While most first years aren’t old enough to drink legally, alcohol invariably plays a big role in their lives. This is probably the first time in your life that no one will be peeking over your shoulder. You have few rules and you’re on your own. So, you might want to try a lot of the things that your folks wouldn’t allow while you were living with them.

Booze is easy to come by, even for underage students. Many school-sanctioned parties that are supposed to be “dry” will have alcohol. Keg parties are the norm, and it goes without saying that sporting events and booze go hand in hand.

There are many serious health risks related to drinking, including vomiting (and choking on it in your sleep), passing out, and blacking out. For first-year students who may not be experienced drinkers, the risks are even greater. Incidences of violence, date rape, accidents, and death all increase when college students drink alcohol.

An overdose of alcohol or drugs can be deadly. Signs to look out for include unconsciousness; shallow breathing (more than ten seconds between breaths); and pale, blue, or cold and clammy skin. If you suspect someone has overdosed or has alcohol poisoning, turn the person on his/her side (so he/she doesn’t choke on vomit), then call 911, campus police, your RA, or someone else who can help. You’re not being a tattletale: you’re saving a friend’s life.

Binge Drinking

Over 42 percent of first-year students report that they regularly “binge drink.” There are conflicting definitions as to what constitutes binge drinking. In the United States, the general definition is consuming more than five drinks in one “episode,” which can mean an hour or a whole day, if you’re a man; or consuming more than four drinks in an episode, if you’re a woman. Other countries define binge drinking as having more than ten drinks in a day, and others still as having at least two bottles of wine. Whatever the case, it pretty much means that you’re drinking to excess.

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