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THE ABCs of College Drinking... 25 tips for navigating the collegiate party scene


Table of Contents     PREVIEW


Tip 1 Academics

Tip 2  Alcohol

Tip 3  Alcohol Poisoning

Tip 4  Blackouts

Tip 5  Blood Alcohol Level

Tip 6  Drinking Games

Tip 7  Drinks

Tip 8  Driving Under the Influence

Tip 9  Drugs

Tip 10  Greeks    

Tip 11  HALT

Tip 12  Hangovers

Tip 13  Know the Code

Tip 14  Low Risk Drinking

Tip 15  Marijuana

Tip 16  Party Strategies

Tip 17  Pre-Partying

Tip 18  Problem Drinking

Tip 19  Refusal Skills

Tip 20  Sex

Tip 21  Sexual Assault

Tip 22  Student Athletes

Tip 23  Tolerance

Tip 24  Vomiting

Tip 25  Women

Identifying Alcohol Problems

Athletics Evaluation

Blood Alcohol Level

About Jim Matthews, M.Ed. 

Tip 3:          Alcohol Poisoning


Alcohol changes brain chemistry and can be lethal in high doses.  Death from alcohol poisoning is a result of the depressant action of alcohol on the brain centers that control consciousness, respiration and heart rate.  As a central nervous system depressant, alcohol can depress these vital brain centers resulting first in coma and then death.  An additional complication is that alcohol also depresses the gag reflex. This reflex is responsible for allowing our bodies to vomit - to rid the body of the extra alcohol it cannot process. (See Tip #24: Vomiting) If the gag reflex is unable to work properly, our systems continue to absorb excessive levels of alcohol thus contributing to a greater risk for alcohol poisoning.


The symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

•    Cold, clammy and pale or bluish skin color.

•    The drinker won’t wake up even after yelling the person’s name or pinching him/her.

•    The drinker’s breathing rate is less than 10 times per minute and/or there are more than 10 seconds between breaths.

•    A strong odor of alcoholic beverage.


How much is too much?  Most medical professionals agree that a Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) of .40% or greater can kill someone.  However, there are many cases of death occurring at lower BALs and people surviving at higher BALs. If you are having difficulty in determining whether an individual is acutely intoxicated, contact a health professional immediately - you cannot afford to guess.


If you call 911 and are waiting for emergency transport, gently turn the intoxicated person on his/her side.  Help him/her maintain that position by placing a pillow in the small of the person's back. This is important because it can help prevent aspiration (choking) should the person vomit. Stay with the person until medical help arrives. 


Some students admit they are afraid of getting a heavily intoxicated drinker in trouble.  My response: “Which would you rather have, an angry friend or a dead friend?”




If you have even the slightest doubt about someone’s condition, get professional help.  If you suspect other drugs have also been ingested, be sure to tell the medical professionals.

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