It is important to understand the difference between high risk and low risk drinking. Often, what has a tendency to lead to high risk drinking is the misconceptions surrounding how to preserve that "buzzed" feeling.
It is imperative to recognize the difference between tolerance and BAC. One can have a high tolerance and not recognize their level of intoxication. However, just because you think you "handle" alcohol well, does not have anything to do with your BAC.
Keeping BAC below .05 maximizes the positive effects of alcohol while minimizing the risk of negative outcomes.
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is the percentage of alcohol in your blood.
The peak high or buzz a person feels from alcohol is reached at BACs between .02 and .06.
Judgment and reaction skills are impaired at BACs of .05 and above and reaching a BAC of .05 or higher is more likely to result in adverse consequences.
So...safer drinking means keeping your BAC below .05 (aka "The Pleasure Zone")
Pace & space - Sip your drink instead of chugging, alternate with water or soda and have no more than one (1) drink/hour. On average, it takes nearly three (3) hours for most people to eliminate the alcohol in two (2) standard drinks.
Eat before and while drinking - Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream more slowly when there is food (especially protein) in your stomach.
Avoid mixing alcohol with other drugs - Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs (e.g. antihistamines, sedatives) can increase alcohol’s effects. Caffeine and other stimulants can trick you into feeling less impaired.
Use caution when sick or tired - When you’re sleep deprived or ill, alcohol leaves the body more slowly.
Zero drinks is the only safe choice for people in certain higher-risk situations—for example when driving, pregnant, taking certain prescription or over-the-counter medications or with health conditions such as alcoholism. Consuming alcohol under the age of 21 can lead to legal consequences.1
No more than 1 drink per hour. On average, it takes nearly 3 hours for most people to eliminate the alcohol in 2 standard drinks.2
No more than 2 drinks on any one day 3
No more than 7 drinks per week 3
If a man and a woman of the same height and weight consume the same amount of alcohol over the same period of time, the woman will have a higher BAC.
The Fraternal Health and Safety Initiative encourages all of the members of our Consortium Fraternities ans Sororities to consider the facts about alcohol and strategies they can use to lower their risk. If you are concerned about your own usage, or that of one of your brothers/sisters, we encourage you to visit the Self-Assessment section of this site. This serves as a tool where individual members can get feedback in regards to their drinking behaviors. These assessments can be used by chapter executive committees or standards boards in providing educational sanctions for their brothers, as well.
1 Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. Available online at: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/ document/.
2 National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Available online at http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/CollegeStudents/alcoholMyths.aspx#
3 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2006) Young Adult Drinking. Alcohol Alert, No. 68. Available online at http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa68/aa68.htm