Sex & Health

Beckman: Controlling alcohol, drug abuse is critical to enjoying Mayfest

Much like abstinence-only sex education, telling college students not to drink or do drugs is pointless. Some will drink more than others, some will do more drugs than others and some will combine the two substances more than anyone else would ever think about doing.

And with Mayfest taking place this Friday, there are going to be a lot of substances floating around the outer Syracuse University area, regardless of whether students are told not to do it.

So instead of saying, “Hey, drugs and alcohol are really bad and will destroy your life,” we should take a more educational approach. A kind of approach that says, “Hey, maybe don’t pop a Molly and take 10 shots.”

Different people have different tolerances. And a lot of how much you can drink depends on how much you’ve eaten that day and how much water you drink along with alcohol. Let’s make the goal when drinking not to go to the hospital, though.

As much fun as it is to get your stomach pumped the week before finals, there are probably more productive ways to turn up. According to WikiHow’s article “How to prevent alcohol poisoning,” avoiding a trip to the hospital really has to do with common sense. One thing WikiHow recommends is drinking a lot of water while you drink alcohol. By drinking water, you dilute the alcohol as it absorbs into your bloodstream so you’re less likely to literally be poisoned.

Last year at Mayfest, I carried around a water bottle that was — plot twist — actually filled with water. Drinking water as you drink alcoholic drinks will keep you hydrated and hopefully keep you out of the hospital. But when you’re taking shots, keep in mind that according the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, having a blood alcohol content of over 0.30 percent is life threatening. Using a BAC calculator to hypothetically calculate a scenario, I found that as a 125-pound woman, taking 10 shots of 80-proof vodka would leave me with a BAC of 0.33 percent. So as they say, drink in moderation.

For some people, though, alcohol is only one part of the Mayfest equation. Obviously people are going to smoke weed, which, although has some health risks associated with it, is not likely going to put you in the hospital or kill you. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the health risks of weed aren’t much more serious than alcohol, with short-term risks include impaired body movement and memory, altered senses and sense of time and changes in mood. It’s the other drugs that you might want to rethink doing, especially if you’re feeling particularly YOLO this Mayfest.

Molly — technically called MDMA — is sometimes considered extremely dangerous and sometimes not. According to, “most of MDMA’s potential harms derive from the setting of its use,” meaning that because the drug is a stimulant, people are more likely to do crazy things, but that an overdose is “extremely rare.” However, there have been a number of high profile overdoses, most recently when 11 students at Wesleyan University were hospitalized for overdosing on Molly.

Cocaine, another stimulant, has a risk of overdose, especially when the user doesn’t know the potency of the drugs they’re taking. Side effects of a cocaine overdose are heart arrhythmia, elevated blood pressure or sudden death.

Reading a column about the dangers of drugs and alcohol probably won’t stop anyone from going hard at Mayfest. But if you take anything away from this, it’s maybe go a little less hard than you would have and think about the fact that getting hospitalized would really suck. Don’t let this Mayfest be your last. Unless you’re graduating, in which case — try and make it to graduation.

Kate Beckman is a sophomore magazine journalism major. Her column appears every week in Pulp. You can reach her at or follow her on Twitter at @Kate_Beckman.


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