Flashback Friday: How to be social without drinking

This blog post was originally published on September 24, 2015.

Feel like social life revolves around drinking?


Here are 10 alcohol-free ways to have fun in the Triangle.
(TIP: Always ask about a student discount!)

  1.  Host or attend a game night FREE
  2. Join an intramural sports team FREE
  3. Group outing to the theatre! FREE-$$$
  4. Go ice skating or bowling $$
  5. Join a student organization FREE
  6. Check out a local farmer’s market over the weekend FREE
  7. Attend local community events FREE-$$$
  8. Check out student group performances (search category: performance) FREE-$
  9. Learn a new dance/go out dancing (all types of dancing) FREE-$
  10. Watch an outdoor movie or a CUAB movie (seasonal) FREE-$
“Movies Under the Stars” in Downtown Chapel HIll

Or, maybe you want to go to parties and just not drink!

Have you ever been out trying to have some alcohol-free fun, and people won’t stop  bugging you? Here are some ideas of things to say, but they are dependent on your personality type, individual needs, or safety/comfort concerns!

  1. “I’m not drinking tonight, but thank you!”
  2. “I’m good for now, I just had one.”
  3. “I’m taking it easy tonight.”
  4. “I have to wake up early tomorrow/study, etc.”
  5. “I’m driving home tonight.”
  6. “I’m the designated driver tonight.”
  7. “I’m just trying to be a bit healthier right now.”

Not a talker? No worries! There are other ways to ward off peer pressure, again – dependent on your personality type, individual needs, or safety/comfort concerns. For example, some people have suggested holding a drink in their hand and not actually drinking, drinking alcohol-free drinks (like a rum and coke….minus the rum), or attending a party as a sober attendee and playing the games either with water or an alcohol-free drink!

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: How to Help an Intoxicated Friend

This blog post was originally posted on March 5, 2013 and was written by Natalie Rich. 

Next week is Spring Break. Maybe you and your friends have plans to relax under palm trees in a sunny tropical location. Maybe you are going home to reunite with all your buddies from high school. Maybe you are sticking around Chapel Hill. Whether your Spring Break plans involve productivity or partying, you may be in a situation with people who are intoxicated. So, here are some tips on how to be the best friend/bystander to someone who has had a bit too much…

1.       Telling people they’ve had too much

It helps to have a conversation with friends beforehand to get an idea of what is too much for them or signs that it’s time to switch to water. That will make it easier to broach the subject later on in the night. If you haven’t talked to your friend beforehand, you can still talk to him in the moment. Offer him a cup of water or simply suggest going home. If your friend is just gearing up to have a good time and wants to keep drinking, try getting support from others to intervene. You don’t want to gang up on him, but having multiple people suggest that he slow down or take it easy on the shots may help.

If you are worried about a friend’s drinking, here is some information on how to have that conversation with him/her

2.       Taking keys away from someone

car-keys-use-this-oneThe easiest way to help people avoid drinking and driving is to establish a plan at the beginning of the night. If you are hosting, collect keys as people come in the door and keep numbers for cab companies handy. If going to a party, agree on a DD or take a cab to and from the party. You may find yourself in a situation where a friend insists on driving after she has been drinking. She may think she is fine to drive, but even small amounts of alcohol can impact decision-making and driving ability. Plus, the legal limit for driving if you are under 21 is 0.00 (0.08 for 21 and up) which means any amount of alcohol puts her at risk for DUI. When a friend insists she is fine to drive, it can be tricky to convince her she is not. Again, getting support from others might help. Call a cab for your friend or offer to drive her home if you are sober or ask a DD at the party to drive her home. Remove as many barriers as possible, so that it becomes easier for her to choose getting a ride home rather than driving.

3.       Know what alcohol poisoning looks like and know what to do.

If your friend is experiencing any of these signs, it may be alcohol poisoning:

  • Throwing up
  • Passed out and cannot be woken up
  • Incoherent speech
  • Shallow breathing
  • Pale, bluish, or clammy skin

If you suspect alcohol poisoning, here’s what to do:

  • Call 911
  • Stay with the person or have someone (not intoxicated) stay with the person
  • Try to wake up the person
  • If lying down, keep them lying on their side (to reduce risk of choking on vomit)


  • Campus police—962 8100
  • After hours Healthlink (to speak to a nurse after hours)—962 2281
  • UNC ER—966 4721

For more detailed info on how to help an intoxicated friend who may have alcohol poisoning, check out this great post on Go Ask Alice.

4.       Take care of yourself when the people around you are intoxicated. 

stock-footage-happy-young-student-studying-at-home-and-smiling-is-joyfulNo matter what kind of situation you find yourself in, don’t forget to take care of yourself first. That means leaving a party that’s getting out of control to avoid legal risk. That means telling your suitemates to keep it down so that you can go to sleep. And it means listening to your gut. If you get a bad vibe from a party, tell your friends and suggest an alternative. If you don’t feel like going out, then take a night to yourself and stay in. Being a good friend is not just about taking care of others; it’s about knowing how to take care of yourself too.

What’s Coffee with a Cop…?

Have a question about campus or local laws? Want the inside scoop on how to avoid getting a citation?

Come to Coffee with a Cop!

May 28, 2014

Women’s Hospital Conference Room 4

8:30 AM – 10:00 AM

I attended Coffee with a Cop a few months ago with a list of questions from students and coffee with a copstaff around UNC’s policy on marijuana possession and probable cause for searching residence hall rooms. Not only did I get concrete answers to all my questions, I got some really helpful advice to pass along to students and FREE coffee and cookies…YES!


Take advantage of this opportunity to talk openly with law enforcement; you might be surprised at how willing they are to answer your questions, address your problems, and to offer advice for staying out of legal trouble. Don’t just take it from me; here’s what they say on the Coffee with a Cop website:

“In over 175 cities and towns in 36 states, Coffee with a Cop has done wonders for community trust, police legitimacy and partnership building.

One of the keys to Coffee with a Cop’s success is that it removes the physical barriers and crisis situations that routinely define interactions between law enforcement officials and community members. Instead it allows for relaxed, informal one-on-one interactions in a friendly atmosphere. This informal contact increases trust in police officers as individuals which is foundation to building partnerships and engaging in community problem solving.

So pull up a chair and grab a cup of coffee….”

See ya’ll there!

Celebrations NOT Citations!

Nothing diminishes a celebratory occasion quite like a citation or an arrest, and yet drinking and drug related citations typically increase from now until New Year’s Day. So, I am passing along straightforward advice, based on common questions I get from students, on how to minimize your legal risk in a variety of situations.

Tips for…

Hosting a party

  1. Talk to your neighbors. Letting your neighbors know about your party—and perhaps house-party1 - Copyinviting them—opens the lines of communication and reduces the chance they will call in a noise complaint, which is the most common reason why police show up at your door.
  2. Guard the door. Know who is in your home and what they are doing. In the end, you are responsible for what happens at your residence, so if people you don’t know show up and start smoking marijuana or using other illegal drugs, you could be held responsible. Guarding the door and keeping it closed also protects you from officers coming in or seeing things that may lead to a search, a citation, or even an arrest.
  3. Don’t provide alcohol. If an underage person attends your party and says that you provided the alcohol, you could be charged with aiding and abetting underage consumption. If you provide alcohol to someone (regardless of age) and they leave your house and get in a car accident, you could also face social host liability charges. So, make it BYOB.
  4. Call 911 in an emergency. North Carolina’s Good Samaritan Law grants immunity from certain drug and alcohol possession charges for anyone who calls 911 in an overdose or medical emergency situation.

When the cops show up

  1. Be discreet. Keep the front door closed at all times. Once officers come to your residence, simply open the door and step outside then close the door behind you. If police come to your door and view what they believe to be suspicious or illegal activity, this could give them probable cause to search, issue citations, and even make arrests.
  2. Be polite. Ask, “How can I help you, officer?” If they are responding to a noise complaint, apologize for the noise and assure them that you will take action to get the noise level down. No matter what happens, always maintain a courteous attitude with the police.
  3. Do not consent to a search. Police must have a search warrant before they can search you (thanks to the Fourth Amendment). Without a warrant, police can conduct a search if

Gerald_G_Police_mana) you consent

b) they see or smell evidence of illegal activity like alcohol, marijuana use

c) they have an arrest warrant

d) there are exigent circumstances like an unconscious person in plain view or a loud crash coming from inside the house.

If the police ask to come into your home, simply respond “I do not consent to a search.” The same goes if they ask to search any of your belongings including your car. Most people voluntarily give up their Fourth Amendment rights by consenting to searches when an officer has no warrant. Even if an officer does have probable cause, you cannot be punished for saying that you do not consent, and the burden will be on the officer to prove probable cause in court. Never physically resist police if they enter your residence or search you; just repeat “I do not consent to a search.

4. Do not incriminate yourself. If an officer asks you a question and answering honestly may incriminate you, then don’t answer (this is your Fifth Amendment right).

“Have you been drinking?” “Are there underage people consuming alcohol at this party?” “What is in your bag? Marijuana? Alcohol?” “How did you buy this alcohol? Did you use a fake ID?”—all of these questions can be answered with “I have no comment.” Make sure that you remain courteous even when refusing to answer questions. You might say, “Officer, I know you are just doing your job, but I have no comment about that/I wish to remain silent.

5. Don’t run. When police show up at a residence for a noise complaint and they see people running away, this will heighten suspicion. Most noise complaints, if handled properly, will involve a short interaction and a warning from the responding officers, so don’t give them any reason to investigate further.

On the road…

  1. Heed all the above advice. Being discreet in this situation means being aware of anything that may be in plain view of an officer who has pulled you over. If an officer asks you to step out of the car, then exit and lock and close your car door behind you. Do not consent to searches of your car or personal belongings or incriminate yourself. And, of course, be polite throughout the interaction no matter what happens.
  2. Show ID. As the driver, you are required to show your driver’s license to an officer if you are pulled over. Never show a fake ID to an officer, even if you are facing an underage possession charge. As a passenger, you should also show your real ID if asked.
  3. Refuse sobriety tests, but not the breathalyzer. As the driver, you can legally refuse Leather_key_chainto take roadside sobriety tests without any consequences (walking a straight line, touching your nose, etc.), but refusing a breathalyzer will result in an automatic revocation of your driver’s license for 1 year, whether or not you are charged with DUI. As a passenger, you can refuse a breathalyzer (whether or not you are underage) without any consequences.
  4. Give yourself plenty of time to sober up. After a heavy night of drinking, you may be surprised at how long it takes to get back to a 0.00 BAC, the only acceptable level for under 21 drivers (0.08 for 21 and over). A 160 lb man who consumes 8 drinks will need 12 hours to get back to 0.00 (check out this chart for more info: http://www.health.arizona.edu/health_topics/aod/hourstozerobac.htm). Sleeping it off for a few hours before driving home may not be enough to avoid a DUI, especially for underage drinkers, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to sober up before you think about driving home. Better yet, have a designated driver or plan to take a cab to and from the party.
  5. Never give keys to an intoxicated driver. Even if they have only had a little. Letting a less drunk person drive you home can get you charged with aiding and abetting a DUI.

Get more info on how to handle police interactions, including videos, at http://www.flexyourrights.org/. To learn more about the law or for a free (that’s right, folks, I said FREE) legal consultation, visit Carolina Student Legal Services.

What is the difference between “regret sex” and “sexual assault”?

Suppose a woman wakes up in the morning after a sexual encounter and then labels it sexual assault, to the surprise of her sexual partner.  Did this woman[1] regret having sex and then say she was a victim so she doesn’t have to come to terms with her actions?  Is she lying about being sexually assaulted so people don’t think she is a slut?

I often hear these questions at sexual assault response or prevention trainings around campus. The short answer to this question is, NO, women do NOT say they have been sexually assaulted or raped when they have had consensual sex that they regret.

Let’s break this down.

Do people who had a consensual sexual experience that they regret call it sexual assault?
NO, very rarely.[2]

  • Consider what happens when someone publicly says they have been a victim or survivor of sexual assault. Being a victim of any crime is not something that people are proud of or gain positive public recognition for reporting or discussing. Unfortunately, survivors commonly receive negative attention across news or social media for publicly discussing their experience.
  • Because many of us assume we know how we would react to trauma, victims/survivors are asked why they engaged in behaviors that happened before the assault (“why did you drink so much?”), which (intentionally or not) blame them for something which is not their fault.[3] When we take into consideration the low rates of convictions in the criminal system as well, it’s easy to understand why sexual assaults are underreported to the police, and rarely reported falsely. It only makes sense that some people who are assaulted never tell their friends[4] and avoid calling their experience “assault.”

This article called “Do Women Often Lie About Rape?” by Jarune Uwujaren demonstrates how problematic it is to assume that women lie about being raped. Uwujaren writes that given the high rates of assault, “The fact that some women lie about rape isn’t exactly the most pressing conversation we need to be having.” Instead, we should be talking about how few rapes are reported to authorities compared to the many people who indicate on anonymous surveys that they have experienced unwanted sexual contact or penetration.

Do we all have things that we actively chose to do that we later regret? Sure. Does this even include kissing, touching, or other sexual activity? It definitely can.

The bottom line, though, is that the vast majority of people do not actively and freely choose to engage in sex and then later call it sexual assault.  Learn more about why it is important to believe someone who tells you that they have experienced sexual assault.

Do people who experience sexual assault say they regret the experience?
YES, especially right afterwards.

  • In my experience, many people (men, women, and trans* folks) who experience unwanted and non-consensual sex blame themselves for what happened, even though it’s not their fault. They may mean that they regret actions they took before the assault, from being at a party to having anything to drink at all.
  • Many victims/survivors do not use the terms “rape” or “sexual assault” or “sexual violence” to describe their experience immediately after the incident.  Since alcohol is involved in over half of sexual assaults on a college campus, folks may not remember what happened if they were blacked out or drunk. They also may not be able to clearly talk about what happened because of new research about neurobiology in trauma victims which indicates that the “brain’s prefrontal cortex—which is key to decision-making and memory—often becomes temporarily impaired.”[5]   If folks do remember their unwanted sexual experience, they may say that

*They wouldn’t have engaged in the sexual activity if they had been sober,
i.e. they regret drinking
*They didn’t really want to have sex
*They did not want to have sex without protection, but their partner insisted

In short, folks who experience unwanted or nonconsensual sex may tell you that yes, they regret the experience, and they may blame themselves because it’s easier for them than dealing with the reality that their control was taken away from them and they were sexually assaulted.

Sometimes, a survivor will later name the event as rape or assault because he/she/ze[6] realizes that (1) what happened WASN’T their fault, and (2) it wasn’t consensual.  So you could hear someone say they regretted the experience and then days, weeks, months, or years later say they were assaulted, but this doesn’t mean that they weren’t assaulted in the first place. It means they have come to terms with what happened to them and are hopefully on the road to recovery from a traumatic experience.

[1] Victims and survivors of sexual assault can be male or female or trans*.  I use the term ‘woman’ here due to the high rate of violence against women and the way I typically hear this question being asked.

[2] Researchers looking at reports over 10 years at one university estimate that rape was reported falsely (ie. fabricated or made up) 5.9% of the time. The FBI estimated in 1996 that up to 8% of reports of rape are false or unfounded (ie. there isn’t enough evidence base to move forward with criminal charges) which is consistent with other crimes.

[3] Many people at UNC-CH are actively working to change this reality for our campus.

[4] But hopefully speak to a confidential therapist, like at CAPS

[6] “Ze” is one of several gender non-specific terms used by trans*, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, agender, and people who reject the male/female binary

Plan for a Safe Halloween: Be an ACTive Bystander!

Make a plan:

  • Before Halloween (like, TODAY!) talk with your friends about getting to and from Halloween parties and events how you will get around and how you will get home, and how you will keep tabs on each other throughout the night so no one gets left behind.
  • Account for all people in your group of friends when you go out and when you head home. Staying with friends throughout the night will help ensure that everyone is safe and having a good time!
  • Offer to watch your friends’ drinks (alcoholic or not) when they leave the table.


Make it a night to remember:

  • Drink water!
  • Consider the weather when you are designing your costume – be sure to dress warmly and remind your friends as well!
  • Activities like pre-gaming raise BAC (blood alcohol content, a measure of the amount of alcohol in your body) and make it more likely for a person to pass out or black out.  Talk to your friends about risk reduction strategies if they are planning to drink. Some common strategies among UNC students are: eating before drinking, avoiding shots, alternating alcoholic drinks with water, setting a pacing limit (e.g. 1 drink per hour), or an overall drink limit for the night.  For more ideas, check out this blog post.

Ask for Help:

  • Familiarize yourself with Halloween-specific resources and guidelines like the Town of Chapel Hill Guidelines, Parking Information from Public Safety
  • If someone is experiencing signs of alcohol poisoning or other injury, call 911 for medical help.
  • If you see potentially violent (physical or sexual) situation, call 911 for help!
  • If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, find one of the many uniformed police officers that will be on hand for the event. Their main goal is to keep everyone safe. If you can’t find someone in person, call 911.
  • Keep in mind NC’s new Good Samaritan Law: If you seek medical help on behalf of someone with alcohol poisoning, you will be exempt from certain underage alcohol possession charges. In other words, they cannot ticket you with underage possession or consumption of alcohol if you are you seeking medical attention on behalf of someone who may have alcohol poisoning.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable contacting police, look for volunteers from Student Affairs. They’ll be walking around in pairs to assist students in need of support. They can connect you to emergency or support services.
  • When things don’t go as planned, contact other resources that night or the next day for support for yourself or your friends.

Have a safe and fun Halloween!  

Energy Drinks—Endurance Enhancer or Workout Wrecker?

My very first Healthy Heels blog post talked about coffee. Coffee had a bad rap as the cause of high blood pressure, anxiety, and insomnia, all of which is still true. However, new research has pointed to the health benefits of coffee consumption, like lower risk of type 2 diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and liver cancer. Thanks to a combination of antioxidants and caffeine, drinking coffee is also linked to improved concentration, memory, and athletic endurance.

But, can the same be said for Energy Drinks?

energy-drinksEnergy drinks, like Monster or Red Bull, and energy shots, like 5-hour energy, can contain 200 to 400 milligrams (and sometimes more) of caffeine. These products are sold as nutritional supplements and therefore not regulated by the FDA, so there is no limit to the caffeine they can contain. College students may be the fastest growing market for energy drinks, with 39% of students consuming at least 1 in the past month. Consumption is higher among males, white students, and athletes.

The American College of Sports Medicine has found that moderate caffeine consumption can boost performance during short-term bull_power_smallerendurance exercise lasting about 5 minutes. Caffeine had no effect on sprint performance (less than 90 seconds of intense exercise). Although a diuretic, caffeine does not lead to dehydration in moderate amounts nor does it cause calcium loss, as previously thought.

But evidence suggests that energy drinks and their high caffeine content may not be the best choice for college students….

  • A new study in Switzerland, suggests that caffeine consumption among teenagers may slow brain development by impairing deep sleep cycles. Our brains do not reach full maturity until our mid-20s, with the fastest growth occurring during puberty, and caffeine consumption can impair brain development and influence behavior.
  • 500-600 mg of caffeine can cause “intoxication” which can lead to insomnia, muscle tremors, gastrointestinal problems, and increased heart rate. Over-consumption can produce classic symptoms of anxiety disorder like jitteriness and racing heart, followed by withdrawal symptoms like headache and fatigue, all of which can negatively impact a person’s ability to function.
  • Drinkers who mix alcohol and energy drinks are 3 times more likely to binge drink and twice as likely to experience negative consequences while drinking, such as sexual assault and riding with an intoxicated driver. Caffeine masks the depressant effects of alcohol, allowing drinkers to continue drinking and engaging in activities, like sex and driving, but it does not affect the metabolism of alcohol or level of cognitive impairment. The result is a dangerous combination: a person who is very drunk and very awake.

Personal BestSo, drinking your favorite energy drink may give you a boost in your workout. But are the gains worth the risk of slowing your brain development and causing anxiety?

In the end, it’s up to you.

Your Guide to NC’s New Amnesty Law

Have you ever seen someone passed out drunk and thought about calling 911, but didn’t?

What stopped you?

Research suggests that fear of police involvement may be the main reason why people do lawnot seek help in an alcohol poisoning or drug overdose situation, so many states, including North Carolina, are taking legislative action. On April 4th 2013, the NC General Assembly passed the 911 Good Samaritan and Naloxone Access Law, effective immediately. The law is designed to prevent drug overdose deaths (including alcohol poisoning) by providing amnesty for people seeking help in the event of an overdose and by expanding access to naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdose.

So what does this mean for YOU?

1. If you seek medical help on behalf of someone with alcohol poisoning, you will be exempt from certain underage alcohol possession charges.

The law grants immunity for charges from law enforcement, including campus safety. In other words, they cannot ticket you with underage possession or consumption of alcohol if you are you seeking medical attention on behalf of someone who may have alcohol poisoning.

To ensure you receive amnesty, you must do 2 things:

(1) Provide your name when calling 911

(2) Stay with the victim until help arrives.

***UNC is currently working on incorporating Medical Amnesty into campus alcohol policy so that students may also receive immunity from housing and conduct violations in medical emergencies***

911 Shield2. If you seek help on behalf of a drug overdose victim, you and the victim will be exempt from certain drug charges. When it comes to drug overdose, note that the law grants amnesty for a person seeking medical help on behalf of an overdose victim AND the overdose victim himself. Neither can be charged with:

(1)    Misdemeanor drug possession (e.g. marijuana)

(2)    Felony possession of less than one gram of heroin or one gram of cocaine

(3)    Possession of drug paraphernalia

In other words, you can call 911 or seek medical attention if you think a friend has overdosed, and the police cannot arrest you or the victim for any of the above, even if the drugs are in plain sight. If larger quantities of drugs are present or evidence of drug manufacturing, distribution, and/or selling, the law does not offer protection against those charges.

3. You can possess and administer naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdose.

Opioids are a class of drugs that include heroin and more commonly-used prescription drugs like Percocet, OxyContin, and Vicodin. These drugs account for the majority of drug overdose deaths. Naloxone, which can be injected or administered via nasal spray, blocks opioids and reverses an overdose even if the person is already unconscious. Harm NCHRC-logoreduction organizations, law enforcement, and people using heroin or opioid prescription meds are now able to keep naloxone on hand as a safety measure. In other words, a friend or bystander can administer the drug without having to wait for help to arrive.

North Carolina is the 12th state to enact this type of legislation and many more states are following suit. Take home message: if you think someone has overdosed on drugs or alcohol, CALL 911!

Visit North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCRC) website for information on this law.

More than Molly- Real Talk about Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

If you’ve been anywhere on the internet lately, you’ve probably heard about Rick Ross’ newly released single U.O.E.N.O., during which he raps “Put molly in her champagne / She ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that / She ain’t even know it,” The song has sparked controversy and online petitions calling for companies like Reebok to drop Rick Ross as a spokesperson and radio stations to remove the song from their playlists. I gotta tell you- I’m pretty pumped about this. I’m pumped that the public is outraged with Ross’ lyrics and glorification of drugging a woman with ecstasy (a.k.a. “molly”) in order to have sex with her and that I haven’t found one article citing that the ambiguous woman Ross is referring to should have watched her drink.

Despite my elation about the public conversations being prompted by Ross’ lyrics, our conversations about drug facilitated sexual assault need to go beyond illicit drugs and drink spiking. If we’re going to talk about drug facilitated sexual assault (DFSA), we need to be willing to engage in a conversation about alcohol. Alcohol is by far the most commonly used substance in drug facilitated sexual assaults, whether alcohol is forced upon the victim* or a perpetrator takes advantage of someone who has willingly consumed alcohol.

drunksexUp to 52% of a sample of men who reported committing a sexual assault since the age of 14 had been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the assault(s) (Gidycz, 2007). High risk drinking has been linked to sexual perpetration among first year college students, with heavy drinkers being more likely to report that they have perpetuated a sexual assault (Neal & Fromme, 2007).

What theories are there to explain the frequent concurrence of alcohol and sexual violence perpetration? Researchers speculate that either:
(a) alcohol causes a causal role in sexual violence perpetration
(b) the desire to commit sexually violent acts prompts perpetrators to use alcohol heavily so that their actions are seen as more socially acceptable/excusable since they are intoxicated
(c) various other factors contribute and cause both high risk drinking and sexual violence perpetration (Abbey, 2008; George, Stoner, Norris, Lopez, & Lehman, 2000).

The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Pennsylvania Coalition against Domestic Violence explain the relationship between American culture, alcohol use, and sexual violence as one that includes multiple factors.

“American culture glamorizes alcohol consumption and links it to sexual desire, sexual performance, aggression, and other types of disinhibited behavior. This affects people in two ways. First, as noted above, people may decide to drink when they want to be sexual, aggressive, and/ or disinhibited. Alcohol provides them with the “liquid courage” to act in the way they wanted to act. Second, intoxicated individuals are likely to interpret other people’s behavior in a manner that conforms to their expectations. Thus, a smile is more likely to be viewed as a sign of sexual attraction and a mildly negative comment is more likely to be interpreted as grounds for an aggressive response” (Abbey, 2008).

Even with societal pressure and the cognitive effects of alcohol, no matter how drunk a person is it does not excuse committing a sexual assault.

If you’re worried about a friend’s high risk drinking and concerned that their own alcohol use may be influencing their sexual decision making, you can encourage them to make an appointment with an Alcohol and Other Drug Intervention Specialist at Student Wellness. Alcohol and Other Drug Intervention Specialists assist students in exploring the social, academic, and sexual consequences of their drinking and encourage positive changes in drinking behaviors through Tarheel BASICS. Remember, how drunk a person is does not excuse committing a sexual assault.

Look out for Raise the Bar, a Student Wellness initiative launching in April as a part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Raise the Bar is an outreach and training program for local bar establishments offering education on DFSA and training on bystander intervention, providing bar staff the information and  tools to intervene and prevent drug facilitated sexual assault.

Raise the Bar Chapel Hill Caps not Bold


*The term victim is used because this post focuses on circumstances surrounding the victimizing experience of DFSA, not the recovery process

  • Abbey, A. (2008, December). Alcohol and Sexual Violence Perpetration. Harrisburg, PA: VAWnet, a project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence/Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Retrieved month/day/year, from: http://www.vawnet.org
  • George, W.H., Stoner, S.A., Norris, J., Lopez, P.A., & Lehman, G.L. (2000). Alcohol expectancies and sexuality: A self-fulfilling prophecy analysis of dyadic perceptions and behavior. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 61, 168-176.
  • Gidycz, C.A., Warkentin, J.B., Orchowski, L.M. (2007). Predictors of perpetration of verbal, physical, and sexual violence: A prospective analysis of college men. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 8, 79-94.
  • Neal, D.J., & Fromme, K. (2007). Event-level covariation of alcohol intoxication and behavioral risks during the first year of college. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75 , 294-306.

Di-Hydrogen Monoxide: Chemical Alert Warning

As you travel on spring break, make sure you are aware of your body’s levels of Di-Hydrogen Monoxide. Too little Di-Hydrogen Monoxide can result in the following symptoms:

  • Increased thirst
  • Dry mouth and swollen tongue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations (feeling that the heart is jumping or pounding)
  • Confusion
  • Sluggishness
  • Fainting
  • Inability to sweat
  • Decreased urine output
  • Yellow or amber urine output
  • Fever over 101 degrees
  • Vomiting

As you may have figured out, Di-Hydrogen Monoxide = H2O. For you the chemistry-averse among you, that’s what’s commonly referred to as “Water”.

In all seriousness, how much water you drink is important for your health, safety, and ability to enjoy spring break. As you can see from the list above, dehydration can have some very serious health effects.

If someone does exhibit signs of dehydration, get them to a cool place and have them sip water, chew ice chips, suck on a Popsicle, or sip a sports-drink. Loosen their clothing, and seek shade or air-conditioning immediately. If symptoms worsen or persist, take the person to an emergency room or call an ambulance.


College students, if they choose to drink alcohol over spring break, can be especially susceptible to dehydration. Alcohol, like caffeine, is a diuretic. Diuretics act on the kidneys to make you pee more than usual, which results in your body losing too much of its water and becoming dehydrated.

The symptoms of a hangover are mainly due to your body being dehydrated, and can best be cured by drinking water, not a caffeinated beverage.

Hydration is especially important on spring break, when people travel to warm weather where they may be sweating more, enjoying the sunshine more, and expending more energy traveling than they normally do in Chapel Hill.

So to stay hydrated and prevent the above symptoms, follow these 5 easy steps:

  1. Have a full water bottle with you at all times.
  2. Sip water before and during exercise or exposure to heat.
  3. Break up the time you spend in hot temperatures. Find air-conditioned or shady areas and allow yourself to cool down between exposures to the heat.
  4. Wear light colored and loose-fitting clothing, and carry a fan or mister to cool yourself. Doing so will lessen the amount of water you lose by sweating.
  5. If you choose to drink alcohol, alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. This will help you pace your drinking and stay more hydrated.

So now that you know the signs of dehydration and how to avoid it, have a great, safe (and well-hydrated) spring break!