USC 21st Birthday Program
Is your 21st birthday coming up? If so, congratulations! We know that this can be an exciting time for many college students and we want to help you celebrate – the responsible way! While there is no right way to celebrate, there is a lot of information out there that can help you make good choices about your celebration.
21st Birthdays are often synonymous with drinking and the negative consequences associated with high-risk drinking. The Substance Abuse Prevention and Education Office has designed a new initiative to educate students during this high-risk milestone that students usually experience while they are in college. Each student will receive an email from the Substance Abuse Prevention and Education Office within a week of their 21st Birthday with information, resources and education materials about how to have a safe and happy 21st Birthday. Each student will also have the opportunity through the email to claim their birthday gift from the Office of Substance Abuse Prevention and Education.
To start off, let’s debunk some myths and common perceptions about turning 21.
- MYTH: The perception of 21st birthday celebrations is that the individual turning 21 must consume large amounts of alcohol to experience a “rite of passage.” I mean, who hasn’t heard about the “21 at 21” challenge of consuming at least 21 drinks during a 21st birthday night, right? Wrong, the truth is that many people may have heard about excessive drinking but that doesn’t make it a great idea for you
- TRUTH: . The truth is that it’s a myth that the majority of people drink excessively on their birthday, plus there are a multitude of risks that go along with this supposedly “fun” way of celebrating.
Collegedrinkingprevention.gov has put together a great myth buster site – click!
Now that we have cleared that up, you might be wondering what you can do to have a safe and fun night? The most important thing to do before you celebrate your 21st birthday is to know and set your drinking limits. The best way to stick to these limits is by asking a friend to not only serve as your designated driver, but also to assist you in staying under your maximum drink limit. Check out this BAC Calculator (Blood Alcohol Content) to help you set the maximum number of drinks you will consume throughout the night, and then view the effects certain BAC levels can have on your body and senses.
Did you know that your BAC could actually be a fun-o-meter? When looking at the BAC effects, notice that the “euphoria” that individuals may experience from drinking, which is why some people consider drinking fun, dissipates when your blood alcohol level surpasses .125. Once you hit and pass that mark, the fun feeling is replaced with dysphoria (anxiousness, depression). Take another look at the BAC Calculator to see how you can maximize your fun and minimize the risk of ending your night on a sour note. If you know and stick to your predetermined limits, you will have a more fun and safe birthday celebration, as well as one you can actually remember the next morning.
Have you ever wondered how your body is affected by alcohol? Check out this great site where you can interact with different areas of your body like the heart, brain and liver and how they are affected by alcohol. Check this out: Alcohol and You: An Interactive Body.
Your BAC isn’t just a fun-o-meter, it can also measure the health of your wallet and waist! Other effects of drinking that are not usually cited as negative effects because they are not immediately dangerous are the caloric and cost effects that excessive amounts of drinking can cause. Take a look at this calorie counter and cost calculator to figure out what toll a night of drinking can take on your body and wallet. According to the 2010 CORE Survey of the drinking behavior of college students, the average college student consumes 5.13 drinks a week. This means that on a monthly basis, this average drinker would spend about $67 on drinks (If drinks averaged $3) and consume 2000 extra calories. As college students, our on-the-go lifestyle doesn’t afford us much extra spending money or room for wasteful calories, so limiting the amount of drinks you consume can do more the save your life, it can save your wallet and figure.
As an “official" adult, now 21 years old, it is important to realize that while you are considered old enough to handle the responsibilities of consuming alcohol, too much alcohol consumption can diminish the amount of responsibility you are able to display. Keep in mind that although you are legally able to drink, you are still required by law to display orderly conduct in public and refrain from providing alcohol to minors. Now that you have all of the facts, make the best, informed decisions about your celebrations and celebrate your newfound freedom in a positive and safe way!
To help you understand this new responsiblity, please check out the USC Alcohol Policy and South Carolina State Law:
- Official USC Alcohol Policy:
University Policy and Guidelines for Student Alcohol Use
- What are you prepared to lose?
Current South Carolina Laws Related to Alcohol Use