WHEN JOHNNY WALKER STOPS WALKING AND STELLA ISN’T SO STELLAR

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By Alex Hamlyn

“To alcohol: the cause of — and solution to — all of life’s problems.”  — Homer J. Simpson

Drinking certainly seems like a prerequisite to having fun for anyone between the ages of 16 and 25.

Combine that with a strong metabolism and that youthful feeling of invincibility, and it hardly seems like there’s any downside at all. Unfortunately, the reality is that heavy drinking can lead to long-term health issues, and more immediately, the possibility of alcohol poisoning.

You might think that only happens to crazy people who drink rubbing alcohol. In fact, more than 1,000 North American university students die every year from alcohol poisoning, and tens of thousands more suffer permanent or serious injuries due to extremely heavy alcohol intake. So before you go gallivanting around frosh activities wearing a T-shirt that says “Beer Me” and a funnel taped to your mouth, take some precautions.

Eat a good sized meal before drinking heavily, break up drinks with glasses of water, drink slowly (don’t just chug nonstop) and be smart. Don’t let people pressure you into drinking too much.

Of course, even with all this in mind, you could still find yourself heavily intoxicated, or having to deal with a friend who seems dangerously drunk. Never be afraid to call 911 and ask for help if you think someone’s life is at stake. Watch out for serious confusion and drowsiness, vomiting, seizures, overly slow or irregular breathing and skin that’s cold to the touch, bluish or overly pale.

Someone can be seriously ill before all the symptoms are present. Try to keep the person awake, do not leave them alone, try to get them to drink water and, most importantly, do not try to induce vomiting.

A common misconception is that puking will clean the system — but it’s possible for the person to choke on their vomit or fatally damage their lungs. Make sure any medical personnel are aware of how much alcohol has been consumed and how long someone has been sick.

Moderation is the key. Be smart and don’t let yourself become a statistic just so you can look cool.

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