Ask Adelle: A guide to a safe and sexy spring break
Alright readers, the week we’ve all been waiting for is upon us—spring break! Spring semester flies by, but I think we can all agree that by mid-March we are in need of some down time. For many, spring break is a time to let loose and enjoy themselves. Some of you may be taking trips, or just staying home and enjoying the down time with friends and family. However you spend your break, we want to help make it as safe and enjoyable as possible. If you choose to partake in risky behaviors such as drinking, drug use and sex, we want to help you to make the best choices for your health and safety. A little preparedness and a conscientious attitude will make for your best and healthiest break.
Heavy drinking is the number one threat to the health, safety and success of college students. If you are using alcohol, you need to be aware of its potential for destructive consequences.
The ill-effects are certainly not limited to underage drinkers, but should you choose to, know that the consequences may be more severe than if you are of the legal drinking age— you risk criminal fines, potential jail time, suspension of license and required counseling, not to mention harm to yourself. Why risk the stress and drama of negative consequences when you could be relaxing and maximizing your fun by being safe and conscientious? The Wellness Center believes in taking a harm reduction approach to potentially risky behaviors that we know students may engage. We want you to be as safe as possible.
Alcohol may lessen inhibitions, but once you are past your “sweet spot”, you have hit a point of no return. More alcohol does not equal more fun. The biphasic effect can be blamed for this—when your blood alcohol content (BAC) remains below a 0.06, you remain in a “buzzed”, euphoric, and relaxed state. As you drink more, alcohol’s depressive effects begin to kick in—making you feel sluggish and disoriented. Once you reach this point, you will not return to the happy zone.
Knowing your limits and consuming alcohol safely will also make a sexual experience more enjoyable. You will have the capacity to make safe choices such as using a condom, and communicating with your partner about their status. Pace yourself, be sure to alternate drinks with water or other non-alcoholic beverages, and have enough to eat before and while you are partying. “Drunk-o-rexia” (a nickname for the practice of starving oneself all day in order to avoid calories and to get drunk faster) is a very real problem, and can have devastating consequences. Recently, an 18 year old freshman at the University of Miami died after pregaming with large quantities of vodka and champagne. Please know that your one precious life is infinitely more important than the temporary fun of drinking.
Using alcohol is strongly linked to illicit drug use and risky sexual behaviors. In conjuncture with one another, you are putting yourself at high risk for injury, sexually transmitted diseases and even death.
We understand that even with the best efforts to stay in control, things happen and you may end up making a choice that is less than the best. If you engaged in unprotected sex and are concerned about sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy, don’t delay in seeing a health care professional. You can purchase Plan B emergency contraception over the counter, which, if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, can reduce the risk of pregnancy by 89%. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is available at Health Services, and if used correctly can protect you from contracting the HIV virus should you have an unprotected encounter.
If you feel your drinking has reached a point of negatively affecting your everyday life, help is available right here on campus. You can visit the alcohol and other drug services (AOD) page on the Southern website for information on services such as consultation and outreach, evaluation and treatment, self assessment, educational programs, and support groups. Have a most excellent spring break– be safe, be well and take good care!
Photo Credit: Jessica Roginski