Alcohol & Other Drugs Program
Not all University of Idaho students choose to drink, but for those who choose to use alcohol, we just want you to be safe.
*Based on data from the 2020 National College Health Assessment.
A standard drink contains approximately 14 grams of pure alcohol and allows us to compare different types of alcohol. For example, a 12-ounce beer has the same alcohol content as 5-ounces of wine or 1.5-ounces of 80 proof liquor.
Each drink we consume increases our BAC by approximately .02, although it varies by weight and gender. If we consume too much too quickly, we are at higher risk of experiencing alcohol-related harm. Keeping track of how many standard drinks we consume and pacing ourselves is an effective strategy for reducing risk.
BAC is the concentration of alcohol in a person’s blood. Each standard drink increases BAC by about .02-.04, but does depend on several biological factors, so alcohol will affect people differently. The two factors that affect BAC the most is how much alcohol is consumed and how quickly it was consumed. A person’s BAC will increase much more quickly after three or four standard drinks than just one or two standard drinks.
BAC is also affected by weight and sex at birth. The less we weigh, the higher our BAC increased by each drink. The BAC of a person weighing 120 pounds will increase much more quickly than the BAC of a person weighing 200 pounds if both people consumed the same amount of alcohol over the same amount of time. The BAC of people who were born females will rise more quickly than the BAC of people who were born males. This is due to females typically having less blood volume than males, as well as fewer digestive enzymes to break down alcohol when it is consumed.
Use the online HealthStatus BAC Calculator.
U of I students report using these strategies “always” or “most of the time” to reduce their risk of negative outcomes if they choose to drink:
- Use a designated driver
- Stay with the same group of friends the entire time
- Eat before or during drinking
- Keeping track of drinks consumed
- Stick with one type of alcohol
- Determine in advance not to exceed set number of drinks
- Have a friend let you know when you have had enough
- Alternate non-alcoholic with alcoholic beverages
- Avoid drinking games
- Choose not to drink alcohol
Source: 2015 National College Health Assessment Survey
How can we tell if someone is just really drunk or is experiencing life-threatening acute alcohol poisoning?
When people drink too much too fast, they are at risk of alcohol poisoning. The body is unable to keep up with toxic levels of alcohol and begins shutting down. If any of these signs are present, it could be life-threatening and the person needs immediate medical attention.
- If the person is unconscious and cannot be awoken.
- If their skin is cold clammy, pale or bluish in color.
- If their breathing is slow or irregular, less than one breath every ten seconds.
- If they have vomited while passed out.
If one or more of these signs are present, take the following emergency response steps:
- Call 911 or delegate someone to call.
- Turn the person onto their side in the “recovery position.”
- If breathing stops, perform CPR or find someone who knows how.
- Do not leave the person alone.
Put one arm overhead, and lift the opposite knee up, making the shape of a flamingo's legs. Place the opposite elbow on chest, roll to one side. With the knee and elbows serving as kickstand, tuck other hand under chin.
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