With the start of Fall in Athens, we all play an active role in keeping our community safe. As a part of a caring community we all need to adhere to CDC Safety and social distancing standards.

students canoeing at UGA's Lake Herrick

With the potential of our friends and support systems being more centrally located, we may feel excited to hang out and socialize with others. Finding meaningful ways to engage with others to support well-being is important. Check out these tips for navigating social gatherings and activities:

Social Activities

Looking for things to do? UGA and Athens have so many things to offer! Whether it’s a socially distanced gathering outside on North Campus, a picture by the Arch, relaxing on Herty field, going to the Athens Farmer’s Market, kayaking at a local lake, walking the trails at a park, getting takeout from a local restaurant, finding the UGA bulldogs around town, or exploring the Athens murals, there are a lot of ways to engage in fun adventures around town in a socially distanced manner. Looking for more adventures? Check out the Fontaine Center’s UGA and Athens Bucket list to find things to do depending on current openings and with safety measures in mind.

Not in Athens? Consider activities in your hometown that can allow you to engage in similar socially distanced activities. Go for a walk in the park, have a picnic, get some sun, try takeout from a new restaurant, or call a friend to chat.

Social Gatherings

Although a majority of our students choose not to use alcohol or other drugs, if someone finds themselves in an environment where alcohol and other drugs are present, understanding how these substances can impact individuals is important.

Things to consider:

  1. At minimum, gather in a space where everyone is able to maintain 6 feet between individuals and wear a face covering.
  2. Avoid sharing cups or other items that involve contact with someone’s mouth or other body parts including hands, nose, or eyes.
  3. Limit alcohol, tobacco & vaping, and cannabis products. They can lower immune system functioning, interrupt sleep cycles, and impact physical and emotional well-being.
  4. Remember, viruses can impact the respiratory system, so inhaling smoke or aerosols can increase a person’s risk of respiratory infections.

Reducing risk of negative effects from substances:

During periods of no alcohol or other substance use or use in a different environment a person’s tolerance decreases. This means someone will generally feel greater effects of the alcohol or substance with a smaller amount consumed.

  1. Remember to go slow, pace, and set a limit
  2. Stick to one standard drink at a time and measure out standard serving sizes
  3. Drink water to keep hydrated and eat a balanced meal (carbs, proteins, and fats)


If using a ride-share option, riding with a friend, or using public transportation keep the following in mind:

  1. Avoid touching surfaces frequently contacted by passengers or drivers like handles, windows, door frames, and other vehicle parts. When contact may be unavoidable, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol afterwards.
  2. Avoid accepting items offered for free to passengers such as water bottles or magazines.
  3. Use touchless payment when available.
  4. Limit the number of passengers in the vehicle to only those necessary.
  5. Avoid pooled rides or rides where multiple people are picked up who are not in the same household.
  6. Sit in the back seat in larger vehicles like vans and buses to remain at least six feet from the driver.
  7. Improve ventilation in the vehicle when possible by asking the driver to open windows or setting the air ventilation/air conditioning on non-recirculate mode.

Remember to practice hand hygiene by using a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol after leaving a vehicle and wash your hands  with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you arrive at your destination.

Check out more information on transportation recommendations from the CDC

Medical Emergencies:

Depending on someone’s intoxication level from alcohol or other drugs they may need medical attention. Here are things to look for:

Alcohol poisoning – If someone is experiencing any ONE of the following signs/symptoms they need medical attention.

  • Vomiting while passed out
  • Slowed breathing (10 or fewer breaths a minute)
  • Pale/blue lips or fingertips
  • Slow heart rate
  • Unresponsive
  • Eyes roll back in the head

If a person is going to check for someone’s pulse, count how many times someone is breathing, or turn them on their side, it is critical to get medical attention in these situations. Do not leave them alone to sleep it off or wait to get help since their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) can continue to rise. If EMS is called when they arrive, if needed, they can start lifesaving procedures right away. Medical Amnesty and Responsible Action Protocol are in place to ensure all UGA students can get the help they need even if under 21.

Greening out – the felt effects from over or potent cannabis consumption. Effects can include:

  • Paranoia, hallucinations, increased heart rate, being out of touch with reality (psychosis), mental confusion, feelings of anxiety, panic attacks, nausea, vomiting, feeling faint, dizziness, and/or worsening seizures.

*It is important to note if 911 is called, EMS will be accompanied by PD to ensure that EMS is able to navigate to the individual(s) who need medical attention.

Looking for Support

The Fontaine Center is available to help with needs related to Alcohol and Other Drugs. Feel free to call the Fontaine Center (706-542-8690) and schedule a free virtual check-in, or ask to speak with one of our trained Alcohol and Other Drug Counselors or Educators.

Written by: Liana Natochy, Alcohol and Other Drugs Education Coordinator, The Fontaine Center / UHC Health Promotion