Read: College Students and Alcohol Use

As a student at UCSC, your life extends beyond the classroom. Learning to make healthy decisions, including whether or not to use substances like alcohol, caffeine, tobacco and marijuana is just one of the challenges you will face. These website pages contain extensive information on many types of drugs and provide specific facts about each drug, how it is used and what risks are associated with its use. There is also information on how to help a friend, resources at UCSC and in Santa Cruz, and links to learn more.

These pages are written with the following principles in mind:

There are risks involved with any drug use, including alcohol.

Most people who choose to experiment with drugs realize there are health risks involved, but they often don't know what all of those risks are. Many people don't realize that a person's blood alcohol concentration can increase for several hours after drinking, putting them at risk for alcohol poisoning. Alcohol and other drug use increase the risk of being injured; experiencing unwanted sexual activity and having academic problems. There are also legal and disciplinary consequences for underage drinking and illegal drug use.

You can make safer choices with more accurate information.

If you choose to use drugs or alcohol, you can make safer choices. The information provided on this site can help with that decision-making process.

Respect the rights of people who do not use alcohol or drugs.

Many students on campus do not drink alcohol or use other drugs. People abstain for many reasons, including religious beliefs, personal experiences, family history and legal consequences.

Get help.

Take care of each other. If someone is seriously intoxicated and you need help dealing with them, you can call UCSC Police Dispatch at 831-459-2231 or you can always call 911.


Drinking in college is not a given. It doesn't have to be a rite of passage. The stereotype of heavy drinking in college is not reality for most UCSC students. Most UCSC students don't drink or drink at very moderate levels:

  • 45% of UCSC students describe themselves as abstainers, infrequent drinkers or light drinkers.
  • Of UCSC students who drink, 65% have only 1-4 drinks when they go out.
  • 98% of UCSC students reported usually doing or always doing one or more protective behaviors (e.g., alternate non-alcoholic with alcoholic beverages, use a designated driver, eat before and/or during drinking) while drinking.

(Source: 2019 survey of UCSC students as part of the National Collegiate Health Assessment)

Understanding what alcohol does to your body and the risks associated with alcohol use can help you in many ways:

  • You can make a more informed decision about whether or not to drink.
  • You can recognize the warning signs of dangerous intoxication and call EMS for a friend.
  • You can reduce the risks associated with using alcohol, including injury, unwanted sex and being a victim of crime.
  • If you choose to drink, you can make safer decisions about drinking.
  • You can get help for yourself or for a friend.