppy drunk."
  • 0.25 BAC: Needs assistance walking; total mental confusion. Dysphoria with nausea and some vomiting.
  • 0.30 BAC: Loss of consciousness.
  • 0.40 BAC And Up: Onset of coma, possible death due to respiratory arrest.

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Unconsciousness or semi-consciousness
  • Slow respiration (breaths) of eight seconds or less per minute or lapses between breaths of more than eight seconds
  • Cold, clammy, pale or bluish skin
  • Strong odor of alcohol

Appropriate Action:

  • Immediately call 911.
  • Gently turn person on their side and maintain that position by placing a pillow in the small of the persons back. This is important to prevent aspiration (choking) should the person vomit.
  • Stay with the person until medical help arrives.

If a person appears to be "sleeping it off" it is important to realize that even though a person may be semi-conscious, alcohol already in the stomach may continue to enter the bloodstream and circulate through the body. The person's life may still be in danger.

If you are having difficulty in determining whether an individual is acutely intoxicated, contact a health professional immediately – you cannot afford to guess.

Reprinted from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.

Information and Support

If you or someone you know has an alcohol abuse problem there is help available through the following resources:

Western Colorado University Health Center:  970.943.2707

Western Colorado University Counseling Center:  970.943.484

Western Responsible Alcohol Partnership (WRAP):  970.943.2500

Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT):