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DrinkSmart x LEAP

As we head back into the school year, and for many, return to campus for the first time in over a year and a half, we here at LEAP wanted to learn more about party culture and how to make smart choices. So, we sat down with DrinkSmart, an Ontario educational program created by post-secondary students for post-secondary students, to learn more about how to drink responsibly and party safely in post-secondary.

Studies have shown that we’re OVER-estimating how much drinking actually goes on in our social circles. At first, I thought this was good news because if we’re overestimating how much our friends consume, doesn’t that mean we’re looking out for each other and intervening before they reach their limits? But instead, this just means that a lot of us are just trying to “keep up” or heading out to a party when we really don’t want to go.

LEAP: I hear stories about living in residence or off-campus housing and that there are parties all the time. Is that true?

DrinkSmart: Look, if you want to find a party, you probably can. But you don’t need to be in college to do that. If you are going to a party, go with a group of friends that you know and trust. Send your location to someone who is not attending the party and let them know when you would be home.

LEAP: What kinds of things should I plan for?

DrinkSmart: Here are four things to think about. You want to practice these so that it becomes a habit every time you are going out, even if you are not drinking:

  1. Transportation. How will you get there and home again safely? Walking and biking are not always safe options. So, call a cab or ride-share!

  2. How much (if any) do you want to drink? If you are going to a house party, take your own drinks. This way you can pack what you want to drink and stick to your plan!

  3. Drink water before, during and after the party. (Turns out, hangover symptoms are largely caused by dehydration). And food slows down your body’s absorption of the alcohol, so think about what you will do for food later that night. Pack a few snacks!

  4. Charge your phone (and back-up battery) while you are getting dressed!

LEAP: I’ve heard that you should have 1 drink per hour. Is that true and why?

DrinkSmart: Sort of. Everyone’s bodies are different. And the effects of the alcohol will be different from one day to the next.

Alcohol is a depressant, so it matters if you are hungry, tired, stressed, and even if you’ve had a smoke. The alcohol goes into your bloodstream (blood alcohol concentration or BAC) and it can take a minimum of 1 hour for the liver to process the alcohol contained in one “standard” drink. So, space yourself and space out your drinks between 60-90 minutes. Have a glass of water and enjoy yourself.

LEAP: What is this mysterious “standard” drink amount?

DrinkSmart: Great question! Here are the three basic types of alcohol and the amount that is considered a “standard” drink size:

Hard Liquor (40%) = 1.5 OZ or 43 ML Wine (12%) = 5 oz or 142 ML Beer/Cider (5%) = 12 oz or 341 mL

But it can get tricky. Every alcoholic beverage must show the alcohol by volume (ABV) on the label. Each type of alcohol has a range. Beer 3%-13%, wine 8%-14% and hard liquor 15%-50%. So, as you can see, you can order a pint of beer that is more than a “standard” drink amount. Or easily overpour your own drinks at home. But it’s okay to drink more than a “standard” drink amount at one time.

A “standard” drink amount is not what you should be drinking but what you should be using to count and track how much you are consuming. It is a standardized guide to help you monitor your BAC level, which is your intoxication level. Only time can sober you up – cold showers and coffee only make you wet and perky 😉.

LEAP: Any final tips?

DrinkSmart: Being social is a great chance to meet people and spend time with friends. It is also important to make sure you know how to keep yourself and others safe. If there is alcohol at a party, it comes with risks. Alcohol lowers your ability to make good decisions and impairs your thinking. You start to feel confident and fearless - which can lead to hurting yourself or others. Drinking too much too fast (binge drinking) leads to serious problems.

So have your plan. Avoid drinking games. Eat before and while drinking. Count your drinks. Pour your own drinks and avoid top-ups.

Head over to to get a few more #DrinkSmartTIPS and make sure that you are ready to make the right choice for yourself.

About The Author

Born in 2013 by a group of students looking to supplement and support their campuses’ alcohol awareness programming with relevant messaging. DrinkSmart's organic message, developed for students by students, is a strong community partner, promoting responsible drinking to post-secondary students across Ontario.



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