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Alcohol safety tips for spring break

Many students are gearing up to take trips to warmer climates for spring break next week—finally, a much-needed break from the stress of school, work and the gloomy Memphis weather.

Josh Caldwell, a senior at the UofM, is taking a group trip to Panama City, Florida. He says he is looking forward to drinking at the beach and night clubs.

“I’m probably going to be drinking around 10 beers a day,” Caldwell said. “Start off my mornings with some vodka and pineapple juice on the beach.”

Spring break is an excellent opportunity to explore new places and meet new people. Often, alcohol is the social lubricant people use to enhance their experience. However, experts say there are some concerns with excessive alcohol consumption, especially on spring break. Drinking can create precarious situations that may have long-term effects. Legal troubles, injuries, negatively impacting scholarships and future career opportunities are all outcomes to be mindful of when drinking. James Murphy, Ph.D, a psychology professor at the UofM, says that college students drink more alcohol than any other age group or demographic. About one-third of college students report binge drinking on a monthly basis, according to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Binge drinking is having four or more drinks for a woman, and five or more drinks for a man, on one occasion.

“If you have that many drinks on one occasion, you’re at greater risk for negative outcomes such as getting into a fight, getting pulled over or doing something you regret,” Murphy said.

He says that there are precautions students can use to stay safe while drinking alcohol. Be aware of who you are drinking with, and the risks that come with drinking with a lot with people you don’t know.

“Make sure you are eating food before and during if you do choose to drink,” Murphy said. “Another really important strategy is to alternate drinking alcohol with water or another nonalcoholic drink. If you are going to be out for a while at a club, have a glass of water between each alcoholic drink, that is a nice way to force yourself to space your drinks out.”

It is also imperative to not mix alcohol with any drugs or medications. The amount of impairment is multiplied when you combine the two. In addition, students should be wary of consuming liquor in other countries. Bootlegged liquor can be hazardous to the body, and the drinking water may not be safe. Staying away from mixed drinks on spring break is a good idea.

The risk of alcohol poisoning is heightened due in part to the excessive binge drinking on spring break. Mandy Aycock, a health instructor at the UofM, says students should plan before they choose to drink. She says if you are drinking, you should have someone in your group that stays sober. It is critical to have a clear-minded friend that can keep an eye out for the group.

“I know it’s hard when you’re on spring break, around friends and everything is kind of crazy,” Aycock said. “Definitely have plans in place, know the emergency numbers for where you are and the nearby hospital locations just in case.”

It’s not pleasant to think about, however, being drugged or roofied is a serious concern when drinking in a public setting.

“It’s really common when you’re somewhere you don’t know people,” Aycock said. “Someone hands you a drink; you don’t know if it has extra drugs in it, so only get your own drinks. Don’t be afraid to call for help if a situation like that happens.”

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