Alcohol and Drugs
You'll definitely encounter alcohol and drinking while you are at college, but there are many people at college who don't drink. Many people prefer doing activities that don't involve drinking, such as going participating in athletic events, going to a movie, concert, or play, or going out to eat. Before you make any decisions about drinking, you should know the risks.
Some of the risks of drinking include:
- Sexual harassment and date rape are more likely to occur when alcohol is involved.
- Violent, and/or sexually aggressive behavior.
- Illness (or even death). Heavy drinking in high school and college can cause drinking problems in the future.
- Heavy drinking is also a cause of weight gain. Alcohol is high in calories and very low in nutrients.
Alcohol consumption is related to the three leading causes of death among teens and young adults: unintentional injury, homicides, and suicides. It can and does prevent people from thinking clearly and making good decisions. While drinking, a person is more apt to do something that they may regret later (for example, engaging in unsafe sexual behavior).
How do I make a decision about drinking at college?
You probably know that drinking under the age of 21 is illegal and you'll get in legal trouble if you're caught. However, you'll probably encounter alcohol at some point before you turn 21, which is the legal drinking age in the United States. Obviously, the best way to avoid drinking-related problems is to not drink at all.
If you decide to drink, it should be your own decision and not because other people want you to, or tell you to. Also, remember that if you drink more than one or two drinks, you may lose bodily control and may not be able to think clearly.
If you do decide to drink, here are some tips to stay safe:
- Be in control of your beverage at all times. Never put your drink down and walk away. Date rape drugs such as “Roofies" (slang for Rohypnol ) can easily be put in a drink without you even noticing. Roofies cause drowsiness, dizziness, memory loss, and other dangerous symptoms.
- Don't drive if you have been drinking, and don’t ride with someone else who has been drinking. Alcohol makes your judgment cloudy, slows your reflexes, and affects your vision.
- Don’t play drinking games such as “beer pong”, "flip cup", "power hour", etc. People tend to drink just to get drunk while playing these games, and end up consuming a lot more alcohol this way.
- If you feel that you have a drinking problem or if your friends are commenting on your drinking, see a counselor for help.
Be smart when it comes to drinking, and try out different activities that don't include alcohol. You'll see that you don't need to drink to have a good time. If you feel that you need to drink to “fit in”, you always have the choice to drink a beverage that does not contain alcohol. If you feel funny about not drinking an alcoholic beverage, you can order a drink that looks like it has alcohol in it, but doesn't, such as seltzer or club soda with ice.
You may see people doing drugs at college, or someone may try to pressure you to try them. Try to remember that the majority of young adults don't use drugs.
Some of the dangers of drugs include:
- Many drugs, including "weed" (Marijuana) contain many dangerous, toxic chemicals.
- Trying a drug "just once" may seem harmless, but you really never know exactly what’s in it.
- Drugs are illegal. If you are caught, you'll likely face a large fine or time in jail. A police record can limit your career choices. Even trying drugs just once can be something that you'll regret later on.
- Car crashes, falls, and suicide are all linked to drug use.
- Continuous drug use can ruin your looks, cause you to do worse in school, make you depressed, and destroy your relationships with friends and family.
If you have a friend with a drug problem, gather the support of other friends and do your best to get him or her to go for help. The same goes for you if you develop a drug problem. Remember that drugs won't make you happy or "cool". The way to be happy is to do activities that you like. You can join clubs, play sports or games, go out to dinner, to the movies, or do any number of other safe activites that you enjoy.
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