Alcohol and Spring Break: Be Smart, Be Safe…

Spring Break, that much anticipated ‘vacation time’ typically during early March, is something that many students, staff and faculty look forward to each year. For many, it is an unofficial transition from the end of winter to the beginning of spring that just happens to be scheduled at a great time of the semester. While many students stay at home and work, rest, sleep, or look at it as a time to catch their breath, others take the opportunity to head to a vacation destination with thousands of other college students from around the country.

It can be a good time and fun in the sun.  However, it is not without its risks. Findings from a research study done by the National Institute of Health suggest that “drinking associated with specific occasions (such as St Patrick’s Day and Spring Break for example) presents elevated risks for college students.”  (NIH, 2010)

These risks tend to be escalated even more for “typically lighter drinkers.” This specific student population, typical light drinkers, is at greater likelihood to experience negative consequences (e.g. sexual coercion, vandalism) on occasions of increased alcohol consumption. Thus, both typically lighter drinkers, and their typically heavier drinking peers both have significant risks due to increased alcohol consumption on special occasions—including Spring Break.  One night can change a life.

So with this in mind, here are some tips to lower your risks during Spring Break:

  • Know the age limitations for legal alcohol consumption at your destination
  • Do not drink excessively or more than one drink per hour (your body will metabolize one drink in that time frame)
  • If you are going to drink, eat a meal before drinking periods and snack while you are drinking
  • Alternate alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages; drink water throughout
  • Be attentive to your rate of consumption (how fast are you consuming drinks)
  • Recognize that “hard liquor” tends to lead to higher levels of intoxication, not because of the amount of alcohol per serving, but because of the rate of consumption
  • Watch your drink and watch it being made.  Not everyone has your best interests in mind. Remember that while we need to be alert and aware of someone slipping a drug into our drink, alcohol is the biggest date rape drug. Passed out, is passed out, whether that is from GHB, Rohypnol or alcohol
  • Use the buddy system. Watch out for friends and have friends watch out for you. This is one of the best strategies if you, or someone with you, drinks too much.
  • DO NOT HURT SOMEONE ELSE OR SOMEONE ELSE’S PROPERTY.   Alcohol is not an excuse for bad behavior.
  • Make sure there is a designated driver or a cab.  If your designated driver has a drink, then they should no longer be your designated driver for that night.

Spring Break can be a fun and memorable time.  We want you to enjoy the time away from the classroom, but we don’t want you to make decisions that negatively impact your safety or success.

Have fun, be safe and return to campus ready to finish the semester strong!