Alcohol & Drugs 101
Think Everyone Drinks?
Often, students come to college thinking that, to be a part of the campus culture, they have to consume alcohol. Alcohol use in college is made popular in songs, movies, and TV shows. As you'll see below, not all MSU students drink alcohol. And, when they do, many choose to drink responsibly. The information provided on this page is intended to give you some basic knowledge about alcohol: how your body processes it and how to safely consume, if you do choose to drink. The first step in responsible drinking is to follow the law: DON'T DRINK IF YOU ARE UNDER 21.
Did you know.....
- Approximately 30% of MSU students do not drink alcohol
- Around 40% did not consume alcohol within the last 30 days
- Over 60% of MSU students did not binge drink in the last 30 days
*Statistics come from the Fall 2011 Core Survey at MSU
Alcohol: What You Need to Know
- Your body can eliminate about ONE alcoholic drink per hour. How much is one drink?
- ONE, 12-ounce bottle of beer.
- ONE, 5-ounce glass of wine
- ONE, 1-ounce shot of spirits
- Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is defined as the measure of the amount of alcohol in a person's blood.
- Six factors influence how quickly a person will become intoxicated (and his/her BAC level):
- Size- In general, smaller people become intoxicated more quickly than larger people. However, people with more body fat typically become intoxicated more quickly than those with more muscle.
- Gender- Women have more body fat than men, and they become intoxicated more quickly.
- Rate of Consumption- People who gulp or chug drinks become intoxicated more quickly than those who sip or drink slowly.
- Strength of Drink- When drinking mixed drinks, use caution. You may be consuming more than one alcoholic beverage in a single glass. Also, carbonated beverages speed the absorption of alcohol into your system, and energy drinks mask the effects of alcohol. This can be dangerous, and it is advised that one never mix alcohol with energy drinks.
- Drug Use- Mixing alcohol with any type of drug, even over-the-counter pain relievers, is dangerous.
- Food Intake- Eating food before and while you drink alcohol will help your body absorb it and keep you from becoming intoxicated as quickly.
- Alcohol Poisoning is a drug overdose that occurs when a person's body absorbs too much alcohol, causing the areas in control of the brain that control consciousness, respiration, and heart rate to shut down, which may lead to coma and death (www.gordie.org).
- The following are warning signs of alcohol poisoning:
- Pale Skin
- Passing Out
- Irregular Breathing
If you think someone you know may have alcohol poisoning, never leave the person alone. Stay with them, and call 911.
Binge drinking is defined as 4 or more drinks in a sitting for a woman and 5 or more for a man and is an issue for many college students. Binge drinking increases the risk for alcohol poisoning, as well as alcohol-related accidents and deaths. When consuming alcohol, the speed of drinking and number of drinks are two of the six factors that influence a person's BAC. Often, people lose track of the number of drinks they have consumed due to "pre-gaming" and drinking games, which are described below:
Pre-gaming occurs when a student drinks heavily before leaving to go to a bar, party, tailgate, or any other place. The following is a list of several reasons why students pre-game:
- To get their "buzz" going
- Cheaper prices (less expensive than buying drinks at a bar)
- Ease of availability (if underage)
- Legality (if underage)
As noted in the above list, one reason people pre-game is to get their "buzz" going before the "real" drinking begins. In doing this, people have a tendency to lose track of the number of drinks they have consumed throughout the course of their drinking session. Losing track of the number of drinks increases the risk of alcohol poisoning and various alcohol related accidents. When drinking, remember that drinks consumed during pre-gaming count, and always monitor drink intake.Drinking Games
There are countless drinking games that college students participate in, and all of them revolve around students becoming intoxicated. Games such as beer pong, waterfall, and flip cup require participants to drink excessive amounts of alcohol in short periods of time. In doing so, it is easy for someone to quickly lose track of the number of drinks they have consumed, which increases the chances of negative consequences and excessive intoxication. To avoid dangerous levels of intoxication, avoid drinking games and keep track of the overall number of drinks consumed in one session.
Mixing Alcohol & Energy Drinks
Mixing alcohol and energy drinks is popular among college students, and the danger of this combination is unknown by most students. Many people believe that an energy drink (which functions as an upper) helps to negate the effects of alcohol (the depressant) and balance out the negative effects associated with it. This common misconception is not the case, and the stimulant actually heightens both the buzz and crash that occurs when using alcohol. When alcohol is consumed, the user initially feels a "buzz" sensation, which is then followed by the "crash" occurs when the user's BAC level continues to rise. The "crash" is a result of the depressant taking effect, as seen in the diagram to the right. As mentioned previously, instead of balancing out the curve on the diagram, the combination of energy drinks (or any stimulant) with alcohol heightens both the rise and fall of the curve, which can result in alcohol poisoning, dangerous accidents, and death.
Want to know more about your drinking habits? Try GAIN!
The Goal-Driven Alcohol/Drug Intervention Network (G.A.I.N.) uses a harm reduction approach to alcohol abuse. The goal of G.A.I.N. is to reduce levels for alcohol consumption and negative consequences associated with moderate to high-risk drinking.
It is a research program designed for any student who wants to learn more about his/her drinking habits and avoid possible negative consequences. Any student who consumes alcohol can benefit from G.A.I.N.
Students can learn:
- How to calculate personal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)
- Harm reduction tips
- How many calories are consumed when drinking (based on personal drink preferences)
- Approximately how much money they spend on alcohol per year
- How to identify high-risk drinking patterns
- Practical information about alcohol consumption
- How to make responsible choices in social situations
Participating in GAIN requires 2 appointments, with each lasting about 30 minutes. Interested students should first email one of our staff members to schedule an appointment. The student and staff member will set up a time to meet for Part I, where the student will complete a computer survey regarding his/her alcohol habits. Following completion of Part I, the staff member and student will set up a Part II date (generally a week later) for the student to return and discuss his/her results.
If you are interested in the GAIN program or have any questions, please email one of the staff members listed below.
Ashley Fondren at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-325-0075
If you would like to schedule a GAIN appointment, email GAIN@saffairs.msstate.edu.
Mixing Alcohol & Drugs
Predicting how someone is going to react to a mixture of alcohol and drugs is extremely difficult simply because many factors play a role. Variables such as body chemistry, current physical condition, and the particular drug being mixed with alcohol all factor into the body's reaction. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of the risk involved in mixing various drugs, whether prescription, over-the-counter, or illicit, with alcohol, and thus increase their chances of serious injury or death. The following list contains descriptions of what can occur when alcohol is mixed with various drugs.
Alcohol & Related Laws
Is it a serious violation to use or make a fake ID?
Yes. Minors convicted of using false identification, which includes using another individual's driver's license or ID, altering their own identification, or reproducing a fake ID card can be fined up to $500.00 and serve up to 30 days of community service. Further, a person over 21 years of age who is in the business of supplying fake driver's licenses to minors can be convicted of a felony and face up to $5,000 in fines and 3 years in jail. If you give your license to a minor to purchase alcoholic beverages could have serious consequences, especially if the minor is involved in an accident. The loaner of the card could face civil and criminal charges.
If you are under the age of 21 and are caught with beer or alcoholic beverages, does it go on your record?
Yes, if you are convicted, the violation remains on your record. A minor in possession can be fined up to $500.00, 30 days community service, and/or a 90 days suspension of his/her drivers license.
Do you know about the social host law?
Enacted by the Mississippi Legislature in 2011, the Social Host law stipulates misdemeanor charges may be filed against anyone who owns or leases a private residence or private premises and knowingly allows a party to take place or continue at the residence or premises where a minor attending the party obtains, possesses or consumes beer, light wine or alcoholic beverages.
The Social Host law exempts legally protected religious activities and family gatherings. (Read more: http://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=16384#ixzz1ssGqFSrr)
The "social host" law went into effect, making adults liable for knowingly allowing underage drinking (people younger than 21) on their property. A violation would be a misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail. The social host law is not limited to underage drinking in the home, but also gatherings such as pasture parties, bon fires and on private properties such as camps or lake houses. While the law is not expected to put an end to underage drinking, proponents say it will be a deterrent. Most importantly, it will hold adults and parents who host drinking parties for teens - or allow them to drink at home - accountable. (http://meridianstar.com/local/x652256574/New-social-host-law-to-hold-adults-accountable-for-underage-drinking)
For more information, please visit:
Below, you will find information on over-the-counter, prescription, illicit and synthetic drugs, as well as the negative consequences which can occur when mixing them with alcohol. The list is not comprehensive, but we hope it will provide enough information for you to make an informed decision about your health and safety. If you have any questions or need information about a substance not listed below, please contact Michelle LaFleur.
• This is the active ingredient in Tylenol, and it can cause liver damage if used with excess amounts of alcohol.Antihistamines
• When combined with alcohol, antihistamines (which can be found in prescription sinus medications) increase the effect of both, which increase the likelihood of an overdose.Aspirin
• When mixed with alcohol, the user may experience internal bleeding and torn stomach linings.Aderall
• Adderall functions as a stimulant, which increases the user's heart rate, blood pressure, and brain activity. Adderall also helps mask the physical effects of alcohol, thus allowing the user to consume more alcohol than normal without feeling the physical effects of intoxication. However, once the Adderall wears off, the user quickly feels the cumulative effects of the consumed alcohol, thus bringing about a quick and severe level of intoxication. This combination increases the user's risk of alcohol poisoning, alcohol-related accidents, and death.Xanax
• Mixing Xanax and alcohol can be a deadly combination because they both function as sedatives/depressants. Mixing of the two can slow respiration and lead to coma/death.
Cocaine/crack speed up heart rate and blood pressure, and adding alcohol exponentially increases these effects. The drug, which functions as a stimulant, causes the alcohol to absorb more quickly into a person's bloodstream, which increases the speed at which intoxication occurs. The combination of cocaine/crack with alcohol not only increases the risk for alcohol poisoning, but also the risk for heart attack and heart failure.Ecstasy
Both alcohol and ecstasy increase a user's risk for dehydration, and the risk is intensified when they are taken together. Ecstasy also hinders the body's ability to regulate its internal temperature, thus increasing the risk of death by hypertension.GHB (Date Rape Drug)
GHB is known as the date-rape drug because it causes the user to experience temporary black-out periods when mixed with alcohol. Because it functions as a depressant, GHB works in tandem with alcohol to lower the user's respiration and heart rate to a dangerous level.Heroin
Both heroin and alcohol also function as a depressant, and the overall effect increases exponentially when used together. The resulting effect can be a heroin overdose or ceased breathing.Marijuana
When consumed, marijuana suppresses a user's need to vomit, which increases the risk of alcohol poisoning because the body's signal to purge excess alcohol is not processed.
These are drugs made in a lab and are often chemical analogs of existing illicit drugs. Examples include:
Bath Salts (synthetic cocaine-like substance)
K2/Spice (synthetic marijuana)
These drugs are constantly changing, and new variations appear often. It's important to note that the ingredients and potency vary, and some of the above drugs can be up to 20 times more potent than their plant-based counterparts. For example, cocaine and marijuana are plant-based drugs, and the synthetic versions are much more potent. Because of this, accidental overdose is common. (Talbot, B. (June, 2012). Current trends in drug abuse training, Jackson, MS.)
Resources for More Information
Safer Drinking Guidelines
College Drinking - Changing the Culture
National Institute of Drug Abuse 'Monitoring the Future' Study - 2015
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health