You’re away from home for the first time. You can stay out as late as you want, do whatever you want. You’re free – and it’s fun. The last thing you want is for a nasty incident to spoil your new-found freedom.
Who wants a drunken student night out ending with lost phones, purses, wallets or, worse, a fight or even a visit to A&E?
Colleges and universities are really well geared up to look after their students. Your Student Union will have a Welfare Officer, there’ll be on-campus nurses and doctors, and there’s lots of free advice available to help keep you safe during your studies.
But to be really safe, students also need to take responsibility for themselves and their mates. So on a night out, there are just a few really easy steps you can take to make sure the night goes off without incident.
Drinkaware* provides some key steps to help you stay safe with alcohol at college or university.
Knowing your limits:
The alcohol unit guidelines (i.e. not drinking more than 14 units a week) are in place to help protect you and reduce the risk of long and short-term harms resulting from drinking alcohol.
The more you drink, the less able you will be to spot dangerous situations, and the greater the chance that you might do something risky. Alcohol poisoning, from drinking large quantities of alcohol, is both very unpleasant and can be dangerous. Stick to the guidelines and you are less likely to suffer from this, and more likely to be in a position to help a friend who has drunk too much.
It is sometimes difficult to know how many units of alcohol are in a particular drink, or to keep track of how many units you are drinking. Have a look at this nifty Drinkaware* unit calculator to help you.
*DRiNKLiNK has no affiliation with Drinkaware but we found this nifty unit calculator during our research and thought some of you may find it helpful.
Don’t drink and drown:
Drinking alcohol seriously affects your ability to get yourself out of trouble.
Alcohol numbs the senses, particularly sight, hearing and touch, and also affects muscle coordination and spatial awareness. These effects can make swimming very difficult.
According to The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS), a quarter of all adult drowning victims have alcohol in their bloodstream. The RLSS has a dedicated Don’t Drink and Drown campaign to try and reduce the high number of college and university students who drown after drinking.
So, however tempting it may be to take a dip or horse around near water after a few drinks, please resist this urge and act responsibly near water after drinking alcohol.
Watch your drink:
Having your drink spiked with alcohol or drugs can be a scary experience and can make you vulnerable.
The symptoms of drink spiking vary depending on the individual or the substance(s) used. You may not notice a difference to the taste of your drink and may simply feel sick or drowsy. But if you start to feel strange soon after a drink, or seem to be getting drunk more quickly than usual, your drink may have been spiked. If you suspect that this has happened to you, tell a member of security or bar staff straight away. If you are with somebody whose drink may have been spiked and their condition deteriorates, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
If you think your drink may have been spiked, and if you can, keep what is left of your drink. Should you end up under medical care, this can provide valuable information to medical staff on what substance has been added to your drink.
Many people don’t report an incident of drink spiking, because some drugs commonly used to spike drinks can cause unconsciousness and affect memory, so the victim simply may not remember what happened. If you suspect you may have been assaulted, try to tell someone you trust, and go to the Police, local GP or hospital. If you don’t feel able to do this straight away, you can call the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre on 0808 802 9999 (12 – 2.30pm and 7-9.30pm every day).
To reduce the risk of having your drink spiked, it is good to get into the habit of not leaving your drink unattended when you go to the toilet or to dance. Take it with you to the dance floor if you can, or ask a friend who will be staying at the table to look after your drink for you.
And of course, always drink within the guidelines (and your own limits) and you’ll be in the best position to keep you and your friends safe.
Know the limits:
Not quite 18? It’s a common challenge. Click here to find out more about age limits and why they are important.
*DRiNKLiNK has no affiliation with Drinkaware.