Alcohol abuse poses a variety of potential problems, especially for college students. Taking the initiative to seek out information to become more knowledgeable and responsible with alcohol reveals a great deal of character and maturity.
What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is the term used when your body has become dependent on alcohol. This dependency can result in:
- Constant cravings for more alcohol
- An inability to stop drinking when you intend to
- Physical dependence on alcohol
- Built-up tolerance—your body will need more and more alcohol to achieve the same effect
Facts about Alcohol
Factors that influence how alcohol will affect someone includes what and how much someone eats before drinking, and whether or not prescription, allergy, or over-the-counter medications are being taken.
The effects of alcohol are measured by blood alcohol content (BAC)—the percent of alcohol per 100 milligrams of blood. For example, .20 BAC is 2 parts alcohol for every 1,000 parts blood. Here are some examples of the effects of various BAC levels:
- .02: Mellow feeling. Slight body warmth. Less inhibited. It is illegal for those under 21 to drive at this level of BAC, and doing so can lead to a revoked license.
- .06: Judgment is somewhat impaired. People are less able to make rational decisions about their capacities.
- .08: Definite impairment to driving and illegal to do so in Massachusetts.
- .10: Reaction time and muscle control are impaired. Noisy. Mood swings. Possibly embarrassing behavior.
- .20: Likely alcohol blackout, resulting in person being unable to recall what happened while they were intoxicated.
Recognizing Alcohol Poisoning
No college student even wants to think about alcohol poisoning, let alone experience it. It can, however, become a reality when people consume too much alcohol. Specific signs of alcohol poisoning include:
- Mental confusion, stupor, coma, unresponsiveness
- Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths a minute)
- Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
- Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, or paleness
Know the danger signals of alcohol poisoning, but do not wait for all symptoms to be present. Be aware that a person who has passed out may die. Do not hesitate to call 911 or campus police at 508-831- 5555.
When to be Concerned
Some students drink to relax, because they don’t know how to say no, or because everyone else is doing it. Regardless of your reason, you should know the signals that drinking is becoming a problem. Ask yourself if you are:
- Drinking alone because you’re feeling sad or depressed
- Worrying your family members or friends
- Drinking even after telling yourself you’re not going to
- Getting headaches or hangovers the morning after drinking
- Having difficulties getting to class the morning after drinking
- Drinking more than you want when you do drink
You should consider meeting with a counselor if any of these are true, or if you:
- Drink every day
- Binge drink to get drunk
- Believe alcohol is affecting your grades or relationships with others
- Think a friend has a problem with his or her drinking
Blood Alcohol Level Calculator
Are two drinks too many? How about four? Calculate your baseline blood alcohol level (BAC) online.
Services at WPI
Staff members at the Student Development and Counseling Center (SDCC) are always willing to speak with you in a professional, non- judgmental—and of course, confidential—way at no cost to you. Services at WPI include:
- Alcohol Edu, a personal prevention program for first year students that helps students practice safer decision-making about alcohol
- Individual counseling, an honest conversation about alcohol use with a counselor at the SDCC followed by goal-setting to develop healthy lifestyle skills
- BASICS, a two-part self-assessment, encouraging students to reflect honestly on their use of alcohol and explore the possibility of change
- Consultation for concerned friends and staff, a confidential discussion about others’ use of alcohol and what you can do to support someone
Read more about alcohol and drug education at WPI. Call 508-831-5540 or stop by the SDCC to make an appointment. Together with a counselor, you can assess how much alcohol is too much and collaborate on specific steps that can help you reduce or stop your drinking. You have a support system in place for making desired changes.
- Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- American Psychiatric Association
- B.R.A.D 21
- National Coalition of Alcoholism
- Online Screening for Alcohol
- U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
We have included links to other websites and we encourage students to evaluate the materials and use what they find to be helpful. Please keep in mind that WPI cannot assume responsibility for information on other websites.
Information on the web is not intended as a substitute for assistance from the SDCC. For personal assistance, WPI students should contact the SDCC at 508-831-5540 to schedule an appointment with one of our professional staff members.