Welcome to Drinking 101:

Carleton University’s first ever crash course in Responsible Drinking that will help you navigate through freshman year and beyond!

We’ve polled the masses and it’s unanimous across the board; No one actually ‘learns’ how to drink. Most students said they ‘learned from other students that didn’t really know how to drink either’. Well we’re through with accepting that baloney as a reason for not being experts in our field. And we’re through with Carleton students looking like rookie drinkers. Check out our basic ‘lesson plan’ for the best ways to drink without crossing the ‘rookie line’.

What Is A Standard Drink?

Before you can learn to count your drinks and find your personal limit, you need to know what is in a Standard Drink.

infographic displaying what a standard drink should be

If you are having trouble viewing this infographic, please click here for a plain text version.

Now that you know your standard drink sizes, put your virtual bartending skills to the test with this awesome standard drinks challenge from Éduc’alcool.

Screen capture from the Educ'alcool virtual Standard Drinks challenge


And always remember to keep in mind that, on average, alcohol is metabolized at a rate of 1 standard drink per hour.

Binge Drinking

When you consume 5 or more standard drinks in a row within a couple of hours, it is considered binge drinking. Binge Drinking is a bad idea in general because this is how nights that end in hospital visits or physical injuries begin. It’s the behaviour you have to blame for all the “I did what?!” moments after a night of drinking. And it’s also the reason you spent the night with your head in the toilet, and all you can taste the next morning is a bad mix of tequila, shawarma and regret. For those who binge drink to the extreme, there are even worse consequences; you can get alcohol poisoning and die. Don’t binge drink with friends, don’t binge drink alone. Just don’t do it. Ok? Promise?

Blood Alcohol Concentration

You may remember learning about your blood alcohol concentration in high school health class, or from driver’s ed. Your blood alcohol concentration (or BAC for short) is the amount of alcohol in your blood stream. It is expressed as the weight of ethanol (alcohol), measured in grams, in 100 milliliters of blood.

This AWESOME BAC Calculator from Syracuse University’s BE Wise Campaign can help you learn how many drinks you can have before your BAC gets too close to 0.08 (the legal level of intoxication).

The chart below shows you the side effects you can expect to experience based on how high your BAC is.

blood alcohol concentration index

How Do I Drink Without Getting Drunk Super Fast?

Your BAC is affected by your weight, gender, how many drinks you’ve had, and how long you’ve been drinking, but the effects are NOT universal. Many other factors can come into play.

  • Eating food before or during drinking DOES NOT absorb alcohol, but IT DOES slow the rate at which alcohol enters your blood stream. Drinking after eating a meal can result in one third of the BAC compared with drinking on an empty stomach. Eat before you drink!
  • Avoid mixing your alcohol with carbonated beverages which cause alcohol to be absorbed into your blood stream at a faster rate, making you drunk faster.
  • Avoid mixing your alcohol with energy drinks. Mixing with energy drinks often results in students drinking more alcohol, more quickly because energy drinks mask the effects of intoxication, making you feel like you aren’t as drunk as you actually are.
  • Tolerance levels also play a role in how long it will take to feel the negative effects of alcohol. If you do not drink on a regular basis, it is recommended you do not try to keep up with those that do. They will feel tipsy when you feel drunk, and as the night goes on it will only go downhill for you.

Women Get Drunk Faster Than Men?

Yes, you read that correctly. Women are more sensitive to alcohol than men.

If a woman and a man of equal weight drank the same amount of alcohol in the same amount of time, the woman’s BAC would be higher. This is because women have more fat tissue in their bodies than men which causes alcohol to be absorbed more slowly, and the effects of alcohol take longer to wear off. Women also have less water in their bodies to dilute alcohol with, and lower levels of the enzymes that break down alcohol. These factors also contribute to alcohol staying in a women’s system longer. So, while it seems unfair, it’s totally true; women get drunk faster than men.


10 Strategies for Responsible Drinking

So if you read nothing else in this ‘lesson plan’ or on this website in general, we hope you will at least read this section. Consider it the summary on the last page at the end of a chapter in your textbook.

In order to ensure that your drinking stays at a safe level of intoxication, you can implement ANY or ALL of the following strategies:

infographic displaying 10 Responsible Drinking Strategies

If you are having trouble viewing this infographic, please click here for a plain text version.

You can find a great infographic on our What’s Everyone Else Doing? page that shows you how many students at Carleton use these strategies.


You made it to the end of our lesson plan! You should now understand how to drink without making a complete fool out of yourself, or suffering through some brutal hangover mornings. We’re proud of you and we know you won’t embarrass yourself the next time you party.  Cheers! We’ll drink to that.