The college guide to drinking

Know your brews

Alcohol can affect you in a variety of different ways, so it's important to know what you're putting into your body. (Photo by Katerina Kotsaftis)

Alcohol can affect you in a variety of different ways, so it’s important to know what you’re putting into your body. (Photo by Katerina Kotsaftis)

Drinking in college is a time-honoured tradition, a rite of passage. 

Yet, alcohol can have a steep learning curve in terms of consumption, so it’s important to know what you’re drinking and its effects. 

It can be hard to learn your limits if you are unfamiliar with how alcohol works.

Hard liquors are a mixture of pure alcohol and a variety of other ingredients. Beer is made from fermented barley, water and hops, and wine is made from fermented crushed grapes. With all of these beverages, it is the alcohol that gets people drunk.

On a provincial level, the Alberta and Gaming Liquor Commission (AGLC) controls alcohol distribution and sales. The AGLC sets the standard serving of drink size and helps to ensure that legal age set by provincial legislation is followed.

The serving of standard drinks is regulated by the AGLC: 1.5-ounces for shots of spirits/liqueurs, 12-ounces for servings of beer and five-ounce servings for a glass wine at most restaurants and pubs. These criteria are put in place to ensure all alcoholic drink orders contain 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol, based on health standards established by AHS. It typically takes about an hour for a person to metabolize one standard drink.  The AGLC recommends that people consume no more than 10-15 standard drinks per week, or two drinks a day. 

AHS defines binge drinking as consuming five or more drinks per sitting for men and four or more drinks per sitting for women. Ty Bilcke, a business administration student at SAIT, said, “Moderation. It’s not a sprint it’s a marathon,” when your planning a night out. 

Beer will typically have a five per cent alcohol by volume, but this can vary, especially with the growing selection of microbreweries. The calories also vary, with light beers having a lower calorie count around 90, while heavier stouts can have a calorie count above 300 per serving.

Wine will typically have a 12 per cent alcohol by volume, but like beer, wine will vary based on the vineyard and type of wine. Wines will typically be around 100 to 200 calories a glass

Spirits generally have a 40 per cent alcohol by volume per serving. Most spirits will vary between approximately 80-90 calories in a standard drink; however, this can change dramatically based on the spirit used and the type of mix.

As a general rule of thumb, the higher the alcohol and the less mix used, the lower the calories.

There’s only one way to figure out what liquors will be your favourite, try everything. “Don’t be stuck with one certain kind of drink, try everything, even if you think you won’t like it,” recommends Jennifer Hall, a continuing education student at SAIT. 

Hard liquor and mix can be a great option for a new drinker. “Try cocktails, mix it with sugar: it will make things softer. Don’t drink too much,” recommends Monica Urribarri, an engineering and drafting student. 

According to the website Drink Aware, while drinking some people can experience a feeling of relaxation or euphoria, but alcohol is, in fact, a depressant. Alcohol can potentially increase anxiety and stress. Further, the anxiety brought on by drinking can lead to aggression because it reduces people’s ability to think clearly. These changes are brought on by alcohol affecting brain chemistry: it works as an inhibitor to chemicals in the brain.

To help ensure that you have a safe night out, pace your drinking and, “Have a big meal before, have food before you party,” recommends Patrick Murphy, another SAIT student. However, eating doesn’t actually help you metabolize alcohol, but it does slow down the rate in which liquor is metabolized.  Eating can somewhat help to ensure you can drink and party long into the night.

 According to the AGLC, when someone is drunk, there is nothing readily available that can sober them up faster. No matter how much coffee, fresh air, or cold showers someone takes they, will still be drunk. The only thing that will sober people up is time. Just because you feel sober doesn’t mean you are. Always remember to give it time before you drive. 

When you sober up, the best way to feel better is to eat healthy. Fruits and vegetables can help replace the nutrients lost after consuming copious amount of liquor.

It may go against the hangover instinct, but junk and fast foods will actually make you feel worse when recovering from a night out. 

In the end, moderation is key. Save the party for the weekend to save on the calories and the headache.

The Gateway, offers daily deals for both food and liquor. The drink specials vary day to day, but at least one draft beer will typically be on special. If you visit The Gateway before 2 p.m., you will have to order food to accompany any alcohol.

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