Alcohol Use in College

Alcohol Use 

College life should include a lot of fun and IT Sligo understands that alcohol can play a role in the college social life.  For some students, moving away from home and participation in a college social life may mean an adjustment in their alcohol intake which can lead to a negative impact on their lives in general and their studies in particular. 


  • Alcohol is a factor in 50% of all suicides in Ireland 
  • 1 in 4 deaths in young men aged 15 to 39 yrs. is due to alcohol, compared to 1 in 12 deaths due to cancer 
  • 1 in 4 men aged 18 to 24 yrs. drink the low-risk weekly guidelines in one sitting 
  • 1 in 5 women aged 18 to 24 yrs. drink the low-risk weekly guidelines in one sitting 
  • Almost 4 in 10 (39%) drinkers binge drink on a typical drinking occasion with over a fifth (24%) doing so at least once a week (Healthy Ireland, 2015)  

What is a Standard Drink? 

10 grams of pure alcohol = Half pint of beer /35.5 pub measure of spirit/A small glass of wine (125ml)/An alcopop (275ml bottle) 

Low-Risk Weekly Guidelines for Adults: 

  • Up to 17 standard alcohol units per week for men 
  • Up to 11 standard alcohol units per week for women 
  • The consumption of alcohol should be spaced out over the week and not consumed in one sitting. Drinking more than the safe levels may cause harm. 

Remember: These weekly limits do not apply to teenagers or to people who are pregnant, ill, run-down, or on certain medications. It is healthier for teenagers not to drink alcohol.  

What is Binge Drinking? 

Binge drinking is 6 or more standard drinks in one sitting. Binge drinking is a form of harmful drinking that is likely to increase the risk of accidents, injuries, violence, and poisoning (HSE, 2016). 

  • 3 pints of beer in one sitting 
  • 6 small glasses of wine per sitting 
  • 6 shots of spirits per sitting 

Alcohol Self-Assessment Tool 

How can excessive alcohol use effect our lives?  

Short-term effects:Disrupted sleep, causes anxiety and stress, causes memory loss and blackouts, contributes to mood changes, causes sweats and shakes, blurred vision, headache, loss of appetite, slower reflexes, impaired judgement, diarrhoea, nausea, bad skin/acne and weight gain. 

Long-term effects: Alcohol dependency, high blood pressure, liver disease, specific cancers, mental health issues, sexual health problems, heart disease, stomach ulcers, osteoporosis, pancreatitis, stroke and dementia 

However, there are many ways to ensure your consumption of alcohol does not get out of control and impact on your college life and experience. It is therefore important to assess what your relationship with alcohol is.   

You can use the HSE Alcohol Self-Assessment Tool at to identify what type of drinker you are and the impact of your drinking.  

Whatever you drink, you can find out what it’s doing to your health on 

If as a result of taking this survey, or just generally, you have concerns about your alcohol consumption, there are a number of supports available within IT Sligo and the wider society to help you build a better relationship with alcohol. The name and contact details of these resources can be found at the bottom of this page. 

Differences in Types of Drinkers 

Social drinkers are those who enjoy and get pleasure from consumption of alcohol. The key to their pattern of consumption are choice and balance. The state they desire is relaxation, with a little release of inhibition. These types of drinkers will not consume alcohol when they encounter stress in life or if they need to give optimal performance. 

Habitual drinkers may misuse alcohol to achieve a quick state of relaxation. They may not view it as a way of achieving emotional change. Their drink consumption can impact on their ability to drive, work and even their personal relationships. 

Benefits of Reducing your Alcohol Intake 

Improved Mental Health 

Alcohol can play a role in the development of mental health issues and can make existing problems worse. Taking alcohol when you are anxious or stressed to improve your mood, can have the opposite effect. If you often feel low after drinking, try to reduce your alcohol intake, and keep a diary to track any changes in how you feel. 

Better Long-Term Physical Health. 

Cutting down on the amount of alcohol you drink will reduce your risk of developing serious health issues such as cancer, liver, or heart disease. 

Improved Appearance 

Alcohol has a high calorie content, therefore regularly drinking alcohol increases your calorie intake. A pint of beer that is 4.5% alcohol contains 210 calories so drinking five pints will add over 1,000 calories to your caloric intake. Alcohol also dehydrates the body which can leave your skin looking dull. Cutting down on your alcohol intake can help you maintain a healthy weight and appearance. 

Improved Energy levels 

Alcohol can affect your sleeping patterns, resulting in you having less energy. By reducing how much, and how often you consume alcohol, you will see a significant difference in your energy levels. 

Saves Money 

Nights out are costly especially as a student. Cutting down on drinking alcohol saves money. 

Audit your Alcohol Intake: AuditScreeningTool 


Alcoholism is the dependent relationship of a person on alcohol in expectation of a rewarding experience. Social factors and psychological factors may affect the development of alcohol problems. This dependence can vary from person to person in terms of the duration, the pattern of alcohol use, appearance of symptoms, and physical addictions. 

When does alcohol become a problem? 

A crucial part of developing a harmful dependence is that the person begins to accept regular heavy drinking, even if the person has never had issues with alcohol before. This can be triggered by excessive use of alcohol in the face of stress and difficult times. 

Symptoms of Alcohol Dependence 

Elevated Tolerance: the person has seemingly normal functioning after what would be a highly toxic amount of alcohol for a non-drinker. There is a need to increase the amount of alcohol for the desired effect. 

Blackouts; temporary memory loss due to excessive alcohol consumption. This may happen on a regular basis. 

Euphoric Recall; comes from the initial relaxing feeling during consumption of alcohol. It provides enjoyment despite the negative consequences it causes. 

Loss of Choice; increased tolerance and an emotional compulsion leads to the loss of choice and control over alcohol consumption. 


Social Effects of Alcoholism 

  • Falling out with friends or family, 
  • Risk of losing your job, 
  • Increased risk of health risk behaviours such as drink driving, 
  • Risk of inappropriate sexual behaviours or unwanted sexual behaviour, 
  • Increased risk of family issues such as marital break-up, domestic violence, 
  • Financial issues, 
  • Increased incidents of being part of violent crime. 

IT Sligo Alcohol Policy

IT Sligo has developed an Alcohol Policy which outlines the ethos of the college in relation to the welfare of students; the purpose of the policy is to proactively raise awareness of the consequences related to the harmful use of alcohol in order to prevent ill-effects to students and those around them.

The Policy aims to:

  1. Prevent harm and possible consequences to students of IT Sligo in relation to alcohol misuse and alcohol dependence,
  2. Raise Awareness of alcohol related issues and encourage the participation of all institute members in implementing the alcohol policy,
  3. Provide supportive services to those who may require assistance during their time at IT Sligo,
  4. Promote and support healthy lifestyle choices and alternatives to alcohol use and availability within IT Sligo.

IT Sligo believes in an integrated approach, with policy measures that encourage those who consume alcohol to treat alcohol with due regard for its effects and to moderate their consumption. Students must take personal responsibility for their alcohol consumption habits and consequences if excess alcohol consumption occurs.

Our Policy measures include:

  1. Promoting an increased awareness and education throughout the academic year regarding safe alcohol use e.g. through completion of the HSE Alcohol Self-Assessment Tool.
  2. Encourage alternative choices to alcohol,
  3. Provide access to support services on and off the campus,
  4. Monitor alcohol marketing, promotions, and sponsorship on campus grounds and within clubs and societies.
  5. I.T. Sligo Alcohol Policy

Substance and Drug Misuse

College years can be the most exciting time of your life; involving a new social scene, new friends, new night life etc. This new life can sometimes expose you to a range of substances. Peer pressure to fit in can be a factor in your decision to take drugs or not. It is important to know the facts about these substances.

Drug Self-Assessment Tool

Occasional use of such substances can slowly turn into addiction, which can become a very serious problem for individuals and those who are directly connected to the person. You can use the Drug Use Self-Assessment Tool at to understand more about your drug use and gain personal feedback on your responses.

If as a result of taking this survey, or just generally, you have concerns about your alcohol consumption, there are a number of supports available. The name and contact details of these resources can be found at the bottom of this page.

Commonly used Drugs

  • Cannabis
  • Hash
  • Marijuana
  • Grass
  • Weed
  • Pot
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy
  • LSD
  • Magic Mushrooms
  • Amphetamine
  • Tranquilisers
  • Nitrites
  • Solvents and Aerosols

Impact of Drug Misuse

Misuse of Drugs and Substances can impact on;

  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • Academic performance
  • Relationships
  • Mood
  • Wellbeing

Drugs and Mental Health

Most people take drugs to enhance their mood (to get “a buzz”). In doing so they are also altering necessary chemicals that flow in the brain. This can be dangerous to that person’s mental health, both immediate and in the future. Long term use of Cannabis & Marijuana, for example, can lead to severe depression. Particularly if there is a tendency to suffer from depression or have a family history of the same. Continued use of these drugs may have a role in precipitating the onset of Schizophrenia, a very serious mental illness with extremely heightened levels of paranoia. Other effects of psychoactive drugs include delusions, panic attacks, even permanent brain damage or, at its most extreme, death.

Drugs such a Cannabis, Alcohol and Ecstasy have the ability to affect your mood. The changes in your mood are caused by the interference of the drug in the chemical balance in your brain


Short term effects of drugs on mental health

All psychoactive drugs can cause the following mental health issues when you take them and as you clear them from your system:

  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Psychosis

Drug Induced Anxiety Disorder

This may include;

  • Moments of severe anxiety where you may find your heart rate rapidly increasing
  • Panic attacks
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweats
  • Trembling
  • A fear of loss of control

Drug Induced Psychosis

This may include;

  • Delusions; where you believe things that are not true
  • Hallucinations; seeing or hearing things that are not there

Drug Induced Mood Disorder

Generally caused by drugs such as Cocaine, Heroin, Methadone, Amphetamines. This may involve feelings of the following:

  • Depression
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness
  • Delusions
  • Loss of pleasure
  • Impulsive behaviour


Where can I get help for my alcohol or drug use?

On Campus Supports 

Being Well, Living Well Toolkit 

The Being Well Living Well Toolkit is an interactive, online toolkit that takes a positive, preventative approach to help students maintain their mental, physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing. The toolkit can be found on the IT Sligo Student Counselling Service website and includes a ‘Staying Safe’ section which aims to help you make healthy and informed decisions about alcohol and drug use. It is free to all registered IT Sligo students and can be accessed at the below link: 

Student Counselling Service

The Counselling Service operates on an appointment basis (virtual appointments only at present). If you would like to make an appointment, please contact the service by:



Student Health Service

The Medical Service operates on an appointment basis. If you would like to make an appointment:



The Pastoral Care Service

Students are always welcome to drop into the office or can make an appointment.  Remember you don’t have to be on the camps to make contact.

Location: First floor of the Student Services Centre beside the Careers Office, above the Student’s Union and the Health Service.

Phone: 071-9305215 / 085-8590471


Off Campus Supports 

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a Twelve Step Fellowship dedicated to helping anyone suffering because of their drinking. Through mutual support, the AA aims to help its members achieve and maintain sobriety. There are no membership fees.

Phone: 01 842 0700



HSE Drugs & Alcohol Helpline 

The HSE Drugs and Alcohol Helpline is a free and confidential, active listening helpline and email support service offering non-directive support, information, guidance, and referral to anyone with a question or concern related to substance use.

Freephone: 1800 459 459


HSE Alcohol and Substance Misuse Counselling Service 

The HSE Alcohol and Substance Misuse Counselling Service provide assessment, treatment, support, aftercare, for individuals whose lives are affected by alcohol, illicit drugs, prescribed and over the counter medications  for people resident in Sligo, Leitrim, South Donegal and West Cavan.  Appointments are offered within community locations across the catchment area.

Phone: 071 914 3316


North West Regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force

The North West Regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force can support you by pointing you in the right direction and telling you about the support services that may benefit you.

Phone: 071 9194556 / 087 1953984;




Al-Anon is a support group for people affected by someone else’s drinking, be it a friend or a family member. The Al-Anon Confidential Helpline operates from 10am-10pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Helpline: 01 873 2699


Useful Links:


Drug & Alcohol Information

Drug Task Force