Students walking in the UHC lobby, University Health Center, University of Georgia
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Managing Stress: A Guide for College Students


Alcohol & Other Drugs


MYTHS
Alcohol and other drugs (AOD) are sometimes thought to reduce stress. Have you ever heard that they are "an outlet" or "an escape from reality?" The reality is that AOD can create more stress. How? Alcohol and other drugs can cause health, impairment and legal problems that can create a more stressful reality.

BECAUSE OF ALCOHOL OR OTHER DRUGS, HAVE YOU EVER..
.. missed a class, been arrested, thrown up, had a hangover, gotten in trouble, had alcohol poisoning, performed poorly on an assignment or test, gotten into a fight, been hurt or injured, driven under the influence and/or had memory loss? If you said yes to any of these, did the situation increase or decrease the amount of stress if your life?

BUT I HAVE A HIGH TOLERANCE AND CAN "HANDLE IT"!
Tolerance does not offset impairment; it just delays it. Mental impairment can even occur without one realizing it's happening, even with a high tolerance. It gives a false sense of security, putting individuals at higher risk for accidents and other problems. Anyone who drinks to the level of impairment is at risk for a multitude of problems. These problems range from relationship issues, decrease in performance levels, reduction in abstract mental functioning, cumulative organ damage, increased occurrence of non-stranger rape, unplanned and unprotected sex, legal problems, automobile crashes, alcoholism and early death.

HOW TO REDUCE IMPAIRMENT, HEALTH AND LEGAL PROBLEMS AND THE STRESS THEY MAY CAUSE
The John Fontaine, Jr. Center for Alcohol Awareness and Education has adopted the 0-1-3 Low-risk Guideline for making low risk choices. If a person wants to reduce the risk of impairment, health and legal problems, they should follow this guideline.
    · ZERO - Zero Alcohol: Especially if you are sick, using medications or other drugs, pregnant, under 21, chemically dependent, driving, or have a strong family history of alcoholism
    · ONE - One Drink Per Hour: Your body can only metabolize one average drink per hour.
    · NO MORE THAN THREE DRINKS ON ANY DAY AND NEVER THREE DRINKS DAILY: An average drink is 1oz of 100 proof liquor, a 12 oz beer, or a 4-5 oz glass of wine. It is always okay not to drink. If you do choose to drink, make healthy choices and follow 0-1-3.

THERE ARE NO GUIDELINES FOR REDUCING RISKS OF USING OTHER DRUGS
A standard dose of any drug is impairing and therefore impairment problems can occur with any drug use. In addition, the strength and purity of other drugs are never known. This means we do not know if the drug is very strong or if other drugs or chemicals have been mixed in with the drug.

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
Prescription drugs used without a prescription or not used as prescribed can cause serious health problems. If using Adderall and Ritalin, for example, liver damage may occur if not monitored by a physician. Abusing them can cause heart palpitations, anxiety, headaches, change blood pressure and other health related issues.

CHECKING IN ON YOUR ALCOHOL USE
What is healthy alcohol use? What is unhealthy alcohol use? Everyone is different; however, there has been much research on the health and impairment risks of use. The 0-1-3 guideline is a great baseline for ensuring that a person does not have problems. It is most important, however, to know exactly how much alcohol you are using to make sure it does not continue to increase.
Download a worksheet to assess your current alcohol use.

WHAT IS YOUR GOAL IN REDUCING YOUR ALCOHOL USE?
Consider the following questions.

______ Maximum number of drinking occasions per week

______ Maximum number of drinks per occasion

What are the barriers to achieving this goal?

How do you overcome these barriers?

Who will support you achieving your goal?

References and Resources