standardDrink

Image from Brown.

Before you even embark on your freshman year of college, you’re going to have to take at least one last class: Alcohol Edu.

Though every school has their own version of this online course, there are some common themes and knowledge everyone has to know across the board. And you may think to yourself, “Well I’ll just pay attention to the class and it’ll be easy.” But I have a confession to make: I failed Alcohol Edu…twice. And it was simply because I didn’t know the information. I didn’t drink in high school, so everything was new to me.

Alcohol Edu is supposed to teach you safety and skills. However, the way it is designed is very biased towards those who already drink. So if you don’t know anything about drinking, you probably will fail.

However, I, a survivor of the horrors of Alcohol Edu, am here to keep you from ending up like me. Read on to see your comprehensive study guide for Alcohol Edu.

Part 1: Types, Proofs, and Measurements

Here’s the nitty gritty math you need to know about alcohol:

A standard drink is how you measure your alcohol, also known as “a drink”. A drink depends on the type of alcohol, but your basic measurements are:

  • 1.5oz of 80 proof hard liquor (these are your vodkas, tequilas, gins, rums, and whiskeys)
  • 5oz of wine
  • 12oz of beer

A “proof” is the percentage of alcohol that a drink is. A proof is twice the alcohol content, so if a drink is 100 proof it is 50% alcohol.

Part 2: Danger Zone

Alcohol is a depressant; it slows down your functions

Binge Drinking is defined as having 4 or more drinks in a night for women, or 5 or more for men. This isn’t five solo cups of punch, this is five standard drinks. A particularly strong batch of jungle juice could be five standard drinks per solo cup, which is why you should pour your own drinks.

BAC or blood alcohol content, is the amount of alcohol in your blood stream. Basically, this is what a breathalyzer measures, and is what will legally determine if you can drive or not. This is based on the legal limit, which is about .08 for 21 and over, and .02% for under 21. Here is a calculator for BAC, but remember that you should always play it safe when you’ve had to much to drink, especially if you’re under 21. Most schools will have some kind of van service that can pick you up, or someone will let you crash at their place if you’re too intoxicated to go home. Use these services.

If someone drinks too much they can get alcohol poisoning which can be deadly if not taken care of.
Signs of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Becoming unconscious
  • Seizures
  • Slow breathing
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Blue skin

If someone is exhibiting any of these symptoms call 911. If someone is passed out and you think they’re going to “sleep it off”, make sure to put them in the safety position (on their side, arm above the head) and stay with them to make sure they’re okay.

If you are under age, don’t be scared to get help. Your school probably has a medical amnesty policy, where anyone who seeks out help will not be punished. Also see if there is anyone who is 21 or sober who can help.

If you need to help someone, stay calm, stay with them, and be very discrete while in public. Be kind, and don’t embarrass or bring attention to them.

Seriously, when it comes to drinking better safe than sorry.

Part 3: Strategies

From Wikipedia

Not this kind of strategy. From Wikipedia.

Here comes the boring part, how do you avoid getting dangerously drunk?

There are a few ways to do this, and most of them are discrete.

1. Abstain from drinking: If you don’t want to drink, don’t worry about it. Nobody will care… seriously. Either be the designated driver (where you will be everyone’s hero), or just don’t drink. Parties will usually have mixers (juice and soda) that are alcohol free. Pour yourself a cup of cranberry juice and let the madness commence. If you’re following this strategy be careful, and make sure nothing you drink has alcohol in it (often times those little soda bottles people bring to parties are ½ coke and ½ rum). If you don’t bring attention to it, nobody will notice.

2. Limit and Count Your Drinks: Go into the night with a number in mind. Maybe you’ll have 3 shots, or you’ll nurse a beer all night. Know legal limits and what binge drinking is. This is another one where if you don’t draw attention to it, nobody will notice. Be smart, and know your standard drinks.

As a general safety tip, pour your own drinks. You’ll always know exactly what is in your drink, and it will keep someone from slipping things into your cup. Hold on to your cup, and if you need to put it down just get a new cup.

3. Avoid Drinking Games: Drinking games (like Pong, Kings, and Cheers Govenah) are designed to get you drunker faster. This can be dangerous, so be careful. If you must play a drinking game, stick to a game where you can control what you drink. Take sips, not shots or gulps. But for Alcohol Edu, just know that drinking games are bad.

4. Only time will decrease your BAC: The only effective way to decrease your BAC and “sober up” is to wait. Drink a whole lot of water to help yourself flush out the toxins (and to prevent a hangover or dehydration), but remember that it’s not going to help all that much. Peeing won’t help. Coffee won’t help. A cold shower won’t help. Sleep only helps in that it takes time. You metabolize about a drink per hour, so if you have 10 shots, you’re going to have to wait about 10 hours to be “sober” again.

Part 4: Glossary

This is the part that really got me when I took Alcohol Edu. Here are some more terms you’ll need to know to pass:

  • Black Out = when you lose your memory of the night
  • Brown Out = when you have a spotty memory of the night
  • Pass Out = when you fall “asleep” while drinking

All of the above are symptoms of a dangerous BAC.

  • Hangover = when you feel sick after drinking. Advil, water, Gatorade, and sleep will help.
  • Jungle Juice = the “punch” at a party. It’s usually juice and a lot of liquor. It can be dangerous because you don’t know what’s in it. Be safe, pour your own drinks.

Part 5: Not for the class

Here’s where I, a college junior with (ahem) a lot of 21-year-old friends and siblings, impart some wisdom on you:

1. Nobody can see how much you’re drinking, and nobody cares. If you don’t want to drink, don’t drink. Just pour yourself a cup of soda; if you’re drinking a red cup, nobody’s checking the contents. If you’re having one or two drinks and don’t want any more, just tell someone you’re “super drunk” and people will stop offering you things to drink.

2. Alcohol tolerance is a thing, and the seniors are going to be able to drink more than you. Don’t let it bother you, just remember you can get drunk a lot cheaper and faster.

3. Stop drinking when you’re drunk. You’re not going to have a “better” time because you’re blackout. Stay in control of yourself. Nobody likes taking care of a hot mess.

4. Urban Legends are sometimes true. If you’re sitting down and drinking, get up and walk around a bit every once in a while. You might be drunker than you think because you’re not moving or trying to balance.

5. Drink 2 bottles of water before bed.  Not an 8-ounce glass, but a big Nalgene of water. This is the only way to prevent a hangover. If you’re drinking a lot of cheap drinks though, it will probably not help.

The Bottom Line

Alcohol is part of campus life, and while Alcohol Edu is long and ridiculous, it really will teach you some great skills to handle drinking culture. It might seem “boring” or like it’s trying to “limit your fun” but drinking isn’t everything.

If you have any great tips for taking an alcohol education class, make sure to leave them in the comments below.



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the author

Jillian is better known by her pseudonym “CollegeApp Chick", which is half college application blog and half small private college advising business. She’s currently studying Psychology and Religious Studies at a small public school south of the Mason Dixon line. When not advising, studying, or blogging Jillian is an active member of the Shakespeare theatre club, sandbox improv, women’s chorus, and is an officer in a social sorority. She likes to talk, a lot. Most importantly, Jillian wears dresses more than 250 days a year. For more of Jillian’s tips, find her at her website or her Tumblr.

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  1. Ashlee on July 16, 2015

    Hi Jillian, I am taking the alcohol edu test now for the 7th time and although I have never drunken myself, I am very educated about the topic of alcohol. Unfortunately I am a horrible test taker and my university is requiring that you must have an 80 % or higher to pass instead of a 75% like most other schools. My score has gone from 72% to 75% and now 77% and I cant seem to move up in score wise. It’s very frustrating that alcohol edu wont show you the questions you got wrong and right. Do you have any tips to help me? Thanks so much

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