To Drink or Not
Alcohol is the most commonly used drug. Whether you are over or under the legal drinking age, you cannot avoid making decisions about drinking – at parties, on dates, or in your room.
Your decisions can increase your risk of flunking courses, getting a sexually transmitted disease, and being involved in fights and accidents. It can also increase your risk of developing a long-term drinking problem.
Careless decisions about drinking – made at the last minute or when you have already begun drinking – usually have the worst consequences. But you can make careful decisions – before you drink at all or before you drink at a party or other event – that will protect you and those you care about.
If You Choose Not To Drink...
- Stick by your decision; be polite but firm when you refuse a drink.
- Establish a nonalcoholic beverage that you will use as a substitute for alcohol (soda, juice, mineral water, and carbonated water are good choices).
- As the sober partier, look out for friends.
- Enjoy other activities with a clear head and be conscious of what you are doing.
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If You Choose To Drink...
- Drink moderately.
- Don't binge drink.
- Avoid drinking games, keg stands, and beer bongs.
- Set limits before you drink and establish a nonalcoholic beverage you will use as a substitute once you have reached your limit (soda, juice, mineral water, and carbonated spring water are good choices).
- Always appoint a designated driver.
- Set up a buddy system and stay together (don't abandon intoxicated friends or let them wander away).
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Successful Party Strategies*
Before a party:
- Invite compatible people.
- Develop a theme for your party or event. Decorate the space and provide entertainment.
- Provide nonalcoholic drinks – enough for attendees to have plenty of options, and display these as prominently as the alcoholic beverages (if everyone attending is over age).
- Set up the room so that the bar is not the center of attention.
- Always measure the amount of alcohol put into punches and mixed drinks.
- Using smaller cups helps people keep their alcohol servings to an appropriate size.
- Prepare lots of good food. Avoid serving too many salty snacks though, as these tend to make people thirsty.
During a party:
- Have a plan about drinking and driving. Even one drink can impair your motor skills and judgment, the two things you need most to drive safely.
- Avoid drinking games. Respect party attendees who choose not to drink alcohol.
- Have a reliable friend, family member, or a hired professional serve the drinks. This will discourage your guests from mixing their own, and help keep track of the size and number of drinks they consume.
- Don't serve anyone who has already had enough to drink.
- Plan to stop serving alcohol about 90 minutes before the party ends. This will give your party-goers some time to process the alcohol they have consumed before they go off into the night.
Remember: Helping your friends get home safely is part of the party. Asking a friend not to drive home can be hard, but they are likely to appreciate your caring and clear concern for their well-being.
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Written By: Teens participating in the Summer Wellness Programs & Adapted from Go Ask Alice!, Columbia University's Health Question & Answer Internet Service.
Reviewed By: Nancy Brown, Ph.D.
Last Reviewed: October 2013
Below are links PAMF accessed when researching this topic. PAMF does not sponsor or endorse any of these sites, nor does PAMF guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on them.
American College Health Association.
The Cool Spot The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
For More Information:
See our Being Prepared article.
Have problems with alcohol? Take the quiz!