Drinking is one of the biggest perceptions of what the college experience is. Because of this, many new college students dive right into drinking without knowing the side effects or repercussions. And when it comes time for students to face these repercussions, they may struggle to find the right resources.
Estefania Lopez-Ramirez is a Health Promotion Specialist for Mohawk College’s Health and Wellness Centre, who is heavily involved in teaching students healthy drinking habits.
“We recognize that our population consumes alcohol, and we want to give all the necessary resources for them to do it in a safe way.”Estefania Lopez-Ramirez
In January, Lopez-Ramirez and her team promoted what they called “dry-ish January.” Instead of taking out alcohol completely, through dry-ish January, they promoted mindful alcohol consumption habits.
This helped students recognize the difficulty that comes with quitting drinking cold turkey.
Stressing the importance of this taught students to learn what’s best for themselves (because we love a self-aware queen).
Throughout the month, the team of health specialists hosted outreach tables and games to teach students the importance of drinking smart.
“Mario Kart DUI” was among these games. In the game, students would spin a wheel to know how many drinks they had.
Students would then receive impairments, like drunk goggles, depending on this number. After, they would attempt an impaired race in Mario Kart.
“It was a disaster. [The students] were not able to play at all – they weren’t even able to grab the remote in front of them because they were so drunk from the goggles.”Estefania Lopez Ramirez
She also said some students wearing the goggles fell during their attempt to walk in a straight line.
Lopez-Ramirez explained that this is the specialist’s way of opening the conversation about alcohol to students, asking them to “imagine if they were doing it in real life.”
She also wants students to know that they can ask for help at any time from their campus counsellors (which is free and who doesn’t love that).
She said that should the students need it, counsellors will connect them to community services that will get them long-term help.
“We want you to really make a change in your life. That’s why we talk to students – we give them the resources and let them know that we’re here for them. They just have to ask for help and use the resources we have – [which] sometimes the students don’t know about.”Estefania Lopez-Ramirez
This short TikTok explains another benefit to drinking less: the money.
If the cost of drinks seems high to my parents, it’s way too high for college students. Why should we force ourselves to spend these large amounts of money when we have things like, I don’t know, rent?
As long as cozzie livs (UK term for the cost of living) is a thing, college students will forever be scrounging for pennies to go out on Tequila Tuesdays, Thirsty Thursdays, the weekend, and all over again.
DrinkSmart is a website that provides various resources for drinking safely.
The website features things like drinking tips, blogs, drink calculators, and quizzes with money prizes (Who doesn’t love a good cash prize?).
The website also has a section where anyone can sign up to be their school’s Campus Ambassador. The ambassador would work with DrinkSmart and the college to promote these healthy drinking habits.
Lopez-Ramirez says she uses DrinkSmart as a means of guiding students to drinking healthily.
“We use [DrinkSmart] a lot because the tips they have are really good. Also, the way they engage students about doing these quizzes and giving prizes like money is a really good way just to capture the attention of students and make them aware of a topic that is important to know.”Estefania Lopez-Ramirez
Through the DrinkSmart website, students can find out if their campus is already connected to it. If not, they can apply to become a campus partner and get these resources straight to their school.
If you or a friend is having difficulty drinking safely, check out these resources and don’t be afraid to ask for help.