Welcome to the University of Miami! The excitement of being a new UM student can last the entire year, a few weeks, a few hours – it’s up to you to choose how your first year will go. During the first few weeks, you will encounter many new experiences and new things: new living arrangements,  new friendships, new classes and coursework, new levels of stress, and many other new opportunities. While your focus may become meeting new people and enjoying yourself, it is also an important time to understand the layout and culture of the University of Miami. It becomes a time to set yourself up to be successful by setting up good study habits, setting a healthy lifestyle and finding balance within your new free time. This will look different for everyone depending on what they have set as priorities, what college and major they are in, and what activities they get involved in. 
  The stress of the first year can add up. We have several resources available on campus that are here to support you in being successful if you need a little advice or guidance: the Counseling Center, your Resident Assistant, your Commuter Assistant, your Transfer Assistant, your First Year Fellow, the Wellness Center, and the Dean of Students Office to name a few.
  As you begin meeting new people, filling your new free time and making decisions, we also wanted to provide a few tips to consider when entering this new adventure. Not all college students are interested in drinking and there are a many activities throughout the day and night, where alcohol is not present. If you choose to drink, here are five strategies to help you.

  1. Pace Yourself. Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcohol drinks. This will help you remain hydrated, remain in control, and enjoy your time. Drinking slowly is the best way to enjoy alcohol and avoid blacking out or passing out.
  2. Know your limits. The standard drink is an alcoholic beverage that has ½ ounce of pure alcohol in it: 12 ounces for a domestic beer; 5 ounces for a glass of wine; 1-1.5 ounces for a shot of hard liquor* some hard liquor contains more alcohol than others. If you tend to become intoxicated quickly, stick with wine or beer. Avoid shots that can lead to blackouts, vomiting and passing out. Drinking games are another good thing to avoid as they make people drink too fast.
  3. Eat a full meal before consuming alcohol. By eating a meal before drinking, the alcohol will be absorbed more slowly, allowing your BAC (blood alcohol content) to remain low, and you to enjoy the buzz. Drinking on an empty stomach can make the BAC increase quickly and lead to passing out and not being able to recall the night. Eating once you have consumed alcohol will have little to no effect (1)
  4. Stay with Friends. Are you making friends or drinking buddies? What is your definition of friendship?  For example, if you go out together, you come back together and do not leave anyone behind. Friends stop one another from doing something they will later regret (2). Friends support you in making safe decisions including the decision to not drink on any particular night.
  5. Know the Signs. Alcohol can have serious affects. Excessive drinking can cause vomiting. There is also the danger of choking on voice if the person is not coherent due to severe intoxication. Even after a person stops drinking and has passed out, the BAC can continue to rise. It is dangerous to assume someone will be fine by sleeping it off. Seek help immediately if you notice continuous vomiting, mental confusion, seizure, unresponsiveness, cold or bluish skin, or slow or irregular breathing. The university has an amnesty policy for those seeking assistance to students who have consumed too much. Don’t worry that the person may become angry or embarrassed; you cared enough to help them out.

  Welcome to your first year at the University of Miami! We hope you have an amazing year, meet exciting people, and enjoy the incredible opportunities offered throughout campus!  PIER 21 is located in the Dean of Students Office on the second floor of the University Center. We are here to support you throughout your time at UM and provide many events and materials on alcohol and other drug education throughout the year. We look forward to seeing you at our events ~ PIER 21

  1. HAM Network. “The College Student’s Guide to Safe Drinking.” http://hamsnetwork.org/students.
  2. Vanderbilt University. “First Year Students.” http://vanderbilt.edu/aclohol.



Pier 21

The Gail S. Posner Substance Abuse Education Fund provides vital resources to:

  • increase peer education counselors to meet student demand
  • support Web-based education, including establishing a personalized online marijuana education program
  • enhance prescription and designer drug education programs
  • further collaboration between substance abuse prevention personnel and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science faculty

Gail Posner’s determination to fight the disease of substance abuse will live on through these efforts and other center programs supported by the Trust.