UT University Health Services

Having Fun & Playing It Safe

For some students, going out with friends may involve alcohol. For others, it may not. According to the 2017 National College Health Assessment survey, 28% of UT students chose not to drink any alcohol the last time they socialized with friends or partied. Out of UT students that do choose to drink, 60% report that they do so moderately by having four or less drinks per occasion. The tips on this page can help reduce the potential for harm while choosing to drink.

Avoiding Alcohol/Drug-Related Problems

Taking some risks is an expected and normal part of the college experience. Setting guidelines can help prevent problems that could have lasting impacts on your life and those of your friends. The goal is to reduce the likelihood of harm to yourself or others by:

  • thinking and planning ahead,
  • making mindful decisions around substance use,
  • setting limits around alcohol and drug use and
  • eliminating unreasonable risks where possible.

What You Can Do

UT students use a variety of simple techniques to reduce potential harm associated with drinking. Research shows that the more techniques used, the less likely a person will experience negative consequences (i.e., hangovers, injury, regret, memory loss, harm to self and others, etc.). Using three or more of these techniques is a best practice for reducing alcohol-related risk:

  • Choose safe and familiar settings in which to drink.
  • Drink with people you know and trust.
  • Use a designated driver.
  • Set a limit and stick to it.
  • Count your drinks.
  • Know the Bacchus Maneuver (Correctly positioning a person who has passed out from alcohol use so they don’t choke if they vomit.)
  • Learn how to say, "no thanks" and "no more".
  • Avoid drinking games.
  • Eat before and while drinking.
  • Alternate alcoholic with non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Avoid drinking while taking medications, whether prescribed to you or not.
  • Mix your own drinks or know exactly what's in them.
  • Pace drinks to one or fewer per hour.
  • Avoid mixing alcohol and energy drinks. Alcohol is a depressant and slows the functions of the brain. Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase alertness. Combining the two can lead to a “wide awake drunk,” where individuals mistakenly conclude that they can continue drinking or perform tasks such as driving.

Standard Drink Sizes

A "standard" drink is any drink that contains about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol. Below are different drink sizes, each containing approximately the same amount of alcohol and counting as a single standard drink. The examples serve as starting point for comparison.

Standard Alcoholic Drink

serving sizes and types of alcohol
  • A standard drink refers to one 12-oz. beer or hard seltzer, one 5-oz. glass of wine, or one 1.5-oz. shot of hard liquor.
  • Consider cup size when factoring number of drinks consumed. For example, a red solo cup holds 16-oz., so a full cup of beer would correspond to 1.33 standard drinks. Use this Drink Size Calculator to learn how many standard drinks are in various beverages and sizes of containers.
  • People at risk for developing an alcohol use disorder have increased risk with any level of alcohol consumption, even that below a "risky" level.
  • For pregnant women, any drinking presents risk to the fetus.
  • Drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal.

Binge drinking, or high-risk drinking, is a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or higher. This typically corresponds to a person drinking 4-5 or more drinks in about 2 hours. Binge drinking puts the drinker and others around them at risk of negative consequences such as alcohol overdose, injury, health problems, drinking and driving incidents or alcohol dependence. When making decisions about drinking, take precautions and make informed decisions to reduce the likelihood of harm for yourself and those around you.

Source: NIAAA Newsletter (NIH Publication No. 04-5346, Number 3, page 3). (Winter 2004). Bethesda, MD: NIAAA Office of Research Translation and Communications, NIAAA, NIH, DHHS.

Helpful Links

Alcohol and Drugs
Bruce the Bat
Alcohol Overdose and the Recovery Position
Prescription Drug Misuse
Prescription Stimulant Misuse
Having Fun and Playing Safe
Naloxone / Narcan

Programs and Classes

Individual Consultations
AlcoholEdu and SAPU
Brief Alcohol Screening Intervention for College Students (BASICS)
Center for Students in Recovery
Student Amnesty for Alcohol Emergencies


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