Hokie Wellness has various resources available for students to learn about alcohol and make smart decisions to maximize positive social outcomes and reduce or eliminate negative outcomes associated with alcohol.
Party Positive is an alcohol-use decision style that maximizes positive social outcomes and reduces or eliminates negative outcomes associated with alcohol. In order to experience the positives of drinking, it is important to moderate consumption by pacing and spacing drinks to maintain a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level at or below .06.
What is Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)?
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) refers to the percent of alcohol present in the blood. A person's absolute BAC level can only be obtained by drawing a sample of blood. However, if it is only an estimated BAC that is desired, you can use our “Party Positive” Guidelines to determine approximately how many standard drinks you can consume to stay in the Party Positive Zone (BAC at or below .06).
As Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Increases, So Does Impairment
- Mild Impairment
- Mild speech, memory, attention, coordination, balance impairments
- Perceived beneficial effects, such as relaxation
- Sleepiness can begin
- Increased Impairment
- Perceived beneficial effects of alcohol, such as relaxation, give way to increasing intoxication
- Increased risk of aggression in some people
- Speech, memory, attention, coordination, balance further impaired
- Significant impairments in all driving skills
- Increased risk of injury to self and others
- Moderate memory impairments
- Severe Impairment
- Speech, memory, coordination, attention, reaction time, balance significantly impaired
- All driving-related skills dangerously impaired
- Judgment and decision-making dangerously impaired
- Blackouts (gaps in memory)
- Vomiting and other signs of alcohol overdose common
- Loss of consciousness
- Life Threatening
- Loss of consciousness
- Danger of life-threatening alcohol overdose
- Significant risk of death in most drinkers due to suppression of vital life functions
Factors that affect BAC
- Weight - The less someone weighs, the less body water and mass they have to absorb the alcohol, which means they'll have a higher concentration of alcohol in their bloodstream and a higher BAC.
- Sex Assigned at Birth - Males tend to be able to process higher amounts of alcohol faster.
- Standard Drinks - The number of standard drinks you consume.
- Time - The faster you drink, the faster your BAC rises.
- Food - Alcohol consumed while/after eating food is absorbed slower because it spends more time in the stomach.
- Type of Alcohol - Different alcohols have different ABVs or alcohol by volume percentages.
- Tolerance - A progressive state when the body becomes accustomed to alcohol and over time the individual drinking will need to consume more to achieve the same effect.
- Other Liquids - Carbonated beverages speed up the alcohol absorption process, causing your BAC to rise more quickly.
- Family History - If a family member has experienced a substance use disorder, it increases the likelihood that you will also experience it.
- Medication - Some medications can amplify the effects of alcohol on your body. Always talk to your doctor if you plan to drink while taking prescribed medication.
How can I choose to be Party Positive?
Moderation is the key to optimizing positive social outcomes. For example, keeping your blood alcohol concentration at, or below, .06 will help you have positive and productive social interactions. Once you feel relaxed and are having fun, you can then pace to maintain your cognitive and physical abilities.
Research indicates the probability of negative outcomes increase quickly as BAC rises above .06 and then increase exponentially at blood alcohol levels rise above .10. The only way to estimate your blood alcohol concentration is to track and calculate standard drinks.
Choose your values, by only drinking what and the amount that is right for you.
Choose not to drink on some occasions when others do.
Choose to drink when it is legal for you.
Drinking on an empty stomach will cause your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to spike quickly, increasing the likelihood of blackout, vomiting, and passing out.
Eat a meal 20 to 30 minutes before drinking.
Snack throughout the evening.
To track your consumption, you need to know exactly how much you drink by calculating standard drinks.
- Set a drink limit that reduces or eliminates negative outcomes.
- Track number of drinks.
How to Calculate a Standard Drink
- You take the quantity (in ounces)
- Then multiply the number of ounces by the "Percent Alcohol by Volume" (%ABV)
- Next, divide that number by 0.6 to get the amount of standard drinks in the drink you are considering
For example: For a Bud Light Platinum, we would multiply 12 ounce by .06 (6% ABV) and then divide that by 0.6 to get 1.2 standard drinks. So there's just a little over one standard drink in a Bud Light Platinum.
Pacing reduces negative social outcomes and helps you maintain your social skills throughout the evening.
Limit or eliminate activities that result in drinking quickly.
Keep it social by pacing standard drinks to one per hour.
Know your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and keep your BAC to .06 or less (the Positive Drinking Zone).
Drinking causes dehydration, reducing energy levels and making you feel tired, and increasing the severity of your hangover.
Drink at least 24 oz. of water before you start drinking.
Drink 6 to 12 oz. of water or another non-alcoholic beverage after each alcoholic beverage.
A substance-free driver is the only safe ride. Impairment starts with the first drink.
Have a plan for getting home safely.
Don't drive after drinking.
Never ride with someone who has been drinking or using other substances
Party Positive surveyed students on their drinking habits. Here's what they learned.
- 56% of students choose to drink less than once a week or not at all
- 73% of students who drink choose not to ride with someone who has been drinking
- 67% of students who drink eat before and/or while drinking
- 89% of students who drink hydrate before and/or while drinking
- 60% of students pace their consumption while drinking alcohol
How to Help a Friend
Be a Prosocial Bystander
A prosocial bystander is an individual who intervenes to positively impact a harmful or potentially harmful situation. We like to emphasize that as a bystander, the choice is ours about whether to intervene, and how. In order to create a safer community for us all, we need more folks to feel empowered and able to make the choice to intervene and at least check in on a friend or fellow Hokie.
Strategies to intervene include:
Direct: Speaking directly to someone or doing something that personally addresses the situation you are concerned about.
Distract: Changing the focus of the situation, changing the subject, creating a diversion, etc.
Delegate: When you don’t feel confident intervening, need a different or more qualified person to step in, or you need strength in numbers.
Warning Signs of Alcohol Poisoning
Respiration is less than 8 breaths per minute (typical rate is 12-18 breaths per minute)
Breathing is irregular
No pain response; no response to a shoulder pinch
Unconsciousness; if you cannot wake the person up
Vomiting while asleep, unconscious, or repeatedly
Sometimes it doesn't feel abnormal for someone to throw up during or after drinking, but even if they aren't exhibiting some of these other signs, vomiting is an early warning that our body is giving us that says "no more".
IF ANY of these exist, seek medical help immediately.
After you call 911, place them in the recovery position and stay by their side until help arrives.
If you do not think they are in immediate danger, put them in the position but do not leave them alone. Their BAC could still be rising. Continue to monitor them until they sober up. You can always call Poison Control for advice, but for immediate assistance call 911.
If you notice things are going downhill fast, and you have a bad feeling, it is never a bad thing to call 911. People can still be walking around and have alcohol poisoning; they don’t just have to be passed out. Check in to see if they are coherently responsive to you and their surroundings! You don’t have to wait until someone is not breathing to get help.
"Good Samaritan" Policy
Virginia Tech does not want students to feel as though they are choosing between conduct consequences and seeking help. If medical assistance is sought, Student Conduct will not pursue conduct charges against the individual or organization who sought assistance, or the individual in need of assistance.
Read the full “Good Samaritan” policy, including exceptions, in your Student Code of Conduct.
Concerned for a Friend
It’s not always easy to see when drinking has crossed the line from moderate or social use to problem drinking, but if you are concerned about your friend’s or partner’s drinking patterns, it can be really important that you have a conversation with them.
Do I worry about how much they drink?
Am I embarrassed or hurt by their behavior after they drink?
Do I make excuses for this behavior to our friends or others?
Am I afraid to upset them?
Has the personal safety of myself, partner, or other friends been threatened when they drink?
Does their night of drinking negatively impact my night out?
If you have answered YES to any of these questions, it could be time to talk with them and express your concerns. It can be really difficult to talk to a friend or partner about their drinking habits, so try these strategies for the next time you want to start the conversation.
Be clear that you care “I’ve noticed some changes in you. Is everything okay?”
Stick to the facts “The last time I was with you, you drank so much you passed out.”
Express how you feel “I was really worried about you last night when you didn’t come home after drinking.”
Avoid name calling, lectures, and verbal attacks.
Keep your mind open to your friend’s perspective and approach the conversation with empathy.
Do not continue your conversation if you become impatient or angry.
It is important that you set limits on what you will do with or for your friend or partner. Let them know what your limits are and stick to them. For example, you may decide not to socialize with them while they drink alcohol. You may decide not to allow alcohol in your room or apartment. Limits, and sticking to them, are important particularly if they deny they have a problem. Remember that you cannot control their choices or behaviors.
Substance Use Support
If you or someone you know is concerned about your/their alcohol use, complete this brief anonymous ScreenU assessment to receive personalized feedback related to your/their substance use.
Virginia Tech believes that decisions concerning alcohol consumption are a personal choice, and that students should make informed alcohol use decisions. While we believe that decisions concerning alcohol consumption are a personal choice, we encourage students to make legal and low-risk decisions concerning their alcohol use decisions. To learn more about our philosophy and policies, click the button below.