Staying safe on St. Patrick’s Day

 

The Royal Purple sat down with professionals with University Health & Counseling Services to help answer questions and give students advice on how to drink safely on St. Patrick’s Day.

Wellness/AOD Educator

Amanda Krentz

Krentz

 

RP: How many drinks do you need to consume in order for it to be considered “binge drinking?” 

Krentz: For males, it is five or more, and for females, it is four or more. This is within a two-hour period.

 

RP: What is the best advice you could give to someone who is planning on drinking on St. Patrick’s Day?  

Krentz:

Set a limit. It’s okay to have one or two drinks to have a good time. Many people like that “high” or “buzzed” feeling so know when to stop after that

Avoid drinking games

Stick with one kind of alcohol throughout the night

Alternate drinking alcohol with water

Eat something before you start drinking

Never leave your drink unattended

Have a designated driver

Go with your friends

Know the signs of alcohol poisoning: slowed breathing, pale or bluish skin and/or vomiting profusely

Even if a person has one of these symptoms, call 911

 

RP: What is a safe limit when it comes to consuming alcohol? 

Krentz: I would say one drink per hour. You don’t want to put so much pressure on your liver that it overloads. When I say one drink I mean 1.5 ounces of liquor, 12 ounces of beer or five ounces of wine.

 

RP: What should someone do if they think they’ve consumed too much alcohol? 

Krentz: First, stop drinking then ask a friend to take them home. If you’re going to sleep, sleep on your side, drink water and have a friend stay with you.

 

RP: What can happen if alcohol and drugs are combined? 

Krentz: Drugs or any medication speeds up the feeling of being drunk. Or you can feel the effects of the drug faster and stronger. Your body has to decide if it wants to process the drug or the alcohol first. Effects vary depending on the drug.

 

AODA/EAP Counselor 

Natalie Pitroski

 

Pitroski

RP: How does alcohol dependency start?  

Pitroski: Alcohol dependency is a disease and is treated as such by the medical community.  Alcohol dependency is a progressive disease, meaning it has the potential to become more severe overtime if it is untreated. As with many diseases, alcohol dependency has a genetic component, so some of us are at higher risk because of our genetic predisposition.  There are many factors that contribute to this condition, and research continues to be done.  One interesting research finding is that the younger a person starts using a drug, the greater likelihood they have to become dependent on it.

 

RP: What are the signs of alcohol dependency?

Pitroski: In the initial phase of the disease, the person appears to be able to control their drinking on some level.  They may drink “too much” on occasion, but they can justify it by finding an excuse for why it got out of control that particular time.  As the disease progresses, the person’s ability to “control” the drinking becomes more difficult and more obvious; black outs become more frequent, tolerance increases and alcohol becomes a larger focus in their life.  This person may start to choose alcohol over other things they enjoyed, and they begin to give up those other hobbies or relationships to put more energy into their drinking.

 

RP: How can someone who is dependent on alcohol get help for themselves?  

Pitroski: Students can seek services at UHCS, where we can discuss their concerns and explore their treatment options together.  We usually start with individual counseling to focus on their goals and discuss additional options as needed.  There is also a strong Alcoholics Anonymous community in southern Wisconsin.  These meetings are free, anonymous and open to anyone interested in addressing their drinking issues.  A meeting can be found any day of the week, sometimes multiple times a day, in Whitewater or surrounding communities.

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