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Karen Kirkpatrick
Office Manager

Ph: (540) 464-7667
Fax: (540) 464-7025
Email Cadet Counseling

Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Center for Cadet Counseling (CCC)
Virginia Military Institute
VMI Health Center
448 Institute Hill, 2nd Floor
Lexington, VA  24450


Alcohol is the world’s second most commonly consumed drug, second only to caffeine. In all cultures people use alcohol to socialize, celebrate, and relax. Nearly 80% of college students nationwide consume alcohol and nearly half of college students participate in heavy episodic drinking, making alcohol one of the most heavily used drugs on the market for college-aged individuals. While we acknowledge that abstinence is an option, the numbers show that abstinence is not for everyone. 

Alcohol can have a varied effect on people, depending on:

  • Age , Gender, and Race 
  • Family History 
  • Health Status 
  • How Much and How Often You Consume 
  • While drinking in moderation is often not something to be concerned about, drinking in excess can have large effects on the health and wellness of a cadet.
If you choose to drink, the following are some important tools to keep you safe:
  • Eat a meal before you drink (meals with higher protein contents encourage a slower absorption of alcohol in the blood stream). 
  • Pace yourself – drink no more than 1 alcoholic beverage in one hour. Note that a ‘standard drink’ should be measured as: 12 fl oz beer, 1.5 fl oz shot, 5 fl oz glass of wine, 8-9 fl oz of malt liquor) 
  • Alternate drinks with water – whether you drink water while you consume alcohol or you alternate one alcoholic beverage and water, staying hydrated is important. 
  • Set a limit and tell your friends your limit. 
  • Make travel plans to and from the location where you will be drinking. Always have a sober driver or walking buddy. 
  • Go out as a group and make sure to return home with a group, it is a good idea for one member of the group to remain sober throughout the evening.
Did you know?
  • Alcohol enters your bloodstream immediately, and effects can occur within 10 minutes. 
  • As you continue to consume alcohol your BAC level increases, and can continue to increase hours after your last drink. The duration of effect is generally one hour per drink (e.g. if you consume three drinks, you may still be experiencing the effects of those drinks up to 6+ hours later). This is why letting an extremely intoxicated BR ‘sleep it off’ could be a lethal situation. 
  • Caffeine and Alcohol can be particularly dangerous combination. The caffeine seems to override the body’s natural defense system that transmits sleepiness typically associated with alcohol consumption. This delays the feeling of intoxication and therefore encourages the individual to continue drinking well beyond the normal safe limits. 
Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

If you see anyone with these symptoms: call 911 immediately!

Remember "P-U-B-S"

Pulse: Should be between 50-140 beats per minute, not irregular

Unresponsive: doesn't respond to a firm pinch or other attempts to rouse him/her

Breathing: Should be at least 9 breaths per minute, not slow and shallow

Skin: should not be cold, clammy or blue

Identifying a dependency problem.
The route to dependence can be subtle. At times individuals who are developing an addiction may be able to keep their higher than normal substance use from the public eye, even from their close friends, roommates, and BRs. View Chart of Alcohol Dependence.

If someone you know may meet the criteria for an alcohol abuse problem or you have identified a troublesome pattern and you would like to speak with a counselor, call 540-464-7667 to set up a brief consultation with one of our institute counselors.

Go to free online Self-Assessment Tool 
Related Resources

 The website below is a free service collaboration of the Join Together, a project of the partnership for a drug-free America and Boston University School of Public Health. It provides free alcohol screenings and useful information on alcohol use, moderation, health consequences, and alcohol and medication interactions.

Information from the CDC provides facts based on proper studies about the effects of alcohol on health of various subsets of population as well as an overview of topics ranging from binge drinking, underage drinking, and general health concerns.
CDC - Alcohol & Public Health 

This website has a wealth of information specifically geared to college drinking behavior, brought to you by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Specifically information provided focuses on binge drinking and abusive drinking behaviors.
College Drinking - Changing the Culture

Resources concerning Alcohol for College Students as well as Parents:
Facts on Tap - Students
Facts on Tap - Parents Resources 

National Institute of Health's website for helping to understand the impact of alcohol on human health and well-being. 
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 

Not sure how your BAC is calculated specifically for your Body Weight and gender? This website will help you understand your estimated BAC based on your physical characteristics. (Please Note that these estimates are not completely accurate and various factors can affect your BAC such as medications, levels of sleep, caffeine, etc.). This site also provides tips for controlling your BAC, charts, and common misbeliefs. 
Online Blood Alcohol Calculator