Pop culture often portrays alcohol and partying as an expected and unavoidable part of college life. However, the reality is far more complex. At UNH, some students don’t drink at all, many others drink in low risk ways, and some drink in ways that are a risk to themselves and others. When it comes to alcohol, it’s important to know:
- Choosing not to drink is always a legitimate choice
- How to advocate for your choice not to drink
- Ways to recognize and make low risk drinking choices
- How to help a friend in an emergency
- How to avoid negative consequences due to high risk drinking (e.g. arrests, regrettable decisions, getting sick)
We encourage you to make your own choices at UNH that will help you accomplish your academic and personal goals. Find friends who support your choices and get involved with student groups that share your values and interests. The choice not to consume substances is a valid, low-risk choice. If you choose to drink, please do so in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the safety, success, and well-being of yourself or others.
If you are concerned about your alcohol use, this anonymous online alcohol use screening takes only a few minutes and consists of a series of questions. After completing the screening, you will receive referrals, resources, and more information.
If you or a friend need help with alcohol, nicotine or other drug concerns, please make an appointment to talk with a health educator/counselor. Appointments are confidential. Call 603-862-3823 to schedule or make an appointment online.
If you are a parent/family of a student and are looking for more information/resources related to alcohol at UNH, click here.
Not everybody drinks!
Whatever your reason(s) not to drink, choose what’s right for you. And when others notice that you’re having a good time without the negative consequences that can come with drinking, it’s likely that you’ll empower others to make their own choices as well.
Who says you need alcohol to have fun? Below are some ideas of ways to get involved, meet new people and have a good time without alcohol.
- Join a student organization
- Take a class at UNH Campus Recreation
- Attend events at the MUB hosted by student organizations and UNH. For more events, visit Wildcat Link for events
- Ask your RA to organize a themed party or hall event
- Attend a UNH Athletics game
- Make dinner with friends
- Watch your favorite tv shows or movies
- Enjoy your free time and do something for yourself
- Go for a walk in College Woods
Some of the top reasons students choose not to drink include:
- It’s illegal if you are under 21
- Avoiding getting into trouble for underage drinking
- The desire to stay safe and in control
- Religious or moral reasons
- Previous negative experiences with alcohol
- Health-related reasons
- Family history of substance use disorders
- Personal recovery from alcohol or other drug use
- "Thanks, but no thanks." You can be polite, but you still aren’t interested. It just isn’t something you’re into.
- Say "no," plainly and firmly. In some situations, just saying no without a lot of arguing and explaining is the best response. Just make sure your “no” is a strong and determined one.
- Make a joke. Sometimes humor is the best way to respond to a situation, as it can lighten a serious mood. It can also divert attention away from you and onto something else.
- Give a reason why it’s a bad idea. Maybe you don’t want to drink because you know someone who is struggling with alcoholism and you can see how drinking has impacted their life. Backing up your refusal with evidence gives it more power.
- Make an excuse why you can’t. Maybe you have something else to do that will interfere. Or you have to be somewhere at a specific time. Say it and stick to it.
- Suggest an alternative activity. Lots of students wind up doing stuff they don't want to do because they lack other options and they’re bored. By thinking of something better to do, you’re offering everyone an “out.” You just might be surprised who might take you up on it.
- Ignore the suggestion. Pretend you didn’t hear it, and change the topic to something else. Act like you don’t think the idea was even worth discussing.
- Repeat yourself if necessary. Sometimes it takes more than once, on more than one occasion. Just because someone asks more than once, that doesn’t mean you have to cave.
- Leave the situation. If you don’t like where things are headed, you can take off. It might seem risky, but with you leading the way, others who really don’t want to do it either just may follow you.
- Strength in numbers. Make a pact with your friends to stick with your decision. Often, knowing that your friends will back you up can help you feel more comfortable being assertive. Sometimes “we” feels stronger than “I”.
Some people think they can have more beer than other kinds of alcohol because they think it has less alcohol. That’s not necessarily true. It’s the total amount of alcohol in a serving that counts. Knowing what a standard drink is, and our limit of standard drinks, allows us to stay within recommended health guidelines. Standard drinks consist of the following:
-12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol* (Keep in mind that craft beers now often come in 16 oz cans with higher alcohol percentages.)
-5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol
-1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol
Count your drinks accurately.
Pay attention to serving sizes. For mixed drinks, use a shot glass to measure alcohol whenever possible. Without measurements, mixed drinks can have more than 1 standard serving of alcohol, which may lead to greater intoxication. Avoid drinking punches or drinking out of a liquor bottle. Shots of alcohol are absorbed rapidly into the body. This may lead to dangerous levels of intoxication and impaired judgment very quickly.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, "for women, low-risk drinking is defined as no more than 3 drinks on any single day and no more than 7 drinks per week. For men, it is defined as no more than 4 drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week." For more information on moderate versus binge drinking, visit the NIAAA website.
If you choose to consume alcohol, following low risk drinking strategies can prevent much of the harm associated with alcohol use. Some low risk drinking strategies include:
- Knowing standard drink sizes
- Measuring out standard drinks
- Setting a drink limit and sticking to it
- Eating before and during drinking
- Spacing out drinks to one per hour
- Having a plan and sticking to it (Where am I going? Who am I going with? How am I getting home?)
- Alternating alcohol with non-alcoholic beverages such as water or soda
- Hanging out with friends who don’t drink as often or as much
- Pouring your own drinks so you know exactly how much alcohol they contain
- Avoiding leaving drinks unattended
- Avoiding “pre-gaming," drinking games, or taking shots so that you don’t drink too quickly
- Avoiding mixing alcohol with energy drinks, drugs, non-prescription medications, prescriptions, or illicit drugs
- Considering your mood – when we are excited or upset we may not consider the speed at which we are drinking
Alcohol overdose, also referred to as alcohol poisoning, is a serious and potentially life-threatening incident that occurs when someone drinks too much.
Call for help if you see these signs:
- Someone has vomited (may happen while passed out or sleeping)
- Slurred speech or difficulty speaking
- Pale or blue appearance
- Cold or clammy skin
- Unconscious or unresponsive
- Shallow or irregular breathing
Remember, you may not know when the person started/stopped drinking, what they have been drinking, how fast they drank, if they are under the influence of other drugs (prescription, non-prescription medications or illegal drugs), or if they have any health conditions that might change how alcohol impacts their body and behavior.
How to help while you wait for 911:
- Do not leave the person alone. Wait with them until help arrives.
- Monitor their breathing
- If they are vomiting, help prevent choking by keeping them upright or, if they are lying down, turn their body to one side with knees bent and ensure their head is also turned to the side
- Do not move them unless they are in immediate danger
- Do not try to sober them up with cold showers, food, or drinks
- Talk in a calm manner. Don’t laugh, ridicule, argue with or provoke the person
When a student acts on behalf of another student and calls for help to emergency personnel or a UNH staff member for a condition stemming from the use of alcohol, both the student(s) offering assistance and the student in need of medical attention have the option of filing for medical amnesty. For more information, click here.
New Hampshire State Law
If you are under 21, it is illegal to:
- Have alcohol in your personal possession (externally or internally)
- Misrepresent your age for the purpose of obtaining alcohol
- Drive or ride in a car with alcoholic beverages except when accompanied by a parent, guardian, spouse or someone 21 years of age, or older
- Be intoxicated by consumption of an alcoholic beverage
It is illegal for anyone to:
- Manufacture, sell, possess, or use a falsified ID
- Purchase alcohol for a minor or someone who is intoxicated
- Sell or give away alcohol to a minor or individual who is intoxicated
- Drive while under the influence of alcohol
For more information, please visit the New Hampshire State Statues for Alcoholic Beverages: NH State Statues for Alcoholic Beverages
UNH Rules and Regulations
UNH is committed to establishing and maintaining an environment that supports health, safety, and academic success. The unlawful possession, use, and distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol on the University campus or during University-sponsored activities are prohibited. Students found to be in violation may be subject to:
- Arrest and conviction under the applicable criminal laws of local municipalities, the State of NH or the United States. A conviction can result in sanctions including probation, fines, and imprisonment.
- Discipline in accordance with the procedures of the Student Conduct System. Discipline may include disciplinary probation, loss of scholarship, loss of study abroad opportunity, termination of housing or dismissal from the University.
For more information, please visit the UNH Students Rights, Rules and Responsibilities: UNH Student Code of Conduct