Alcohol 101

Drinking may lead to regret, unwanted or unplanned sexual activity, poor academic or athletic performance, violence or injuries.

Assess your alcohol use

Alcohol eCHECKUP TO GO is a confidential, non-judgmental assessment of your alcohol use and takes 20 minutes to complete.

Take eCheckup assessment

Contrary to Popular belief…

  • Not all U of S students drink !  Almost 25% report that they haven’t drank alcohol in the last month or last 12 months.  If you’ve chosen not to drink, you’re not alone.
  • Most students don’t binge drink! Of those who drink, almost half drink less than 5 drinks when they party.
  • Most students don’t drink and drive.,85% of students report using a designated driver if they’ve been drinking.           

U of S Health Assessment Survey, 2013

Alcohol and Academic Performance

There is little doubt that alcohol use has a damaging effect on academic performance. Alcohol affects your whole body, but the most profound effects are on the brain which can persist for long periods of time.

In the Spring of 2013, only 5% of U of S students reported alcohol use affecting their individual academic performance.

Drinking may:

  • Affect the brain cells that are associated with memory, coordination, and judgment. This explains why you forget what you did, stumbled around, and did something you later regretted
  • Shorten your attention span for up to forty-eight hours after drinking.
  • Take up your valuable study time or cause you to skip class from being hung-over.

IF you choose to drink and do well in school:

  • Get your work done before drinking
  • Limit drinking to the weekends
  • Follow the drinking guidelines, even on weekends

Alcohol and Athletic Performance

It’s great to celebrate a win, but just remember that alcohol can work against you, possibly damaging your performance as an athlete or hindering your progress to be a fit and healthy person.

Drinking may:

  • Cause excess weight gain. Fat builds up with alcohol intake.
  • Weakens the hearts ability to function effectively and efficiently.
  • Dehydrates you which reduces your stamina.
  • Decreases your overall performance:  decision making, strength, balance, coordination, muscular and cardiovascular endurance, speed, agility, and metabolism are all reduced.

IF you choose to drink and be active:

  • Avoid alcohol 48 hours before training or playing sports
  • Rehydrate with non-alcoholic drinks after your exercise and then eat.  After that, drink moderately and responsibly.

Alcohol and Sexual Performance

Many people use alcohol to enhance their romantic and sexual feelings, which is usually fine. However, alcohol is often the cause of problematic sexual outcomes, including:

  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STI's)

Drinking may:

  • Decrease arousal and sexual response
  • Reduce the likelihood of any sex discussion (i.e. both parties truly consenting, sexual history (i.e. # of partners, STI’s), birth control method)
  • Increase the risk of unwanted sexual contact
  • Impair judgement and decision-making thereby increasing your chance of engaging in risky sexual behaviour. Approx. 21.5% of U of S students report having unprotected sex while under the influence of alcohol.

If you choose to drink and be sexually active:

  • Be prepared: have condoms with you when you go out
  • Stick with your friends and don’t go off with people you just met or people you don’t know well

What is High Risk Drinking?

All drinking involves risk. Typically high risk means more than 5 drinks in one sitting (more than 4 for women) or drinking to get drunk.  If you chose to drink, please don’t be a high risk drinker!

High Risk Drinking can lead to:

  • Regret
  • Violence and injuries
  • Unwanted or unplanned sexual activity
  • Poor academic performance
  • Memory loss and 'blacking out'
  • Alcohol poisoning

Frequent high risk drinking can lead to:

  • Acute illnesses and respiratory infections (the flu, colds, sinus problems)
  • Neurological problems, including impaired motor skills, deterioration of vision, seizures, and permanent brain damage
  • Liver cirrhosis, various cancers, high blood pressure and heart problems
  • Lifelong alcohol abuse

What is a drink?

One Standard Drink Equals: 12oz of beer or wine cooler, 5oz glass of wine, 1.5oz of hard liquor (40% alcohol)

If you drink, follow

Canada's Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines:

  •  15 drinks a week for  men, with no more than 3 drinks a day most days
  • 10 drinks a week for women, with no more than 2 drinks a day most days

Why Follow LRDG?

  • Better academic success
  • Improved health and reduced long-term health risks
  • Better finances (due to less money spent on drinks)
  • Reduces harm to brain development
  • Less regrets

On Special Occasions
Reduce your risk of injury and harm by drinking no more than 4 drinks (men) or 3 drinks (women) on any single occasion. Always drink in a safe environment

When Zero's the Limit:  Some examples of when you should not drink:

  • When driving a vehicle or using machinery and tools
  • Are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant, wanting to get pregnant or are breastfeeding
  • On medication
  • Don't want to
  • Do not believe you can drink responsibly
  • Living with mental or physical health problems
  • When You're Under 20 years old   Alcohol can harm the way the body and brain develop. If you choose to drink, stick with no more than 1–2 drinks, and never more than 1–2 times per week.


Be Smart:

  • Avoid drinking games
  • Alternate drinks with water
  • Eat before you go out & while you're drinking
  • Drink slowly and stay within the limit of 2 drinks every 2 hours
  • Avoid carbonated/caffeinated mixes as it speeds up alcohol absorption

Be Aware of Alcohol Poisoning

People can experience alcohol poisoning and do not even realize it. Alcohol is a depressant and it can slow down many bodily functions including breathing and the gag reflex (which prevents choking). This can lead to the point of unconsciousness after which your heart and lungs have the potential to stop.

If someone passes out because they are really drunk, leaving them to “sleep it off” is a dangerous idea.

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

  • Recently consumed alcohol
  • Clammy, pale skin
  • Vomiting
  • May have seizures
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Low body temperature
  • Unable to be woken up
  • Unconciousness


  1. Try to wake the person. If you cannot wake them, or they exhibit any signs of alcohol poisoning, call 911.
  2. Position the person onto their side so the person doesn’t roll over onto their back where they can choke on their vomit.
  3. Check skin colour or temperature.  Pale/bluish and clammy skin means they are not getting enough oxygen.
  4. Monitor the person’s breathing. Call an ambulance if the person has irregular or slow breathing.

If you aren’t sure  if the individual is suffering from alcohol poisoning, CALL FOR HELP.

1. Raise the person's closest arm above his/her head. 2. Gently roll him/her toward you. 3. Tilt head to maintain airway. Tuck nearest hand under cheek to help maintain head tilt.

Managing Stress Without Depending on Alcohol


Student life can be stressful when trying to balance responsibilities and a social life. When stress occurs, students sometimes turn to alcohol as a form of relieving this stress. However, this technique doesn’t alleviate your stress; it only masks it. Thankfully, there are other ways to cope with stress without reaching for the bottle. This includes:

  • Deep breathing (in for 4 counts, hold for 2 counts, exhale for 5 counts)
  • Exercise (i.e. go for a walk, jog, yoga)
  • Take a bath
  • Watch a video that will make you laugh or smile
  • Talk to friends and family

What's Your Cap?

What’s Your Cap? is a student run and research based campus initiative that aims to raise awareness and knowledge about the harmful effects associated with students who partake in risky drinking, which are some of the most serious problems on university campuses.

Take the Alcohol E-Checkup self assessment:  It’s quick and confidential.


If you are concerned with your drinking habits, you are certainly not alone. The University of Saskatchewan has numerous resources that you can turn to:

Student Health Services 306-966-5768 
Student Counselling Services 306-966-4920
Sexual Assault Information Centre 306-244-2294