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College is often referred to as the “best four years of your life.” The college experience includes going to class and making the grade, as well as going out and meeting new people. Alcohol may at times be part of this experience. 1 out of 5 UW students have never used alcohol. That’s about 1,894 of your peers! This section includes alcohol and other drug basics as well as AOD related resources specifically designed for students within the UW community.
*All UW specific data is from the Spring 2021 ACHA-NCHA III Survey.
For additional resources, please visit WY We Talk.
A standard drink is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as containing roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in:
12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol.
8-9 fl oz of malt liquor (this includes craft beers, lagers, and ales), which all have about 7% alcohol.
5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol.
1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol.
What is a standard drink? Each beverage portrayed above represents one standard drink
(or one alcohol drink equivalent), defined in the United States as any beverage containing
.6 fl oz or 14 grams of pure alcohol. The percentage of pure alcohol, expressed here
as alcohol by volume (alc/vol), varies within and across beverage types. Although
the standard drink amounts are helpful for following health guidelines, they may not
reflect customary serving sizes. The standard drinks shown are: 12 fl oz of regular
beer (5% alcohol), 8-9 fl oz of malt liquor (7% alcohol), 5 fl oz of table wine (12%
alcohol), 1.5 fl oz shot of distilled spirits (40% alcohol).
Our bodies can only process about 1 standard drink of alcohol per hour. Each standard drink that you consume raises your blood alcohol content (BAC) by approximately .02%. Consuming too much too quickly can result in higher risk for experiencing alcohol-related harm and consequences.
High-risk drinking, also known as, “binge drinking,” is defined by the NIAAA as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent. For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming 5 or more drinks (male), or 4 or more drinks (female), in about 2 hours.
88% of UW students drink responsibly. What does this mean? The majority of UW students do not binge drink, instead, if they choose to drink at all, they stay within their limits, pace their drinks, keep their BAC below .06%, and experience minimal consequences related to alcohol.
BAC is the concentration of alcohol in one’s blood. Several factors can affect BAC, and no two people will be affected in the same way by alcohol.
Factors that impact BAC:
Number of standard drinks
Amount of time in which drinks are consumed
Sex assigned at birth and corresponding hormone levels
*The only thing that lowers BAC is TIME*
The graph below shows the physical impact that BAC has on your body. When an individual passes a 0.06 BAC level, negative effects begin. As BAC raises to 0.08 or higher cognitive impairments, nausea, and impaired motor coordination may begin.
At .02 BAC body is relaxed, and it is illegal to operate a vehicle if under age 21. At .06 BAC a buzz develops. At .08 BAC cognitive judgement is impaired along with nausea and impaired motor coordination, at this point it is illegal to operate a vehicle age 21 or older. Between .10 and .15 BAC there is a clear deterioration in cognitive judgement and motor coordination. Between .15 and .25 blackouts can occur. Between .25 and .35 individuals may pass out, lose consciousness, and risk death. Above .40 BAC is a lethal dose in most cases.
Use the resources below to calculate approximate blood alcohol concentration.
Consuming alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal. If you choose to drink alcohol there
are many ways to reduce risk and minimize negative consequences. One strategy is to
avoid driving under the influence. About 93% of UW students do not drive under the
influence of alcohol or cannabis. Instead, they use safe alternatives or stay where
Here are some more safety, or low-risk, strategies:
Keep track of the number of drinks that you consume
Eat before and during drinking
Alternate alcoholic drinks with water
Know what’s in your drink
Plan your night out
Stick to one type of alcohol
Stay with the same group of friends the entire time
Avoid shots and drinking games
Respect a person’s decision not to drink
The biphasic effect is used to describe how alcohol can act as both a stimulant at low levels, but is classified as a depressant. At low levels there are positive effects to alcohol, however, if you drink too much, past .06, the effects of alcohol become negative, making its effect biphasic.
What do you enjoy about drinking? What are the positives of drinking? People wouldn’t
drink if there weren’t positives!
These positives, such as a buzz, feeling comfortable talking to others, or feeling more relaxed come between a .01 and .06 BAC. Past a .06 BAC, the positive effects of alcohol deplete and the negative effects take over.
Tolerance is the degree to which the body has adapted to a given blood alcohol level. Meaning that it will take longer for one to experience the positive effects of drinking, however negative effects will still start after the .06 threshold (meaning there is less time to enjoy the positives of drinking). The more one drinks to impairment, the higher their tolerance will become. A high alcohol tolerance is dangerous for many reasons. Those who drink but do not appear drunk may be more inclined to engage in activities they normally wouldn’t, giving them a false assumption of safety. Heavy drinking can lead to increased health risks related to use and can lead to substance abuse and addiction.
Source: Red Watch Band curriculum
When an individual has consumed excessive amounts of alcohol, they are at risk for alcohol poisoning. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system which causes a suppression of breathing, heart rate, and the gag reflex. Fatal doses of alcohol will eventually stop these functions.
Symptoms of alcohol poisoning:
Mental confusion, stupor, coma or person cannot be roused
Slow/irregular breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute)
Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness
*If one of these symptoms is present: cannot be roused, slow/irregular breathing, cold/bluish skin or lips, seizures, CALL 911
Call 911 (or UWYO Police at (307) 766-5179 if on campus)
Stay with the person until help arrives
Get help from an RA
If breathing stops, perform CPR or find someone who knows how
Turn person onto their side in the “recovery position”
hesitate to call 911
leave the person alone
try to give the person anything to eat or drink
put the person in a cold shower
just let them “sleep it off.”
Myth: Coffee helps you to sober up.
Fact: The only factor that reduces intoxication is TIME. Since caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, it can be a dangerous combination as it can mask the effects of alcohol and can cause heart complications (this is why it is not suggested to mix alcohol with energy drinks).
Myth: A cold shower helps you to sober up.
Fact: Cold water will shock the system, but lowers one’s body temperature even more which could get dangerous because drinking already lowers body temperature.
Myth: Someone who’s been drinking just needs to “sleep it off”.
Fact: More alcohol may be in the stomach waiting to be absorbed- absorption still happens after someone passes out.
Myth: If I eat before I drink, I won’t get drunk.
Fact: Food does not prevent or speed up the process of alcohol being absorbed in the body.
Myth: Beer and wine are safer than liquor.
Fact: The alcohol content of a drink is what makes you drunk, not the type of alcohol.
About 150 UW students are in recovery from alcohol or other drug use.
The Collegiate Recovery Program at the University of Wyoming (CRP-UW) is built on the recognition that a commitment to the mission of alcohol/drug education, sober events, and sober lifestyles can be a positive impact on many students at University of Wyoming. CRP-UW aims to provide regular activities to engage in sober activities and participate actively in the community. A space is dedicated to those in recovery, thinking about recovery, and as well as those who support others in their recovery journey in Knight Hall Room 037.
More resources to help a friend:
Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is the most commonly used “illicit” drug in the United States. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) defines marijuana as, “a mind-altering (psychoactive) drug, produced by the Cannabis sativa plant. Marijuana has over 480 constituents. THC (delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is believed to be the main ingredient that produces the psychoactive effect”. Over half (58%) of UW students have never used cannabis.
There are short and long-term health effects associated with marijuana use such as:
• Relaxation, disinhibition, increased appetite, sedation, increased sociability
• Effects on memory and learning
• Difficulty in thinking and problem-solving
• Impaired judgment, reduced coordination
• Distorted perception
• Decreased blood pressure, increased heart rate, dizziness, nausea, tachycardia
• Confusion, anxiety, paranoia, drowsiness
• Respiratory ailments
• Breathing problems (chronic cough, bronchitis, and emphysema)
Cannabis is illegal to use and possess in the state of Wyoming.
Consider these strategies to reduce your risk of negative outcomes if you do choose to use cannabis:
Don’t mix with alcohol or any other substance
Avoid sharing joints or bongs
Use only in a safe place
Choose lower THC products
Don’t use synthetics
Avoid deep inhalation if smoking
Buy less so you use less
Avoid use the day or night before an important or new challenge
Avoid driving at least 6 hours after smoking, longer after edibles
Do not vape cannabis
Do not use where cannabis is illegal
Avoid self-medicating with cannabis
Purchase only through an authorized dispensary
Choose not to use
Avoid use if you are pregnant
Nicotine is the primary agent in both regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes/vape products, and is highly addictive. Though 3 out of 5 UW students have never used tobacco or nicotine products, the popularity of e-cigarettes has risen in recent years especially among young adults. Scientists are still learning about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes. However, nicotine can affect parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control. Some ingredients in e-cigarette aerosol may also be harmful to the heart and lungs long term.
Quitting smoking can improve health and reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and other smoking-related illnesses. Please use these resources to start your quitting journey today:
Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that the average age for the initiation of prescription drug misuse falls within the traditional college student years. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.
ADHD medications such as Adderall and Ritalin are psychostimulants that college students misuse to stay awake and concentrate when studying for tests or finishing homework. What students don’t realize is that possession of Adderall without a prescription is illegal.
Psychostimulant abuse is linked to side effects such as:
Increased blood pressure
Diarrhea or constipation
Commonly misused prescription drugs also include opioids such as Vicodin and OxyContin, and sedatives such as Xanax and Valium. Research supports that the nonmedical use of prescription drugs negatively impacts academic success. Students who abuse prescription medications are more prone to study less, skip class more, and earn lower grades.
These drugs are highly addictive and have been linked to other serious health side effects such as:
• Respiratory depression
• Nausea and vomiting
• Liver damage
• Brain damage due to hypoxia, resulting from respiratory depression
• Development of tolerance
Opioids and other prescription drugs can be taken safely if prescribed and used as directed by a doctor. However, many prescription medications can have fatal effects when mixed in wrong combinations or misused. It is important to talk with your doctor about all of the medications that you take to ensure your own safety.
You should never share your medication with friends and family. Medications are prescribed with you and only you in mind. Use by others can have serious and even deadly side effects.
Prescription drugs can be safely disposed at a local drug drop box location.
Laramie Drug Drop Box:
Albany County Detention Center (Front Entrance)
420 Ivinson Ave Laramie, WY 82070
UW Police Department: 307-766-5179
SafeRide: 307-766-7433 | SafeRide is an on-call public transportation service that operates late nights on the weekends to offer nonjudgmental "safe" rides home.
AWARE: 307-766-2187 | The role of AWARE is to provide students with accurate information regarding substance use and the skills necessary to reduce or eliminate harm.
HOPES: 307-766-6776 | The HOPES Program promotes the message of personal wellness via guidance, education, research, and collaboration focused on healthy choices about the use of alcohol and other drugs.
Psychology Center: 307-766-2149 | The mission of The Psychology Center is to provide affordable, quality mental health care to the campus community and area residents.
University Counseling Center: 307-766-2187 | The UCC provides comprehensive, time-effective mental health services to university students.
WellSpring Counseling Clinic: 307-766-6820 | WellSpring Counseling offers FREE and confidential counseling services for individuals, couples, families, adults, adolescents, and children. Substance Abuse Evaluations (ASI) are also available at a low cost.
For more resources, check out the Wellness Center Resources page.
Student Code of Conduct (Page 10)
Healthy Poke Patrol (HPP) is an initiative developed by the AWARE and HOPES programs with the intention to promote healthy, smart, and safe decisions at the University of Wyoming. Before University of Wyoming football games, Wellness Center staff and Wellness Ambassadors ask students, “how are you going to be safe today?” Students give a variety of answers from having a planned ride home to staying with friends throughout the game. After a student answers the question, they get to head to the game with new brown or gold beads.
The goal of this program is to get students to stick to a safe and healthy plan on game day. People are more likely to follow through with something they have said aloud and to another person. Asking students this question and having them answer is helpful to get students thinking ahead about a plan, and sticking to that plan.
If you would like to become involved with Healthy Poke Patrol, visit the Wellness Ambassadors page to learn more.