Alcohol and Your Life

Drinking alcohol is a common experience amongst college students. For most students, daily life functioning, such as academics, relationships, or health is not affected by occasional or moderate drinking. However, if you feel that your drinking is affecting you, help is available!

Self Evaluation

Do you:

  • Drink to socialize, to feel more comfortable, or to get drunk?
  • Drink more than you initially planned?
  • Drink before going out to get a "buzz"?
  • Find yourself drinking more frequently?
  • Find yourself drinking more each time?
  • Have increased tolerance? Are you able to drink more before getting intoxicated?
  • Go to work or school late due to drinking?
  • Choose your friends and social activities around the opportunities to drink?
  • Experience memory loss while drinking?
  • Have physical complaints that may be related to drinking, for example, low energy, weight loss or weight gain, sleeplessness, or accidents?
  • Often think about drinking?
  • Have friends/family members who have expressed their concern about your drinking?
  • Drink alone?

If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, you may benefit from further exploration about your drinking. Additionally, using alcohol to escape or to deal with life's difficulties, doesn't allow effective coping skills to develop. In fact, research has found that alcohol actually increases the stress response in your body!

Suggestions for Decreasing Your Alcohol Use

  • Write down your reasons for cutting down or stopping. Honestly assess whether you want to cut down. You may want to also list ways in which alcohol has affected you academically, socially, legally, or health-wise.
  • Set a limit each time you go out to drink.
  • Keep a journal/diary log of your drinking (e.g., what day of the week, time of day, what was going on that prompted you to want to drink, # of drinks, type of drinks, place consumed, who you were with each time) & notice any patterns.
  • Keep only a small amount or no alcohol at home.
  • Drink very slowly; sip.
  • Stick to the "1-1-2 Drinking Rule": 1 alcoholic drink per 1 hour not to exceed 2 alcoholic drinks per evening.
  • Alternate with non-alcoholic drinks (e.g., water) between alcoholic drinks.
  • Take a break from alcohol; pick a week or two that you will not drink at all. You may want to start with fewer days, if you are drinking several times a week.
  • Learn how to say "NO." Practice ways to say "no" politely.
  • Get support. Tell your friends about your intention to decrease drinking and suggest alternate activities to do together.
  • Be aware for situations, people, or places that prompt you to drink, even if you do not want to.
  • Make friends with those who do not revolve their life around alcohol or drugs.
  • Don't give up! If you don't reach your goal the first time, try again.
  • Develop an active life style. Try new things to do instead of drinking (e.g., hiking, playing sports or a game, seeing a movie, etc.).
  • Learn relaxation and meditation techniques so that you are not turning to alcohol in an attempt to decrease your stress.
  • Talk to a professional counselor to learn more healthy coping skills.

Concerned about a Friend?

  • If you are concerned about a friend's drinking, sit down and have a conversation.
  • Talk about how you have observed his/her drinking behavior interfering with his/her functioning, or perhaps interfering with your relationship with him/her.
  • Express your concerns in terms of your feelings/emotions (e.g., I am sad that I cannot spend more time with you because of the amount of your drinking; I know that you want to do well in school, but I am worried that your drinking causes you to miss classes...)
  • Ask if he/she is okay with the amount of alcohol they drink. If it is something that he/she wants to change, then suggest that you walk them over to see a professional counselor at Counseling Services.
  • Do not use adjectives or calling him/her names (e.g., lazy, a bum, belligerent, rude, etc.) when talk with your friend.

When to Contact Emergency Services

If you know of someone who has been drinking and shows any one of these signs:

  • Difficult to arouse or waken
  • Skin that is blue under finger nails
  • An intent on driving while using
  • Combativeness and belligerence
  • Do not wait! Call 911!

Come to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) in the Student Wellness Center, Room 300B (third floor), to further evaluate whether a problem actually exists, to learn more ways to cut down your drinking, and to learn more healthy coping skills. If your alcohol use is impacting your academics, we also have educational counselors who may help with your academic performance. Our personal counselors are available for appointments and walk in crisis counseling.  Please call us at 408-924-5910 to schedule an appointment or for more information.