Written by Sheila Wylie.
As we get closer to summer break (YES!!!) we can all look forward to warmer weather and spending time with friends. There are barbecues and parties to enjoy and sun to soak up. Summer is also a time when drinking is happening all around us. Some of you might be drinking or might feel pressured to drink.
So, let’s talk about drinking.
We do not endorse drinking alcohol if you are under the legal age of 21. But if you do choose to drink, please do so safely. Never accept drinks from strangers- you don’t know how strong they may be or if there is something other than alcohol mixed in. Avoid binge drinking, defined as 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men in one sitting. These drinking habits increase risk for serious injury, addiction, alcohol abuse, alcohol poisoning, and death. Be sure to space out your drinks and drink water in between. Heavy drinking before age 21 can seriously impair brain development and cause lifetime damage to your brain, liver, stomach, and heart.
Drinking can affect your mental and emotional health as well. Monitor how alcohol makes you feel and act; if you tend to get very emotional (angry, aggressive, sad) or if you have a difficult time controlling your behavior and your drinking please talk to a professional. These can be signs of a serious problem developing, and the sooner you get help the healthier you will be.
It’s important to only drink in an environment that you feel safe in, with people you trust. Not only will this make you feel more comfortable, but in the case that something bad happens you know someone will have your back. If you see someone who is too drunk to get themselves home safely, or if they are being messed with while they are heavily intoxicated or passed out- help them!
Know the signs of alcohol poisoning and call 911 if necessary- you can always call anonymously. Signs include passing out, irregular or slow breathing (less than eight breaths per minute), and vomiting.
And it is so important not to drink and drive. If you choose to drink, have a backup plan for getting home. Call a taxi, Uber, or Lyft. Call a friend. Even call your mom- it’s better than dying in a crash. Or have a friend be a designated driver.
If you choose not to drink, there are ways to avoid it if offered a drink. Being honest is great and might give someone else the chance to choose not to drink. You can always say that you don’t like to drink- people who actually care about you will let you make your own decisions. If honesty doesn’t seem to be the right choice, you can always tell someone that you can’t drink because of parents or a next-day obligation like a test or big game.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to stand up and help someone else. It might seem completely fine to post photos or laugh at someone who drank too much, but these situations can escalate into something very serious. You never know if you or someone you love will be in that position- have respect for your peers and treat them how you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes. Have a safe and fun summer!