Other Safety Considerations while Drinking

CW: the following includes discussion of drug-facilitated sexual assault. If you or someone else has or thinks they have experienced this, connect with a confidential SHARE advocate by calling 609-258-3310. 

When consuming alcohol, there are lots of things to consider beforehand, as well as while drinking to reduce risks and maintain safety of yourself and others.  

Keep an eye on each other. 

  • Plan to go out in a group and arrive together and leave together. If you decide to leave early, let your friends know, and notify them that you have arrived at your destination safely. 
  • If you’re at a party and separate from your group, check in with them during the night to see how they’re doing.
  • Don’t be afraid to let a friend know if something is making you uncomfortable or if you are worried about their safety. 

Know what you’re drinking.

  • Make your drink yourself or watch it being mixed/poured. Knowing what goes into your drink helps reduce the risks of consuming more than you intend to, having something that doesn't sit well with you, or having another substance added to your drink.
  • Avoid large-batch drinks like punches that may have a deceptively high alcohol content that is masked by added flavor or sweeteners. There is no way for you to know exactly what was used to create these drinks.   

Keep a close eye on your drink.

  • This way, you can ensure nothing is added to it that you don’t know about.
  • Don’t leave a drink unattended. That includes when you use the bathroom, go dancing, or leave to make a phone call. Either take the drink with you or throw it out. Avoid using that unattended cup to refill your drink.
  • Never accept a drink from someone else when you didn’t see it being mixed/poured. This includes pre-poured cups that are sitting out on a table or bar.
  • If you choose to accept a drink from someone you’ve just met, try to go with the person to the bar to order it, watch it being poured, and carry it yourself. 
  • When in doubt, dump it out.
    • If you don’t want to obviously pour it out, you can “accidentally” spill it, or put it down somewhere and “forget” where you put it, so you need to get a new one. 

A note on date rape drugs:

The most commonly used drug to facilitate sexual assault is alcohol. However, sometimes drugs, referred to as “date rape drugs” (DRD) may be added to a drink without someone’s knowledge.  

  • Most DRD are odorless and tasteless so you can’t tell that they are there.   
  • Many of the symptoms of DRD are similar to acute alcohol intoxication (e.g., blackout, nausea, impaired gross motor functioning), so it can be hard to be certain. Be aware of sudden changes in the way your body feels. For example, do you feel more intoxicated than you are comfortable with, or you are used to with the same amount of alcohol? Other possible symptoms that there might have been something in your drink besides alcohol include unusual physical reactions or finding it hard to move.  
  • Tell a friend and have them take you to a safe place. If you suspect you or a friend has been drugged, call 911, and tell the healthcare professionals that you suspect you or a friend have been drugged so they can administer the right tests. Because DRDs are often metabolized rapidly, they may not show up on a toxicology screen.
  • If possible, wait to utilize the bathroom until you are speaking with 911 and ask them what’s the best way to relieve your bladder and test for potential drugs in your system. 

Trust your instincts. 

If you feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or worried for any reason, don’t ignore these feelings. Go with your gut. Get somewhere safe and find someone you trust, or call Public Safety. 

Plan how you're going to get home before you go out.

  • You can decide with your friends who will be the designated driver, make sure you can get an Uber, Lyft or other ride-share service home or use public transport. 
  • On-campus on many nights when the Eating Clubs are open, you can catch the UMatter Bus back to the colleges/dorms. 
  • It’s also a good idea to go home with a group rather than on your own. 

Only get in the car with a driver who isn’t under the influence of any substances, including alcohol.  

If you need to drive when going out, decide who will be the designated driver before you go out.

  • The designated driver should not use any substances, including alcohol, cannabis or any other drugs, before or during the night out.
  • There is no safe level of alcohol or other substance use for driving. The more of a substance a driver has, the more likely an accident is. 

Adapted from https://www.rainn.org/articles/alcohol-safety