When it comes to intoxication and addiction, the spotlight has been shining on America’s opioid crisis for several years now. Yet it’s important not to lose sight of the public health issues associated with other substances. Any type of addiction can take an equally devastating toll on individuals and their families.
According to the National Insitute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 16 million adults in the U.S. have an alcohol use disorder, aka AUD. They define the term as “a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.”
If you choose to drink alcohol, do so responsibly. Let’s take a look at some real-world tips for practicing alcohol safety.
1. Take Some Time Off
In recent years, the Dryuary movement has become popular. But you don’t need an organization or cutesy nickname to take a break from booze. Simply designate the length of time that you want to abstain – a month is usually effective – and put down the bottle for the duration.
Staying sober for several weeks or more has multiple advantages. Your health may improve, you will definitely save some money, and you won’t have to worry about hangovers. Most importantly, abstinence will provide insight into when and why you drink. That’s knowledge you can use to begin drinking more responsibly.
2. Practice Saying No
Just because you’re giving up Guinness or turning down tequila doesn’t mean you can’t join your friends on outings to restaurants and pubs. Be prepared for some peer pressure, however. One way to approach the situation is to let your pals know in advance that you’re taking a breather.
Another smart move is to practice your response when offered a drink, or asked why you’re not indulging. Try saying “just a Coke for me, thanks.” Some people like to laugh it off with a joke, such as “I’m giving my liver a well-deserved vacation.” Real friends will respect your decision.
3. Volunteer to Be Designated Driver
Afraid your resolve will weaken once you belly up to the bar? Offer to be your squad’s designated driver. Many establishments offer free refreshments to DDs, and the knowledge that your friends’ safety is in your hands will help you just say no.
4. Be Mindful About Your Drinking
How many times have you poured yourself another glass of wine without really thinking about it? Instead of mindlessly chugging back beer after beer, take steps to slow down. Switch to more complicated cocktails – frozen daiquiris, a bloody Mary with all the fixings, mojitos or anything involves muddling. The more you have to fuss over your beverages, the fewer you will consume.
5. Ask the Bartender to Make It Mild
Many bartenders default to generous pours and limited levels of mixers. Want to stay out longer without getting too tipsy? Go ahead and ask them to make you a weak drink. Have a glass of cranberry juice with lime and just a splash of vodka, say, or a white-wine spritzer that’s heavy on the club soda.
6. Choose Your Tipple Carefully
Ice-cold beers go down awfully quick on a hot summer evening. Irish coffee isn’t as appealing when it’s lukewarm. Maybe you knock back champagne at a faster pace so the bubbles don’t dissipate. Opt for drinks that offer the same satisfaction from the first sip to the last, so you can savor them over a longer stretch of time.
7. Thwart Yourself In Advance
Alcohol lowers inhibitions. That means plenty of people start out intending to drink only one or two but end up having three or four. Before you begin the evening’s festivities, put safeguards in place.
If you are heading out on the town, leave your credit cards behind and take only a limited amount of cash. Drinking at home? Buy smaller bottles rather than stocking your liquor cabinet and wine rack. It’s all too easy to overindulge when there’s a whole box of Pinot Grigio or a fridge full of Heineken at your disposal.
8. Alternate Alcohol with Water
This is a time-honored way to have fun at a party or paint the town red without going overboard. For every martini or margarita, you drink, have a big glass of water. Not only will this help slow down and space out your alcohol consumption, but it will also keep you hydrated. Staying hydrated, in turn, can prevent a hangover or at least lessen its severity.
Another option is to pick your poison, so to speak. Alcohol and other drugs like marijuana and cocaine, or even taking CBD and alcohol, can intensify the effects of both. If you are a drug user, don’t drink while you are using and don’t use when you are drinking.
9. Change Up Your Routine
Why do you drink? It might be because you like the taste, or want to wind down after a long work week. Chances are, though, that many times you tip one back out of sheer habit. The bartender at your favorite haunt knows what your favorite draft beer is, or it’s customary to share a bottle of Shiraz with your wife while making dinner.
Instead of traveling that well-worn path, shake things up. Reward yourself for a job well done by treating yourself to a mani-pedi, a new game for your Xbox, a round of golf, a hardcover book by your favorite author. Opt for delivery instead of drinking at the bar while you wait for your chicken wings.
Finding new ways to celebrate, soothe jangled nerves, or distract yourself from problems is a key step to cutting back on your alcohol consumption.
10. If You Can’t Cut Back, Consider Getting Help
It’s possible that even with all of these tips for alcohol safety, you may still find yourself unable to control your consumption. Members of Alcoholics Anonymous have a saying: one drink is too many, but a thousand drinks are never enough.
Tired of spending too much money, not recalling your actions from the previous night’s blackout, or waking up with the world’s worst hangover? It’s time to get serious, get help, and get sober. Look into rehab options or a support group.
Practicing Alcohol Safety Is Vital
Throwing caution to the wind, taking dangerous risks, and acting on impulse can get you into real trouble where booze is involved. Maybe you could get away with such immature behavior in college, but now that you’re a bona fide adult, respect yourself enough to know when to say when. Practice alcohol safety and see just how rewarding a sober life can be.