Alcohol & Alcohol Poisoning

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Alcohol and alcohol poisoning adhere to separate scenarios, questions, and resources. These same principles also apply to other substance abuse situations. Follow a link below or scroll down for all information:



Learn more about alcohol bystander intervention:

Know Your Numbers!

A standard drink equals one 12-ounce beer, one 6-ounce malt beer/liquor, one 4- to 5-ounce glass of table wine, or 1.5-ounce of 80 proof alcohol.
View Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Charts (Men)>>

View Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Charts (Women)>>

Scenario: Alcohol

Some upperclassmen are hosting a party. Some freshmen have confided in you that they don’t drink and aren’t huge “partiers” but since it’s their teammates and they want to make a good impression, they are going to go. 
You are there and everyone seems to be having a good time until one of the seniors suggests a drinking game. You know the danger of consuming alcohol quickly and are concerned. Teammates start to gather around a table as one of them begins to explain the rules for the drinking game. The freshmen who had confided in you initially decline but others start hassling them. You can see they’re uncomfortable. They look at you. What do you do?

Questions: Alcohol

  1. For those that drink, what determines how much, or if, you will drink? Do you drink more when you are really happy/excited or sad/upset, or because you think it will make a good time even better?
  2. Does your team have rules about alcohol? Do you have rules amongst yourselves during the season? Do you personally make the choice to not drink during the season? Why or why not?
  3. Do team rules or codes of conduct curb behavior? What does?
  4. For those who drink, do you feel anxiety around those who don’t and vice versa?
  5. Discuss the “pull” between choices you sometimes have to make around alcohol?
  6. How can drinking games get out of control considering how competitive student-athletes are? What are some things you could do to diminish this?

Considerations: Alcohol

One drink = 12-ounce beer = 4 ounces of table wine = 1.5 ounce of 80-proof liquor

Alcohol Use

  • Cancels out gains from your workout
  • Causes dehydration and slows down the body’s ability to heal
  • Prevents muscle recovery
  • Depletes your source of energy
  • Hampers memory, retention and ability to learn new information
    • Drinking 5 or more alcoholic beverages can affect brain and body activities for up to 3 days
    • 2 consecutive nights of drinking 5 or more alcoholic beverages can affect brain and body activities for up to 5 days
  • Constricts metabolism and endurance
  • Requires increased conditioning to maintain weight
  • Inhibits absorption of nutrients (Firth, G. & Manzo, L. 2004)

Other Considerations

  • A person drinking too much can have second hand effects for others:
    • Study/sleep time disrupted by other students’ alcohol abuse
    • Violence from alcohol related physical and sexual assaults
    • Campus environment negatively affected by vandalism
    • Insults, arguments, and threats instigated by intoxicated students
  • BAC is affected by the pace of drinking, quantity consumed, food in stomach, altitude, fatigue, gender, medications, mood and body mass
  • Binge drinking is particularly unsafe. The normal “buzz” is not felt – it goes straight to extreme symptoms

Considerations for Women

  • Women have different health concerns around the consumption of alcohol than do men. Women should drink less than men (given the same weight) due to a number of factors including:
    • Different rates of metabolism
    • Lower levels of the enzyme dehydrogenase that breaks down alcohol in the stomach
    • Higher percentage of body fat and less body water
    • Alcohol absorption rates are affected by changes in estrogen levels related to the menstrual cycle
  • Health problems related to drinking develop more quickly for women than men,
    including alcoholism
  • Women who drink more than one alcoholic beverage per day increase their risk for breast cancer

Did you know…?

  • Alcohol leaves the system at .015 percent per hour. If your BAC is .20 at 1:00 a.m. it will not return to normal until 3:00 p.m. the next day. Think of how that might affect you for a test, practice or a game.
  • The body treats alcohol as fat!
  • The normal reaction to alcohol is biphasic. The first phase occurs while BAC is low – mild “buzz”. The “point of diminishing returns” (where the effects become negative) happens at or above .06 for non-tolerant drinkers — including fatigue and physical impairment. More is NOT better!
  • Every person’s predisposition to alcoholism/addiction is different.
  • Student-athletes reported that 85% of the time a negative situation from drinking too much could have been avoided if someone had intervened.

Action Steps: Alcohol


  1. Plan ahead – set a limit BEFORE going out.
  2. Encourage them to stop drinking (or take their drink away) when they’ve had enough.
  3. Stay with them to ensure they will be all right.
  4. Remove them from the situation.
  5. Get them to consume non-alcoholic beverages first.
  6. Get them to alternate between non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks.
  7. Get them to sip rather than gulp if they are drinking alcohol.
  8. Have them consume food while drinking alcoholic beverages.
  9. Tell them not to drink while taking medication.
  10. Tell them to avoid taking aspirin if they have been drinking. (DO NOT take Tylenol or other Acetaminophen medication for a hangover; liver damage may result!)
  11. Never discuss problematic behavior when the person is under the influence.

Note: Responsible party hosting includes providing non-alcoholic beverages, serving food, limiting focus on drinking by not allowing drinking games or serving alcoholic punches, refraining from pushing alcoholic drinks, and limiting quantity of alcohol available.

Resources: Alcohol


  • Lehigh Counseling & Pysch Center
  • Lehigh Health & Wellness Center


Alcohol Poisoning 

Learn more about alcohol poisoning bystander intervention:

Scenario: Alcohol Poisoning

You are at a party when someone runs up to you and screams for you to come to a room because your teammate is not breathing. You go to the room and there are lots of empty alcohol bottles and cups around. The other student is hysterical about the passed-out individual drinking too much at the party.
You see that the person’s breathing is irregular and the person is cold and clammy. What do you do?

Questions: Alcohol Poisoning

  1. 94% of student-athletes report that they have seen someone whose health or safety was in danger from drinking too much. What has your experience been?
  2. What do you need to know to be helpful in this type of situation?
  3. How does this affect the athletic community?
  4. What could you do to have fun without drinking or with minimal drinking?

Considerations and Warning Signs: Alcohol Poisoning

  • Person is unconscious or semiconscious
  • Person has cold, clammy, pale or bluish skin
  • Slow breathing (less than 8 breaths per minute)
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • No response to pinching the skin
  • Vomiting while passed out, and not waking after vomiting seizures

Did you know…?

The number of deaths from alcohol poisoning of college-age people in 2005 was almost double what it was six years before. Most deaths occurred on weekends. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 2008)

Action Steps: Alcohol Poisoning


  1. Check in with anyone who is showing signs of possible alcohol poisoning.
  2. If you notice someone passed out, vomiting, incoherent, unable to answer simple
    questions, call 9-1-1 immediately.
  3. If they are passed out roll them to their side.
  4. Eliminate distractions – loud music, etc.
  5. Be clear and direct with all of your requests.
  6. Try to find someone who is sober and can answer questions about the individual.
  7. Do not leave the person alone.
  8. If vomiting occurs, clear airway by sweeping out vomited material from mouth.
  9. Do not give food or force fluids.
  10. If affected person is able to verbally respond, determine if the victim:
    a.  has allergies
    b.  is on medications
    c.  has any health conditions
  11. Monitor breathing and heart rate. If breathing and heart rate cease, begin CPR.
  12. Be ready to tell the EMT what and how much the person has had to drink, presence of other drugs, how long it has been since symptoms occurred, and other relevant information.

Resources: Alcohol Poisoning


  • 9-1-1
  • Lehigh Counseling & Pysch Center
  • Lehigh Health & Wellness Center
  • Campus Police Department
  • Gryphon if in the dorms