The (Mostly) Complete Guide to Protective Behaviors While Drinking

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There are so many fun ways to celebrate the end of the semester before heading home. If you choose to add drinking to your plans, it’s important to be aware of protective drinking habits and safety choices. In case you’d like a refresher, here is a (mostly) complete guide to your best protective options!

How can I make sure I’m making the healthiest choices: Options for before and during an event.
Have a plan ahead of time …

  • Be familiar with what counts as “a drink” of different alcohols. Knowing this ahead of time allows you to measure out your drinks and keep a mental tally of your consumption. For example, “a drink” of wine is 5oz and hard alcohol is 1.5oz. You can add more ice to drink to help dilute the alcohol and stay hydrated.
  • Set a limit on the number of drinks you will have before the event. If you consciously decide how many drinks to have before the event starts, you will be more likely to stick to this decision later on.
  • Be sure to alternate drinks with water. Alcohol causes dehydration, and drinking water helps to replenish the water lost from drinking. Alternating drinks can also help reduce the amount of alcohol consumed overall.
  • Eat a full meal before drinking. Eating a full meal helps slow down the absorption of alcohol in the stomach, which allows your body more time to process the alcohol and prevents buildup of the chemicals that cause a hangover.
  • Drink an electrolyte beverage before going to the event. Having plenty of electrolytes and liquid in your body helps make the processing of alcohol more efficient.
    Stick to one type of alcohol. Mixing alcohols is one of the easiest ways to consume more than you intend and put your health at risk.
  • Avoid drinking games. Drinking games are a quick way to lose track of how much you’ve had to drink. One good way to avoid this is to decline an invitation to play by saying “I’m a really bad (game) player, but I can cheer for you instead!”
  • Leave the house with a set amount of cash for buying drinks and your ride home. This means no credit or debit cards either. When you run out of money, it’s time to stop drinking and start your get-home-safe plan!

Avoid the “why aren’t you drinking?” question.

  • Hold a cup or bottle. Even if it’s filled with water or soda, people will likely assume that you are drinking just based on the situation.
  • Buy or make a nonalcoholic drink. Again, as long as you’re holding a cup or bottle you are unlikely to be bothered.
  • Be the Designated Driver. Your friends who are consuming alcohol will need a safe way home and will appreciate that you can help them.

If you choose to drink, make sure you stay safe during the event and get home safely:

  • Stay with a friend the entire time. Keep each other in sight. Leaving together helps both of you stay safe and minimize risk.
  • Always keep your drink in sight. Drinks are most often tampered with when their owner isn’t looking. If your drink doesn’t leave your hand or sight, it is harder for someone to mess with it.
  • Have your address and/or directions saved. Keep your address and directions in an easy-to-access location, like a picture on your lock screen, your phone notepad, or your rideshare app (like Lyft). This way, if you need to leave somewhere quickly, you can access your home information quickly.
  • Screenshot an emergency contact and save it as your lock screen. In the case of an emergency, the easiest way for someone to be able to help you is to have access to your emergency contact.
  • Plan to have a friend pick you up. If you have a friend who is willing, ask them to pick you up at a set time and location. This means you have a time and reason to leave if you need one, and if something goes wrong your friend will know immediately.
  • Plan to have a designated driver. Drinking and driving is never a good choice. Consider using Lyft or Uber for a convenient option.
  • Eat a small snack and drink an electrolyte beverage before going to sleep. Eating helps slow the body’s processing of alcohol, and electrolytes and fluids help the body process alcohol more efficiently.

Remember that this is a (mostly) complete guide, and that there are more protective choices than just those described here.

The best choices for you may include others that prioritize your safety and health based on the situation.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol dependence or abuse, please reach out! Student Wellness provides free consultations to students who have concerns about themselves or a friend. The Center for Health and Wellness Promotion can support and guide you in helping yourself or a friend. Helping others and/or asking for help can be stressful and we want you to know that you are NOT alone. Call (619) 260-4618 to set up an appointment or visit University Center Room 161.