The Alcohol & Drug Education Program provides opportunities for students to receive appropriate support, reflect on current choices, and learn about strategies for making lower-risk choices around substance use at Boston College. 

Key Messages

Understand: how substances work, the effects on your wellbeing, the alternative options for using.

Reflect and Respect: yours and other reasons for using or not using; our choices impact the community

Plan: if you choose to use, practice safer use to reduce harm

Check-in: With yourself and others, access and offer support

Take A Closer Look


Educating yourself on the potential effects of drugs and alcohol can help keep you—and your friends—safe. Click on each topic to learn more. 

Know Your BAC

What is BAC and how do you calculate it? 

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is the amount of alcohol present in your blood as you drink. Keep in mind that your body processes alcohol at a constant rate of .5 oz per hour, regardless of how many ounces you consume. Therefore, the faster you drink, the higher your blood alcohol level will be.  

12 oz of beer = 1 drink

5 oz of wine = 1 drink 

.1.5 oz of liquor = 1 drink 

Track your BAC by downloading the app or (for Android).

* BC has purchased a subscription to this app in order to make it free for all members of our community. By providing your BC credentials you will have access to the app for free as well as campus resources. The information you enter is not shared with BC.

The Effects of BAC

For non tolerant drinkers, the relationship between BAC and the effects experienced is predictable, as shown in the chart below. At low to moderate BACs (.02-.07), the effects of alcohol are mainly pleasant, although some impairment is present. As BAC increases, the effects of alcohol become progressively more unpleasant and dangerous. 

BACPredictable Effects
.02%-.04%Lightheaded: Relaxation, sensation of warmth, "high," minor impairment of judgment 
.05%-.07%Buzzed: Relaxation, euphoria, lower inhibitions, minor impairment of reasoning and memory, exaggerated emotions (good and bad) 
.08%-.10%Legally Impaired: Euphoria, fatigue, impairment in balance, speech, vision, reaction time and hearing, judgment, and self-control are impaired 
.11%-.15%Drunk: "High" reduced and depressive effects (anxiety, depression, or unease) more pronounced, gross motor impairment, judgment and perception severely impaired 
.16%-.19%Very Drunk: Strong state of depression, nausea, disorientation, dizzy, increased motor impairment, blurred vision, judgment further impaired 
.20%-.24%Dazed and Confused: Gross disorientation to time and place, increased nausea and vomiting, may need assistance to stand/walk, impervious to pain, blackout likely 
.25%-.30%Stupor: All mental, physical, and sensory functions are severely impaired, accidents very likely, little comprehension, may pass out suddenly 
.31% and up Coma: Level of surgical amnesia, onset of coma, possibility of acute alcohol poisoning, death due to respiratory arrest is likely in 50 percent of drinkers 

About Tolerance

A drinker who has tolerance to alcohol needs a higher BAC than a non tolerant drinker to expereince the same effects shown in the chart. If your BAC has to be higher than shown above to experience the same effects, you are probably tolerant to alcohol. Alcohol tolerance is dangerous because physical damage and impairment are occurring without your knowledge.  

Adopted from CHOICES, 2010. The Change Companies, Marlatt & Parks 


How cigarettes affect the body: watch video 

There are many known health risks clearly linked to tobacco use. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, and 69 of them are known carcinogens – substances that can cause cancer in living tissues.

Smoking cigarettes harms almost every organ in our bodies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Known health risks of smoking and tobacco use include:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Lung cancer, emphysema and bronchitis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Many other forms of cancer

One of every three deaths by cancer in the U.S. could be prevented by quitting smoking. Cigarette smoking is the primary cause of more than 480,000 deaths each year in the U.S. – that’s the entire metropolitan population of cities such as Long Beach, Atlanta, Miami, Oakland or Cleveland. It’s also the cause of more preventable deaths than combined deaths attributed to HIV, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, motor vehicle accidents and firearms.


Smokeless doesn’t mean it’s safe. Chew (sometimes called dip) causes many forms of cancer, the American Cancer Society reports. Chew users are exposed to as many as 30 carcinogenic chemicals. Health risks include cancer of the mouth, tongue, cheek and gums, esophagus and pancreas, as well as high blood pressure, heart disease and increased risk of stroke. 

One can of chew can contain as much nicotine as 80 cigarettes, the National Spit Tobacco Education Program reports. 

There are huge rewards for quitting including a four to seven time decrease in risk of developing oral cancers, and decreased instances of receding gum line, gingivitis, and pre-cancerous lesions of the mouth.


Center for Student Wellness: Gasson Hall 013 |  | 617-552-9900 |

  • Information and resources on website
  • 1:1 wellness coaching sessions to explore use
  • Individual smoking cessation coaching sessions
  • Smoking cessation groups

University Health Services: 2150 Commonwealth Avenue | 617-552-3225

UHS is available for brief counseling  and advice on medications that can be used to help with nicotine dependence. Please make an appointment with Dr. Scott Jusseaume.

Massachusetts Smokers Helpline: Free, confidential telephone information,referral and counseling 1-800 TRY TO STOP(879-8678)

QuitWorks: Members of Boston College are eligible for free, telephone-based coaching sessions to quit smoking, vaping, or using nicotine products. They can also receive a free supply of tobacco-treatment medication (gum, patches, or lozenges). For details and to enroll, visit Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program (MTCP).



Alcohol Poisoning

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning 

If you notice someone experiencing any of these signs or symptoms it is imperative to get medical attention right away. 

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning include: 

  • A person is passed out and cannot be awakened
  • A person has cold, clammy, or bluish skin color
  • A person has slow or irregular breaths that are less than eight breaths per minute OR more than 10 seconds in between breaths 
  • A person is vomiting and does not wake up 

If you are concerned, always call for help! 

BCPD: 617-552-4444

Health Services: 617-552-3225

Your health and safety is important to us. If you see someone exhibiting these signs, please get help! Or, if you feel you need help, get it! 

In situations where students receive assistance due to alcohol intoxication or drug ingestion, we support and encourage this help-seeking behavior by treating it as a healthy and safety matter, not as a conduct matter. Don't avoid seeking help because you're afraid of getting yourself or someone else in trouble. Both you and the person you call for are covered by the help-seeking policy. It's more important to us that you are safe. 

Read the full policy:

When is it problem drinking?

Do You Have a Problem? 

Moderate Drinkers Typically:

  • Drink slowly (no fast gulping) 
  • Know when to stop drinking (do not drink to get drunk) 
  • Eat before or while drinking 
  • Never drive after drinking 
  • Respect nondrinkers 
  • Know and obey laws related to drinking 

Problem Drinkers:*

  • Frequently drink to get drunk 
  • Try to "solve" problems by drinking 
  • Experience personality changes—may become loud, angry, violent OR silent, remote, reclusive 
  • Drink when they should not—before driving or going to class/work 
  • Cause other problems—harm themselves, family, friends or strangers 

People Addicted to Alcohol Typically:*

  • Spend a lot of time thinking about drinking and plannign where and when to get the next drink 
  • Keep bottles hidden for quick pick-me-ups
  • Start drinking without conscious planning and lose awareness of the amount consumed 
  • Deny drinking 
  • Often drink alone 
  • Feel they need to drink before facing a stressful situation 
  • May have "blackouts" - cannot remember what they did while drinking although they may have appeared "normal" to people at the time 
  • Miss work or skip class as a result of hangovers or choosing to drink 
  • Go from having hangovers to more dangerous withdrawal symptoms such as delirium tremors ("DTs"), which can be fatal 
  • Have or cause major problems with police, employer, family or friends 

*If you have experienced any of the symptoms in the last two categories, it may be time to ask for some help with your drinking. 

Here are some resources for help: 

Alcohol and Drug Education Program 
Gasson 013

Center for Student Wellness
Gasson 025

University Counseling Services 
Gasson 001

University Health Services 
2150 Commonwealth Avenue 

Alcoholics Anonymous 

Alcohol Screening  
Online Alcohol Screening


Low-Risk Strategies

Minimize Your Risk

  1. Keep track of how much you drink by counting "standard drinks"
  2. Set a drinking limit near or below a BAC of .05
  3. Use a buddy system and have a plan in mind before attending an event
  4. Avoid using alcohol with any prescription or stimulant drugs
  5. Space your drinks over time
  6. Never leave drinks unattended
  7. Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
  8. Eat before and while you are drinking
  9. Be cautious when drinking liquor or mixed drinks due to their potency
  10. Mix and measure your own drinks

*Drinking alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal and against campus policy. Please keep in mind that consuming alcohol under 21 is a high-risk choice. If you choose to drink, the strategies above can help you stay safe.


The Effects of Cannabis

The active chemical in cannabis is tetrahydro-cannabinol, commonly known as THC. Cannabis can be categorized as a depressant, a hallucinogen, or a stimulant. As a result, it is difficult to detect how one will react after using.

Cannabis use can affect: 

  • Concentration

  • Short and long term memory

  • Ability to learn

  • Alertness

  • Coordination

  • Sleep (interrupts REM for several days after use)

New research suggests that cannabis effects can last up to three days

Other considerations:

  • Heavy cannabis users may experience higher deficits in these areas 

  • It can take longer for the adolescent (15-19) brain to recover from the deficits of cannabis use

  • For those predisposed to developing a mental illness, cannabis can lead to increased anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia 

  • Although individuals may report a decrease in anxiety and depression as a result of using cannabis in the short term, it still has the potential to become worse with long-term use and ultimately be used as a coping mechanism for managing anxiety and depression.

  • Heavy cannabis use can lead to dependence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that 30% of cannabis users may have some degree of cannabis use disorder.

  • Withdrawal symptoms may include irritability, sleepiness, anxiety, decreased appetite, and cravings for cannabis. These symptoms begin the first day of abstinence, peak on day 2-3, and substide 1-2 weeks after last use.



Prescription Drugs

Prescription Drug Risks

The misuse of prescription drugs includes:

  • Using higher doses or more frequently than prescribed
  • Taking medication prescribed to someone else
  • Alternating the delivery of the medication (e.g. crushing and snorting)
  • Using a prescription medication to get high
 ExamplesMethod of ActionPotential Effects of Misuse
StimulantsAdderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Focalin, Dexedrine, medications prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Energy drinks are also categorized as stimulants because they contain substances that are intended to produce the effects of a stimulant.Increases alertness, attention and energy, elevates blood pressure, increases heart rate and respiration
  • Repeated use over a short period of time can lead to feelings of hostility and/or paranoia
  • High doses can result in dangerously high body temperature and irregular heartbeat
  • Can become dependant
  • If using chronically, can experience withdrawal symptoms including fatigue, depression, and disrupted sleeping patterns when you stop using
Central Nervous System (CNS) DepressantsValium and Xanax. Sometimes referred to as sedatives and tranquilizers.  Used for treatment of anxiety and sleep disordersSlow down the brain’s activity. Produces a drowsy or calming feeling.
  • Can experience withdrawals and physical dependance if use is reduced or abruptly stopped
  • If an individual stops using after continued use, brain activity can race out of control, potentially leading to seizures and other harmful effects
  • Combining CNS depressants and alcohol can affect heart rhythm, cause slow respiration and can lead to death
OpioidsCodeine, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, Percocet.  Prescription narcotics prescribed for post surgical pain relief and management of acute and chronic pain.Attach to receptors in the brain that block the perception of pain
  • Can produce drowsiness and cause severe respiratory depression
  • Can experience euphoric effects from use.  This is intensified for individuals who abuse opioids
  • Misuse can lead to dependence and addiction
  • Withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes



Understand How Vaping Works:

Watch Video

E-Cigarettes do not just release vapor.

This vapor contains nicotine, metals, and toxins found in second-hand smoke

While e-cigarettes do contain fewer chemicals than cigarettes, they still contain some of the same chemicals, such as formaldehyde.

Vaping liquids and aerosol can contain greater levels of metals than cigarettes.

Harmful ingredients include:

  • ultrafine particles that can be inhaled into the lungs
  • flavorants such as diacetyl, which is linked to serious lung disease
  • volatile organic compounds
  • heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead
  • Brain development occurs throughout early life into adolescence, to about age 25. 
  • Nicotine exposure, including use or passive smoking, can lead to addiction or can affect brain development.

Resources for more information:

University Health Services: 2150 Commonwealth Avenue | 617-552-3225
UHS is available for brief counselling visits about vaping and advice on medications that can be used to help with nicotine dependence. Please make an appointment with Dr. Scott Jusseaume.

Center for Student Wellness: Judy Oxford, Associate Director | | Online resources through Alcohol and Drug Education Office website | Gasson 013 | 617-552-9900

My Life, My Quit™: Text "Start My Quit" to 855-891-9989 or call toll-free 1-855-891-9989,

This is Quitting: text “VapeFreeMass” to 88709 | Flyer |

CDC and Other Government Agencies: provide “the bottom line” on vaping through online resources