As October comes to a close and just over six weeks of classes remain in the semester, I'm reaching out to briefly discuss two important issues. I respectfully ask that you take a moment to read what follows.
This email includes information on Halloween safety, particularly around alcohol.
I recognize that most students do not engage in hazardous drinking. Those who do place their own health and safety at risk, and also impact their friends around them. Each year at this time, we see an increase in alcohol consumption and the often serious consequences that follow.
Ninety-four percent (94%) of UVA students intervene when they notice a problem situation, and I am grateful that so many of you understand the importance of being an active bystander, calling 911, or seeking other assistance when you see someone at risk.
Below are resources and tips provided by your peers on the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team (ADAPT) and my colleagues at Student Health.
- Always carry a photo ID and a fully charged cellphone. Make thoughtful choices in selecting a costume. Be sensitive to how others may perceive your costume.
- Some people with harmful intentions may take advantage of being unrecognizable in a Halloween costume. Stay in an environment where you can easily get help or move away from someone who is threatening your safety. Be aware of your surroundings.
- Avoid wearing a costume that does not allow you to see and move freely. Be sure decorations are nonflammable (and use flameless candles).
- Utilize all safety resources, such as Safe Ride and the UVA/Ambassadors, who provide security in areas near the Corner.
I hope you will avoid alcohol if you are under the legal age to drink. Even if you are of legal age, use of alcohol may pose serious safety risks. If you do choose to drink, several simple precautions can minimize risks to yourself and others.
- Pace and Space: Sip your drink instead of chugging, alternate with water or soda, and have no more than 1 drink per hour. On average, it takes nearly 3 hours for most people to eliminate the alcohol in 2 standard drinks.
- Eat before and while drinking: Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream more slowly when there is food (especially protein) in your stomach.
- Avoid mixing alcohol with other drugs: Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs (antihistamines and sedatives, for example) can increase alcohol's effects. Caffeine and other stimulants can trick you into feeling less impaired.
- Use caution when sick or tired: When you're sleep-deprived or ill, alcohol enters the body more quickly.
- Be aware of your environment: Situational tolerance develops when a person consistently drinks the same type of alcohol or in the same location. Changing location or beverage type can cause greater impairment.
- Avoid "punches" and other drinks you did not make yourself. Punches often include high-concentration alcohol masked by a sweet taste. You should only drink what you mixed yourself or from a container you opened.
- Stay in a group in which at least one person remains sober and make sure no one is left behind.
- Consider using a smartphone app to enable you to quickly alert friends to your location and need for assistance.
- Look out for your friends who are drinking.
- Use"PUBS" as a guide to the symptoms of alcohol overdose:
- Puking while passed out
- Unresponsive to stimulation (pinch or shaking)
- Breathing (slow, shallow, or no breathing)
- Skin (blue, cold, or clammy)
- If you see even one sign of alcohol overdose,call 911. If you are unsure, call the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for confidential, expert advice.
- Students will not face University disciplinary action for seeking medical help involving alcohol, and there is no charge for the rescue squad.
- Concerned about your substance use? Hoos in Recovery can help. This group meets weekly to share a meal, has frequent socials, and provides support for students in recovery or interested in living sober.
I hope you have a fun and safe Halloween. Following these simple safety tips will help ensure that occurs.
Allen W. Groves
University Dean of Students
* From the February 2017 Health Survey with responses from 1,010 UVA students