“Chug! Chug! Chug!” The crowds are cheering and you’re drinking. What started as a casual night of partying has turned into a drunken mess. You’re slurring your words and can barely stumble through the walk home. Or worse, the alcohol overtakes your body and you spend the end of the evening hunched over a toilet. At least you didn’t do anything so stupid to need a criminal lawyer in the morning, right?
The consequences of irresponsible drinking can range the gamut from ruining your evening to ruining your life. Roman Solohub, author of Clear Thinking When Drinking, is a professional when it comes to teaching individuals how to handle alcohol responsibly. “From the moment you intend to drink alcohol,” Solohub says, “you assume a responsibility to yourself and to the rest of society. Society deserves and expects that those who consume alcohol do so in a way that does not compromise the safety of others.”
Enjoying alcohol doesn’t have to mean that you get falling-down-drunk every night. With these six tips for drinking responsibly, you’ll be able to have a good time without regretting it in the morning.
1. Eat Before (or During) Drinking
Having some food in your stomach slows the absorption rate of alcohol. Proteins, fats, and dense carbohydrates are all good choices to buffer the effects of drinking.
In addition, bananas can help absorb the alcohol in your stomach and keep you from feeling nauseous.
2. Know the Strength of Each Drink
Throughout his website and book, Solohub stresses the importance of assigning the correct potency to each alcoholic drink. One beer (12 ounces), one glass of wine (5 ounces), and one shot of liquor (1.5 ounces of 80-proof) all contain roughly the same amount of alcohol. This means that you must pay attention to how much you or the bartender is pouring into your drinks. If you put two shots into one glass of a mixed drink, it still counts as two drinks.
3. Keep Track of How Many Drinks You’ve Had in a Specific Time Period
In general, the body metabolizes alcohol at about one drink per hour. This means that it takes 60 minutes for the effects of one drink to leave your body. Consuming additional drinks will, in essence, put your body behind and increase the level of intoxication. This is why counting the number of drinks and keeping track of time are essential to responsible drinking.
4. Avoid Shots and Drinking Games
Partygoers who are taking shots are most likely having more than one drink per hour. This same overconsumption is typical in drinking games like “flip cup” or “quarters.”
Solohub says, “The body just cannot keep up with that type of rapid alcohol intake. A shot can be ingested in a second, yet it can take the body a full hour to metabolize that drink. Doing several shots in a row really puts the body behind in this metabolism process. The moral of the story is: Don't do shots. They don't taste good. They're a waste of good liquor and people usually do them when they're already drunk.“
5. Know Your Limits
Binge drinking is dangerous and sometimes deadly. Take time before you go out to look at a blood alcohol content (BAC) calculator. This resource will tell you how much you can responsibly drink based on your weight and sex, the time period, and type of drink. Make a responsible drinking plan based on those results and stick to it.
If you’ve had a night of irresponsible drinking and extreme intoxication, learn from it. Chances are, you don’t want to have a repeat of that monster hangover. Think through the situation in your head and figure out what pushed you over your limits. For example, if tequila makes you act belligerent, don’t drink it. If Long Island iced teas make you drunk too quick, slowly sip your drink next time.
6. 8 Hours Bottle to Throttle
As a professional airline pilot, Solohub knows he can’t responsibly perform his job with alcohol in his system. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a rule for all pilots: eight hours bottle to throttle. This regulation is a practical standard for the aviation community and it can be a helpful guideline for anyone who drinks alcohol.
Solohub explains, “It means that under no circumstances can a commercial airline pilot have any alcohol at all within eight hours of flight duty. That does not mean that a pilot can get roaring drunk, just as long as he stops more than eight hours prior to duty. Sometimes, eight hours is not nearly enough to recover from a session of irresponsible consumption, but at least it sets a minimum guideline that responsible consumers can use.”
The same principle can be applied to ordinary individuals who want to have a night out and still be productive the next day. The rule can become “eight hours bottle to Business 101” or “eight hours bottle to getting to work” or “eight hours bottle to negotiating a big deal”.
With these six tips, a night of drinking doesn’t have to be something you regret in the morning or pay for with hours of mandatory community service. Stay smart the next time you go out and turn “drinking responsibly” into a good time for everybody.