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Office of Health Promotion Philosophy
William & Mary is a community that strives to foster deep human connection. We value belonging, curiosity, excellence, flourishing, respect, and service. Our students often say, “We take care of each other.” To that end, we share a responsibility to promote healthy behaviors. Prescribing to an integrative approach to wellness, we assist students, staff, and faculty in understanding the risk associated with the consumption of alcohol while seeking to minimize the harm to self and others associated with abuse and misuse of alcohol.
Things to know about alcohol

Alcohol is created naturally when sugars in grains, vegetables and fruits are fermented. Distilled spirits or liquors go through an additional process of evaporation and condensation. Alcohol exists in many types and strengths (e.g., Vodka, whiskey, brandy, cognac, wine, beer Etc.) and affects people in different ways. Whether it is your first-time consuming, or you are a frequent user, here are some things to consider if you choose to use.

Alcohol may be used in a healthy manner and can also be used in a way that causes problems and even lead to addiction. Just because it is legal does not mean it is risk-free or not likely to harm, a fact that can be easily forgotten. Federal, state law and W&M policy prohibits the use of alcohol to those under the age of 21.

W&M Alcohol Beverage Policy

If you choose to use:
If you choose to drink alcohol
#1 What’s Your Why?

Taking time to reflect on your relationship with alcohol and the reasons you may choose to consume can help you have a healthy relationship with the substance more of the experiences you want to have and minimize negative outcomes. 

First, think about how your values align with your choice to consume…think about the feelings, actions, or benefits you want to experience from using. Consider what your expectation is when you use, (e.g., forget about troubles, feel calm, socialize with friends, reduce pain Etc.), also consider things you do not wish to occur (e.g., lose control, memory issues, increased anxiety, academic problems. Pondering this is a start to understanding your motivation for use and deciding to consume or not.
#2 Be aware of the amount you are consuming

Standard drinks contain approximately the same amount of alcohol and are helpful in estimating blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This means that 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of 80 proof alcohol, all contain approximately the same amount of alcohol. It is important to understand standard-size drinks because the liver typically processes one standard-size drink per hour. Additionally, alcohol is not always served in the same size container as a standard drink. The Alcohol Beverage Volume (ABV) in craft beers, wines, liquors, and mixed drinks are not always equivalent to the ABV of a standard drink. While your liver processes the alcohol, the remaining amount runs through the bloodstream and has been shown to alter one’s visual function and perceptions, one’s ability to process information Etc. at certain levels. High BAC levels increase one’s chance for negative outcomes.

more on BAC & how to calculate
#3 Avoid mixing alcohol and other substances

Using one substance at a time is more likely to result in a safer experience. Mixing two or more substances can make it challenging to predict what is going to happen or how you will be affected. Furthermore, two or more substances used together can result in adverse side effects. Play it safe by only using one substance at a time. Be aware that the majority of medications caution Do Not Drink with Alcohol.
#4 Wait before engaging in activities that may put you at a higher risk

It is well known that you should not drink and drive. Because most and generally individuals don’t know how much they have consumed or what their BAC might be, it is advised that you do not drink or drive, even if you think you “feel fine”. Understand, even when you feel you are far removed from your last drink, your BAC could continue to rise. Remember the liver can only process one drink and hour, it could take several hours for your BAC to be zero. Don’t take the risk.
# 5 Reduce your risk  

Consuming alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal. If you choose to drink alcohol, there are several ways to minimize negative consequences including:

• Plan your night out
• Know your limit: Set a drink limit and stick to it
• Eat before and while drinking
• Pace yourself at 1 drink per hour (drink water or non-alcohol beverages between alcoholic ones can help)
• Avoid intentional excessive drinking
• Avoid drinking games
• Respect a person’s decision not to drink
• Have a Designated Driver or rideshare prepared
#6 Know signs of alcohol poisoning

The following are signs of alcohol poisoning. Be mindful that it is not your job to decide if someone is “okay” and needs to sleep it off. If you see any signs call for assistance.

Alcohol poisoning, symptoms/signs:
Slow or no reflexes or response
Difficulty or inability to remain conscious
Trouble breathing
Clammy, pale, or bluish lips

What should I do in the meantime?
Put the person in the recovery position

stay with the person call 911

Stay with the person, Call 911.
Do not leave the person alone, do not give the person anything to drink, do not put them in a cold shower, and do not let them sleep it off.