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Substance Abuse Prevention


What is low-risking alcohol consumption?

Simply, any consumption of alcohol that isn't high-risk; sound simple? We know it's not, but there are a few easy guidelines to help understand what constitutes low-risk versus high-risk alcohol use. As NDSU's Policy Section 155 suggests, low-risk use of alcohol may vary due to certain individual and situational considerations. Though not exhaustive, we provide the following low-risk guidelines for two populations: Young adults under 21 years of age and those 21 years or older.

Questions? Email us at


Individuals 20 years old or younger

It is against the law for individuals under the age of 21 to consume or procure alcohol. The North Dakota Century Code provides extensive details on this minimum legal drinking age. It makes sense then that we consider any alcohol consumption by individuals < 21 years-old high-risk. We realize that some underage individuals choose to drink. However, the CDC provides plenty of evidence illustrating the alcohol-related harm of underage drinking. Individuals need to consider the potential costs to their drinking-related choices as there are negative consequences that may impact themselves and the people in their communities.

For NDSU, it's also a question of student success. Our Before One More campaign calls to both underage and "of age" students on our campus to consider how their beliefs and choices about alcohol consumption may impact their lives as well as those in the communities they live, study, and work in. For underage students, one drink is one too many. This can be true for certain individuals who are "of age" as well. Read on for low-risk guidelines for individuals 21+ years old.


Questions? Email

Individuals 21-years-old and up

Consuming  alcohol is never "risk-free," but excessive drinking can substantially increase a person's risk for alcohol-related harm. Binge drinking and heavy drinking are two examples of this kind of high-risk consumption. The CDC gives us some guidelines for what they call Moderate Drinking that can help adults >21 years old who choose to legally consume, do so responsibly.


Ways to support low-risk drinking choices

Here are things to know if you're hosting an event or social where people will be making alcohol consumption choices:

- NDSU is a dry campus and but also has requirements for NDSU-affiliated events taking place off-campus. See NDSU Policy Section 155 for details.

- Know the law. Even if you're "of age," you may be held responsible for underage individuals consuming alcohol under your watch.

- Actively promote and support ways for individuals to make low-risk choices regarding alcohol consumption. For more information or to discuss specific ways to promote low-risk choices about alcohol, contact us at

Review: Remember there are three broad ways to make low-risk alcohol consumption choices:

1) Don't drink alcohol! It's always a valid and commendable choice. If you're younger than 21, it's the default choice. 

2) IF you choose to consume alcohol, do it moderately.

3) Never operate a motor vehicle under the influence of any amount of alcohol.





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North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-5478
Campus address: West Dining Center Lower Level
Physical/delivery address: 1340 Administration Ave., Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address: NDSU Dept. 5260 / PO Box 6050 / Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Page manager: Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention Programs

Last Updated: Monday, September 12, 2016 10:31:38 AM
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