Just about wherever you go in the United States and abroad, you’ll find people drinking. Alcohol is by far the most popular recreational drug in the U.S. – so popular, in fact, that most of us don’t really think of it as a “drug” at all. We sip wine during play intermissions, drink beer at baseball games, take shots at bars and clubs, and unwind with drinks in our living rooms after work. It’s all perfectly innocent (or, at least, most of it is), but it is important to remember that alcohol really is a drug – and a dangerous one, if used improperly.
That’s why it’s so important to remember to drink safely. For most of us, this is an achievable goal. But we always need to keep the basic rules of drinking safely in mind.
First things first: drinking safely isn’t possible for everyone
Before we get started, it’s extremely important to note that not everyone is capable of drinking safely. If you have an alcohol abuse problem, most experts agree that your best course of action is to stop drinking entirely – drinking in moderation, unfortunately, is not something that most alcoholics can reliably do. If this describes your drinking problem, then please seek help. It’s not too late to take back control of your life, repair your health, and begin to rebuild your personal relationships. Turn to professionals who specialize in mental health issues and substance abuse, and check yourself into a rehab center. From Florida’s Beachside Rehab to countless others in the mountains, on the coasts, and even near cities, it won’t be hard to find a rehab center that will give you the right treatment environment while keeping you away from your triggers.
Your rules for safe drinking
Want to drink safely? Assuming you don’t have an existing substance abuse problem, here’s your game plan.
- Know your limits. We use blood alcohol content (BAC) for drunk driving laws, and it works well for that purpose. But not all people react the same way to the same number of drinks, even if their BAC rises at the same rate. Your sex, size, and how much you’ve recently eaten are just a few of the factors that may contribute to how drunk you get off of a given amount of alcohol, so be careful about your drinking and get to know your own body. Once you know how many drinks will get you drunk, don’t exceed that number (and, ideally, try to avoid hitting it at all!).
- Have a plan to get home without driving. Never drink and drive. Even if you’re below the legal limit, driving poorly after drinking can land you in legal hot water – so play it safe, and never drive after even one drink. Make your plan ahead of time by booking a car service or planning a trip by public transit, and consider leaving your car at home. Once you’re intoxicated, it can be easy to follow the path of least resistance, so make a plan and make sure that the path of least resistance is also the safest path.
- Don’t drink alone. No, not just because of the social stigma. This is for your safety! Stick with a group so that you have support if you get into any trouble while you’re drinking. Remember, trouble is quite easy to find when you’re drinking – it’s easy to get lost, be targeted by criminals or creeps, or make a poor decision, so enlist some friends to watch your back.
- Watch the alcohol content and the type of booze. Most of us know the old rule that all drinks are created more or less equal: one shot of vodka is roughly the same as one glass of wine or one can of beer. But craft beers and fancy liquors are changing this game a bit, so be sure to keep track of what you’re drinking as well as how many of them you have. That “double IPA” is “double” for a reason! And remember that while a shot may have the same amount of alcohol as a beer, it’s something you take all at once – more akin to chugging a beer than sipping one. Maybe you should order that whiskey on the rocks instead of in a shot glass.
- Choose your environment. While you should never get too drunk, you should choose your drinking locations as if you were going to. A stranger’s party is not a great place to drink, and neither is a bar in a foreign country. A familiar space with friends is your best bet.
If you follow these rules, you’ll be more likely to enjoy a safe night of fun drinking. So keep them in mind – your body and your mind will help you, to say nothing of your wallet and your friends!