If you drink alcohol, it's important to know how to drink responsibly and to stay within your alcohol tolerance level. If you don't, then you could hurt your friends and family and put yourself in grave danger. If you want to know how to drink responsibly, whether you're at a bar, a party, or any other place where people are drinking, then you have to make a game plan, know your limits, and know how to spot and avoid dangerous situations. If you want to know how to enjoy alcohol instead of letting alcohol take control of you, just follow the suggestions starting with Step 1, below.
1Drink with a group of friends. If you want to drink responsibly, then the first thing you should do is avoid drinking alone, or drinking with people you don't really know or trust all that well. If you're out on your own and have no one looking out for you, you can get in all kinds of trouble without anyone even knowing something's wrong. Whether you're heading to a party or out to the bars, always make sure to drink with a group of people you like and trust.
- Don't drink with people who encourage binge drinking or look down on you for not drinking, or for not "keeping up" and drinking a lot. You should be comfortable to drink at your own pace.
- Don't go out with people who have a reputation for running off to hook up with someone they meet at a bar or just disappearing in the middle of the night.
Make sure you go with people you can rely on.
2Create a "buddy system" with at least one of your friends.
When you go out with friends, at least one of them should be a person who knows her own limit, or even who doesn't drink very much, and will be willing to watch out for you and to tell you when it looks like you've had enough. Sometimes, you could be drinking way over your limit while being too stubborn to admit it, and this friend can let you know when it's time to switch to water.
- This friend can tell you when you've had enough, keep you from driving, and be prepared to take you home if you're having a rough night.
- Don't abuse the "buddy system" -- if you're always that girl, no one will want to go out with you. You should be able to look out for your friend while she looks out for you.
3Know your limits. Before all else, know yourself and your own limits. It doesn't take long to learn how little or how much alcohol you can tolerate and every body is unique in its ability to tolerate alcohol. Listen to your body and respond in a way that nurtures it rather than abuses it. The first time you drink, you should drink with close friends in the comfort of your own home or their homes, so that you don't get socially overwhelmed. This will help you get a sense of what you can and can not handle.
- You can set your limits very concretely. Your limits could be "four glasses of wine in six hours," "four beers a night," or "two mixed drinks a night" (depending on what's in them). Tell yourself what your limits are before you leave so that you're more likely to stick to them throughout the night.
- If it's your first time out drinking, it's important to adopt a steady and slow pace, so that you can come to learn your alcohol tolerance.
4Know how you're getting home. If you're going out with friends, you should know exactly how you're getting home the night before. There are a few options: the easiest is to have a designated driver before you go out, so you have a person who will forgo alcohol that night and gets you home safely. You can also get home by taking a bus or other forms of public transportation or just call a cab or walk if you're close enough to the bar. Any of these plans are fine.
- What you should not do is drive to the bar and hope that one of your friends can drive you home, or let someone who you know will drink a lot drive you there, hoping that someone else can take over the car later.
- If you don't drive or have access to a car, regardless of the circumstance, never get into a car driven by someone else who has had too much to drink.
- Never get into a car with a stranger if you're intoxicated. Alcohol affects your senses and judgment. Get his or her number and wait until you are sober before you decide to pursue him or her further.
- Even if you're desperate to get home, it's better to pay for a cab or call a trusted friend to pick you up than to get in the car with someone who is drunk or a stranger just because it's more convenient.
- Never drive drunk. Don't drive if you're even tipsy. Just one drink per hour can put you over the legal limit for driving. Even if you think you "feel fine," your BAC may indicate otherwise.
5Drink when you're of legal age. If you're in the United States, that means 21, and if you're in other parts of the world, that age can typically range from 16-18. Don't go out with a fake ID or drink on a college campus if you're under 21, unless you're prepared to deal with the legal repercussions. If you're breaking the law, you're not being responsible.
6Don't drink if you're not in a positive frame of mind. Alcohol is a depressant, so if you're already feeling angry, upset, or just unstable, it is very likely to make you feel worse. Though you may think that drinking will make you have the time of your life and forget all of your problems, it'll actually make you feel much worse. You may feel an initial buzz and relief after your first drink or two, but you'll drink yourself into a much worse mood than you started with.
- You should make a rule of only drinking when you're happy, not when you want to cope with your sadness.
- Don't ever use drinking as a way to deal with your problems. You'll have to be sober to do that.
- Don't go out and drink with someone you're mad at. The alcohol will make your anger come out, and you'll be much better off if you settle your conflicts when you're in a lucid frame of mind..
Don't drink on an empty stomach. You will feel the effects of alcohol a lot faster if you drink on an empty stomach and increase the likelihood of feeling sick. Most food is better than none at all, but you should try to eat a more hearty meal that is rich in carbs and proteins that can help you absorb the alcohol, instead of just eating some fruit or a salad.
Having a meal before you go out will make you much less likely to drink over your limit very quickly.
- If you've arrived at a bar and realize you haven't eaten, order some food and have a quick bite to eat before you start drinking. Don't worry if this is a bit inconvenient or if it keeps you from drinking for a little while. It'll be worth it.
8Check with your doctor to see if you can mix your prescription medications with alcohol. If you're on a prescription medication, check with your doctor to make sure that you can drink alcohol on the same day when you took it. It varies by medication, so make sure that you know if your prescription will have any negative interactions with alcohol before you start drinking.
Don't drink if you haven't had much sleep. If you're running on two or three hours of sleep, you'll be much better off hitting the hay than hitting up a bar. Alcohol will affect you much more intensely if you're already feeling woozy, tired, and not in control of your own mind and body because you're exhausted.
- You may have stayed up studying for an exam the night before and could be dying for a celebratory drink with your friends, but you should hold off for another night until you feel well-rested.
- Don't think that having a super dose of caffeine by chugging three cups of coffee or downing an energy drink will make things better. In fact, mixing a lot of caffeine and alcohol will make you feel even worse and more likely to crash.