Waking up with a headache and no recollection of the previous night is one of the many after effects that come along with a night of binge drinking.
Binge drinking, which is defined as drinking excessively during a short period of time, can lead to blacking out, passing out and eventual alcoholism.
Amanda Krentz, University Health and Counseling Services alcohol and other drug abuse educator, said binge drinking can also be defined by the number of drinks an individual has consumed.
If a female consumes four drinks in less than two hours, then she is binge drinking. For males, consuming more than four drinks in a two-hour time frame is considered binge drinking.
A standard drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of liquor.
“When people drink, they don’t realize how many 1.5 ounces of shots they are putting in their drinks,” Krentz said.
In any college town, local bars or taverns are one of the main sites where binge drinking habits begin in a student.
Senior Nicole Thalacker has worked at the Hawk’s Nest in downtown Whitewater for two years. Thalacker bartends multiple times a week and said she has seen plenty of students who consume alcohol too fast.
“I’ve noticed that binge drinking is typical in a college town,” Thalacker said. “Because so many people are doing it, it seems ‘normal’ to everyone.”
The Hawk’s Nest employees use their best judgment when dealing with customers who might be binge drinking, Thalacker said.
Though there is no strict policy in place as to when customers need to stop drinking, the Hawk’s Nest employees will cut someone off from alcohol if they need to.
“I’ve never had to ask anyone to leave Hawk’s Nest because they were too intoxicated,” Thalacker said. “If someone is that drunk, I try and talk to them, offer them water and talk to the people they are with.”
In order to educate individuals about alcohol consumption, Krentz and other UHCS employees visit UW-Whitewater classrooms and work with student organizations.
Krentz’s presentations include a visual demonstration where students can see how many 1.5 ounce shots they pour into a drink.
“This exercise is a shock to students, because they don’t realize how fast a drink adds up during the night,” Krentz said.
Krentz also goes over how the media markets alcohol to students, how to drink safely, the differences between blacking out and passing out, signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning, and myths about sobering up.
UHCS Alcohol and Drug Counselor Natalie Pitroski meets with students who have questions about alcohol and drug usage and counsels those who feel they have an addiction.
Pitroski said two of the key pieces people need to watch out for when drinking are blacking out and tolerance.
“Binge drinking and these two factors can lead to addiction or alcoholism later in life,” Pitroski said.
Thalacker said she doesn’t see a lot of people pass out or black out at the Hawk’s Nest, but she tries to help if she sees someone struggling.
“If someone seems to be drunk, I will call them a cab,” Thalacker said. “As a bartender, it’s good to know I am getting our customers home safely.”
Students believe myths about sobering up such as eating bread, drinking water or sleeping it off. Krentz said there is nothing you can do to sober up besides stop drinking.
“It takes approximately one hour to get one standard drink out of your system,” Krentz said. “All you can do after you’ve consumed a lot of alcohol is to wait it out.”
In order to help students get away from the path of binge drinking, Pitroski said she tries to help the students think of other things to do besides drink.
“Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding balance in your life,” Pitroski said. “I help students find other things to do on nights, hanging out with a different group of people and how to make their social life bigger.”
Krentz said awareness and education are needed to curb binge drinking.
Whitewater has plenty of resources for students who have questions or concerns about alcohol usage. Counselors at the UHCS are available to talk to students, and everything said will be confidential. There is also a young people’s Alcoholics Anonymous group at the Starin Community Center.
In order to curb binge drinking, Thalacker said all bartenders need to be aware of the people coming in and their actions.
“I know sometimes it gets really busy and you’re not able to keep a close eye on everyone, but be aware of how much you’re serving someone and how much they’ve had to drink,” Thalacker said. “It’s a big responsibility, but everyone at the Hawk’s Nest has to take on that responsibility.”
Pitroski said alcoholism can begin at an early age, and that you don’t necessarily see the extreme consequences of alcoholism until later in life.
“It’s important for people to pay attention to their habits so they can recognize if they’re going down a path they do not want to go down,” Pitroski said. “If you address these issues early on, often times you can change the course of your own life.”
All of this information was compiled by employees at the University Health and Counseling Services at UW-Whitewater . This information, along with more, can be found at http://www.uww.edu/uhcs/az/alcohol.html.