University is an exciting time and a chance to experience new things, but also a time of greater responsibility. You’ll have experiences you’ll remember for the rest of your life. When it comes to alcohol, knowing your limits and drinking within them will help you to make your University days the most enjoyable of your life.
Everyone has a completely different relationship with alcohol - some people can drink large amounts and feel relatively normal, others may start to feel the effects of alcohol after just one drink. So it's important to remember this when drinking with friends, and be aware that you have a responsibility to look out for others, not to pressure them (or feel pressured) into drinking, and also know how to get help and support when necessary.
Here are a few simple steps you and your friends can take to stay safe when drinking, courtesty of Drink Aware, the UK's independent alcohol education charity:
Know your limits
The alcohol unit guidelines (of not drinking more than 14 units a week) are in place to help protect you and keep the risk of long and short-term harms from drinking alcohol low. The more you drink, the less you will be able to spot dangerous situations or do something risky. Stick to them and you are less likely to suffer from alcohol poisoning or be in a position to help a friend who has drunk too much.
Don’t drink and drown
Alcohol seriously affects your ability to get yourself out of trouble. Alcohol numbs the senses, particularly sight, sound and touch, making swimming very difficult. So, however tempting it may be after a few drinks, please act responsibly near water especially after drinking alcohol.
Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) say a quarter of all adult drowning victims have alcohol in their bloodstream. The RLSS have a dedicated Don’t Drink and Drown campaign to try and reduce the high number of university students who drown after drinking.
Eat before you drink
Eating before you go out and drinking plenty of water will also help you not to get too drunk. There’s no shame in having a soft drink or water when you’re in the pub. You’ll be much better company if you’re sober enough to enjoy your night out
Watch your drink
Drinks spiked with alcohol or drugs can make you vulnerable. It can be a scary experience and many people don’t report the incidence because they simply don’t remember what happened.
The symptoms of drink spiking vary on the person or the substance(s) used. You may not notice a difference to the taste of your drink and may simply feel sick or drowsy. If you or your friend suspect you’ve had your drink spiked tell a bouncer or bar staff and call an ambulance. You can use a bottle stopper (provided for free at SHSU's Hideout) to help prevent drink spiking.
We work with the Sheffield Drug & Alcohol Coordination Team to help students who need help, advice or support around their drinking habits. Free, confidential information is available at our fortnightly Welfare Thursday drop-in sessions, and also by contacting Sheffield DACT directly.