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Live Healthy


DCU recognises the place of moderate alcohol consumption and considers it important to support an environment which promotes a sensible attitude towards alcohol. The University also recognises the potential of alcohol abuse and overuse to adversely affect students’ well-being, academic achievement and lifestyle.  Alcohol is by far the most commonly used and abused drug in Ireland.  It is a depressant drug that slows down function of the body both mental and physical.   Alcohol exaggerates mood; if you were feeling down, aggressive or hyper before, this will probably only be magnified once you start drinking.  Adopting sensible drinking and low risk drinking means a healthier and safer campus and learning environment for all students. Here are some of our top tips and support services to improve your health literacy around alcohol.  We would encourage you to use these resources and tools to reflect on your own drinking patterns so you can enjoy the benefits and minimise potential problems.  

 What is a standard drink & recommended weekly guidelines?

The Health Service Executive (HSE) of Ireland has guidelines for a standard drink in Ireland.  A standard drink has about 10 grams of pure alcohol in it.  Here are some examples of a standard drink.

  • A pub measure of spirits (35.5ml)
  • A small glass of wine (12.5% volume)
  • A half pint of normal beer
  • An alcopop (275ml bottle)
  • A bottle of wine at 12.5% alcohol contains about seven standard drinks.

What is a standard drink?

Recommended weekly guidelines

The Health Service Executive has also defined the low risk weekly guidelines for adults as:

  • up to 11 standard drinks in a week for women
  • up to 17 standard drinks in a week for men.

It is important to note that no amount of alcohol is 'safe' and alcohol can be harmful to your physical and mental health.  The HSE recommend that drinks should be spaced out over the week, not consumed in one sitting. Drinking more than the safe levels may cause harm. Rememberdrinks measures are not always the same. What you get in a pub and what you pour for yourself could be very different.  These weekly limits do not apply to teenagers or to people who are pregnant, ill, run-down or on medication.  It is also healthier for teenagers not to drink alcohol.

Sensible Drinking & Strategies for Safety

Here are some tips on how you can drink less alcohol and drink alcohol sensibly*

  • Don’t drink alcohol at home before you go out
  • Buy smaller drinks – have a glass instead of a pint, a single instead of a double
  • Leave your glass down between sips
  • Wait a while before getting another drink
  • Have a glass of water or try some alcohol free beers, larger or cocktails in between alcoholic drinks
  • Occupy yourself – play pool, dance, chat
  • Try not to get into rounds – or if you can’t avoid a round buy yourself a non alcoholic drink when it is your turn
  • Don’t play drinking games
  • Make sure you eat before you drink alcohol
  • Know your limits.  If you are honest, you know the point where you start to lose control, or behave differently because of alcohol.  Your main target should be not to have more than this

*Source: HSE Your Drinking website

 DCU Student Alcohol Policy

The DCU Student Alcohol Policy adheres to the guidelines contained in the National Alcohol Policy (1996) and was formulated and adopted by DCU in 2011.  The policy was reviewed and updated in January 2017 by the DCU REACT Committee.  The abuse of alcohol respects no boundary of gender, status and occupation and the policy applies equally to all students without discrimination.  

The DCU Student Alcohol Policy is available here

Responding to Excessive Alcohol Consumption in Third Level project (REACT)

DCU is part of the National Responding to Excessive Alcohol Consumption in Third Level project (REACT).  The goal of REACT is to deliver an award and accreditation Scheme in the third- level sector that would recognise and reward an institution’s efforts to reduce alcohol-related harm amongst its students.  The scheme has been developed following a rigorous review of previous efforts to reduce excessive alcohol consumption across 3rd level institutions.  It includes a comprehensive range of evidence-based action points which have been designed to tackle harmful drinking amongst students’. In total, the REACT Award has eight mandatory and eighteen optional action points. These action points include training relevant staff in brief intervention, implementing a student alcohol policy and setting up a dedicated REACT steering committee in order to implement the programme. Optional action points include providing alcohol-free accommodation and social spaces for students as well as providing late-night transport to student accommodation.   Thsi project is also supported by a national survey of which over 500 DCU students participated in December 2016.  

 DCU is striving to establish frameworks, good practice and individual and environmental interventions to reduce alcohol related harm among students.  REACT is a joint initiative between the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), the Irish Student Health Association (ISHA), UCC Health Matters and colleges and universities in Ireland.

How to recognise when alcohol becomes a problem

Alcoholism is the dependent relationship of a person to alcohol in expectation of a rewarding experience. Psychological, cultural, religious and social factors may affect both the patterns of alcohol use and the likelihood that alcohol problems will develop. The manner of the development of alcohol dependence varies from person to person in terms of the duration and pattern of alcohol use, the order of the appearance of symptoms, the extent of physical addiction and complications.

Drinking may be a part of student social life. What is important is that each individual recognises how alcohol affects them - as it affects people differently - and takes responsibility for this.  It is also important to recognise the signs of problem drinking in yourself and others.  Some early signs of problem drinking include (Source HSE Your Drinking website

  • drinking faster than everyone else
  • often drinking to cope with problems
  • not being able to stop drinking once you start
  • high tolerance of alcohol – you can drink a lot before you feel drunk
  • memory loss or blackouts
  • needing a drink first thing in the morning to get going
  • secretly doubling up or sneaking drinks
  • feeling guilty after drinking

For more information on the effects of alcohol and who to turn to if you or a friend needs help visit the DCU Counselling & Personal Development website

 On Campus Support Services


Counselling & Personal Development ServiceThis is a professional, confidential and free service, which is available to all registered undergraduate and postgraduate DCU students.
 Alcoholic Anonymous Meetings       Contact the Interfaith Centre for meeting dates here.  
DCU Counselling Service Bibliotherapy  The use of books for therapeutic purposes is known as ‘bibliotherapy’ and is the term used to cover the use of self-help books addressing psychological and emotional issues and difficulties.  DCU has a comprehsive bibliotherapy and a copy of each of the books is available in the DCU Library, Glasnevin Campus for reference.  A full book list is availale here.


Off Campus Supports & Resources


HSE website 
Alcoholics Anonymous
 Alcohol Information and Support