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Substance safety: Think before you drink and set a strategy

A good plan can help you skip a bad trip

Buffs support each other when it comes to drugs and alcohol, whether that means trip sitting or helping earn a six-month chip.
Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post
Buffs support each other when it comes to drugs and alcohol, whether that means trip sitting or helping earn a six-month chip.

University of Colorado students enjoying their freedom in the People’s Republic of Boulder can still strategize about how to imbibe safely (and legally).

Leisha Conners Bauer, CU director of health promotion and the Collegiate Recovery Center, said it’s all about having a plan.

“The thing we like to emphasize is to make a plan: Know where you’re going, know who you’re going with and know what to do if you get separated from your group of friends and how you’re going to get home,” she said.

Whether it’s CU NightRide, a free service for students; a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft; or another form of transportation, students should have a plan to get home.

Students should also keep in mind that 1.5 ounces of liquor, 5 ounces of wine and 12 ounces of beer are each one serving of alcohol; set a limit ahead of time; avoid mixing prescription drugs with alcohol; and know their limits when using marijuana.

They should also alternate drinks with water and eat before they go out, Conners Bauer said.

“There are a lot of different strategies that students can employ, but we try to focus on just a few that students are more likely to do,” she said.

CU police spokesman Scott Pribble provided the gentle reminder that the possession of alcohol and marijuana is illegal on the CU Boulder campus and in the city of Boulder by anyone under the age of 21. Beyond that, regardless of age, and even with a prescription, it’s illegal to have or use marijuana on campus.

Downsides from marijuana use can include driving impairment and memory loss. There can also be compounding effects from being both drunk and high, which can compromise motor skills and reaction time.

Additionally, officials have said, pot use can interfere with learning and academic achievement.

Prescription drugs can also pose problems. These generally fall into two categories, stimulants and other drugs, including barbiturates and depressants.

Provided by the University of Colorado
The University of Colorado made a series of cards to start conversations around Adderall.

On top of negative effects such as irritability and explosiveness, the use of stimulants such as Adderall as a study tool tend to make students overestimate how much they have actually accomplished.

Those using stimulants tend to believe they are achievement-oriented and making progress on assignments when they actually are not, officials have said. Sleep has a big impact on memory, and stimulants can inhibit that dynamic, meaning users don’t learn as much as they believe they do.

As for depressants, combining one — alcohol, for example — with another — such as prescription drugs for depression, anxiety and insomnia — carries another series of risks, death included, through consequences including respiratory failure.

Students who recognize they have a problem can take advantage of on-campus resources to steer them toward recovery.

Conners Bauer said CU strives to provide a continuum of care, from prevention through recovery and support.

CU offers various classes and workshops, as well as services through the Collegiate Recovery Center, where students can get one-on-one support and find supportive community activities, she said.

More information about education and resources is available at

Campus resources

Medical services: Services are available to address substance abuse and dependence, including brief screening and referrals. Wardenburg Health Center, 1900 Wardenburg Drive, on campus; 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, closed Saturday and Sunday; 303-492-5101.

Health promotion: This program aims to foster a community that promotes health and helps students develop the skills they need to make informed choices about health. Services include educational workshops and trainings, early intervention classes, health supplies and nicotine cessation support. Wardenburg Health Center, 1900 Wardenburg Drive, Room 130; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 303-492-2937;

Counseling and psychiatric services: Students are eligible to receive free individual and group counseling targeted toward substance abuse and dependence. Students can also receive free substance abuse assessments and referral services through CAPS. Psychiatric services are located in Wardenburg Health Center on the third floor. Counseling and other services are located in the Center for Community C4C, S352; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; 303-492-2277;

CU Collegiate Recovery Center: The CU Collegiate Recovery Center (CUCRC) provides a home for the sober community on the CU Boulder campus and support for those in recovery from alcohol or drug use and other addictive behaviors. It is open to all who are in recovery or choosing sobriety/abstinence, and to those who are supportive of the recovery community. UMC 102; Those interested in holding a meeting should email or call 303-492-9642;