Eat, Drink, Be Merry, But Stay Safe

Published: 15 December, 2015
Eat, Drink, Be Merry, But Stay Safe

Fourteen Top Tips when Drinking to Stay Sociable and Safe this Festive Season

The holidays are drawing ever closer and the party season is upon us. It’s the time for festivities and cheer with our friends and family and bringing good times aplenty. Chances may be that the drinks may be flowing, so I wanted to share my top tips to stay safe when drinking, so a great night doesn’t turn into a regretful night. It goes without saying; before you start drinking, be sure that you know that you can stop before things go too far.

  1. If you are going out, plan how you are going to get home. Set aside some money for a taxi, and only use registered taxis, or arrange a lift with a sober designated driver, but keep some money aside, just in case you need that taxi after all. If you decide to separate from the people you are with, or when you decide to go home, let others know that you are going.
  1. Don’t mix alcohol and medications. Some prescribed medications, or over the counter medications don’t mix well with alcohol, so if your information slip on your medication suggests not drinking whilst you take your course, don’t.
  1. Keep track, keep in control. Decide how much you are going to drink, and stick to it. Even if this means taking out a set amount of money and leaving your bank card at home (setting aside some cash for the taxi fare home!) If you are drinking at home or a house party, chances are that measures of alcohol are not the same as what you’d be served in a pub, this can make it more difficult for you to keep track of how much you’ve had to drink. A top tip is to use a shotglass, counting it as one measure, if you are drinking spirits.
  1. Eat well before you start drinking. Food in your system acts to slow down your body in absorbing the alcohol into your bloodstream. Never drink on an empty stomach as chances are you will end up being too drunk, too quickly.
  1. Don’t Pre-load. If you are going out, try to limit the amount of alcohol you drink at home beforehand. This again, will stop you from getting too drunk too quickly, once you hit the bars or parties.
  1. Be fashionably late. By turning up at the bar or party later it cuts down your drinking time…just make sure that you don’t go all out with the booze once you get there to try to catch up….it kinda defeats the object!
  1. Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water or soft drinks, especially during your drinking session. This not only keeps you hydrated and helps you pace yourself throughout the drinking session. Drinking water or soft drinks in between alcoholic drinks to keeping yourself hydrated has been known to help prevent that headache on the morning after.
  1. Pace yourself – drink more slowly; try not to consume more than one drink an hour. Plus, your wallet will thank you for this!
  1. Try not to mix your drinks. At the end of the day, alcohol is pretty much the same chemical, but it is delivered in different concentrations. The units of alcohol in a double vodka and coke are the same as in a pint of 4% abv lager; a shot such as ‘Aftershock’, or ‘Sourz’ contains the same units of alcohol as ½ a pint of 4% lager. It is all down to the speed that they are drunk – chances are that a shot is drunk a lot faster than the ½ pint of lager. So, mixing your drinks can make you lose track of how much you have had, and what you’d had to drink.
  1. Don’t drink in rounds. Simple, this one. If you start to drink in rounds it means everyone has to try to keep up with that one person, or two people that are the fastest drinkers. If you aren’t a big drinker, or don’t drink often, the pressure can be on to try to keep up, but chances are that you will end up drinking more than you can handle or more than your body is used to.
  1. Don’t drive whilst under the influence. To stay on the safe side, as everyone’s bodies process alcohol at different rates, don’t consume any alcohol before you drive. Be especially aware of the morning after. Chances are that after an evening of drinking your body may not yet have processed the alcohol from your body. This means that you could very well easily be over the limit to drive on the morning after. You may feel OK, but you may still be unfit to drive or over the legal alcohol limit. Recent statistics (2012) have shown that 55% of drink drivers are caught as a result of driving on the morning after.

  2. Make sure that your fun doesn’t affect others. If you have youngsters at home that rely on you, make sure you don’t drink to the point where you can’t look after them as well as you normally do when you get home, or on the next day.

  3. Give it a rest! When the party is over, and good times have been had, give your body a break from the booze. Your body has to work extra hard to remove alcohol from your system, so once it’s done its job, don’t put it under more strain by having another session soon afterwards.
  1. Finally, know when to stop. I know I’ve mentioned this at the beginning of this article, but it’s really important. If alcohol has caused you or others be to hurt or injured, or is affecting your home life, job, relationships with friends or family/loved ones, or finances, maybe it’s time to cut down.

A bit more information:

How do you measure how much you drink?

The amount of alcohol a person consumes is measured in units. Here are some rough examples of what makes up a typical unit:

  • Half a pint of regular strength beer or cider = 1 unit
  • A small glass (125ml) of wine = 1 unit
  • A single measure of spirits (e.g. whisky, vodka, rum or gin) = 1 unit.

What is the recommended guideline?

Men: As a rule, health experts say that a man should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol on a drinking day. In real terms, this means men shouldn’t exceed two pints of regular lager or beer, or 4 single measures of spirits a day.
Women: Health experts recommend women should not regularly exceed 2-3 units of alcohol on a drinking day. In real terms this is a pint of regular strength beer or lager, for a maximum of 3 single measures of spirits a day.

Why is there a difference between men and women and the recommended guidelines?

Well, it all comes down to our physicality; the male body has a higher fluid proportion than the female body. This means alcohol is more diluted in a man’s body than a woman’s. As a result, women tend to get drunk faster than men on the same amount of alcohol.

If you would like more information and support see your GP or healthcare provider, or drop into Foundations Substance Misuse Services, Queen Street, Grimsby Monday – Friday 9.30am – 4.30pm

For more information on safer drinking, here are some helpful sites

https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/

http://www.nhs.uk/change4life/Pages/alcohol-lower-risk-guidelines-units.aspx

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/Festivedrinking.aspx

https://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/help-and-advice/help-and-advice-with-your-drinking/

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Written by: Becky Wellington

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