Tips for Drinking Safely

Going out for a night of drinking can be fun, but it comes with some real risks. The dangers include everything from physical injury and health issues to long-term dependency, relationship conflicts and fights. Women who drink are especially susceptible to sexual assault, alcohol poisoning and various medical conditions like cirrhosis of the liver and heart disease. With that in mind, here are some recommendations and habits for safe drinking.

First of all, if you’re underage, don’t drink. Risk of accidents and mental health problems have been shown to increase in adolescents who drink. On top of that, minors face serious legal consequences, not to mention punishment from parents, if they’re caught drinking.

Don’t drink at all if you’re pregnant. While some researchers have recently suggested that light drinking is okay, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says pregnant women should not drink at all, and that any drinking can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).

Drink among friends, not strangers. If on a date, certainly don’t drink to excess. Unless someone’s got your best interests in mind, it’s important to keep your wits about you.

Never drink on an empty stomach. Eat well before drinking and while drinking. Drink fluids other than alcohol to stay hydrated. Since alcohol is a diuretic, a night out drinking means that you’ll be urinating a lot, so you’ll need to replace those fluids. Dehydration can cause headaches and dizziness, which will make a bad hangover even worse.

Don’t take drugs that interact with alcohol. Marijuana may be legal in your state, but it’s not a good idea to smoke it if you’re drinking. If you take prescription medications that interact with alcohol, then you should abstain from drinking.

If you’ve been drinking, don’t drive. Risking a DUI is not a good way to end your evening of revelry. Take an Uber or get a ride from a friend who hasn’t been drinking. Have a transportation plan in place before you start drinking. If you’ll be using public transportation, try to travel with a friend.

Only accept drinks poured by friends or bar staff. “Don’t let complete strangers pour your drinks,” warns Paul Michaels, founder of National Bartenders. “Bartenders are trained to follow liquor laws, and with their job comes liability and accountability that a stranger at a party simply does not have.”

Set drinking time-limits for yourself. Inform friends about when you expect to be back at home, and try to keep in contact with them while you’re out drinking. Check out the number of drink tracking apps available for smartphones that can help you stay within safe limits.

Moderation is key for safe drinking. Binge drinking is seriously dangerous for your health and safety. Moderation means that men should drink no more than four drinks per day, and no more than three for women. Moderation also means that you won’t suffer a head-splitting hangover the next day, which by itself is a good reason to watch your alcohol intake, pace yourself and stop drinking before you’ve had too much.