Drink Responsibly

Edited by Train Wreck, Eng, VisiHow

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We all know drink responsibly slogans, and we've all seen a drink responsibly campaign or two, but what does it really mean? The fact is, 'drink responsibly' is much more than a commercial, a logo, or a quote. It's a call to action that pervades every part of our society. Even the comedy cartoon South Park[1], has an episode on drinking responsibly, but most of the time we skip past the real meaning -- just like they did in the cartoon. Often that's because we drink too much, or rely on someone else to be the designated driver.

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Honestly, that's not enough. In this wiki we'll be discussing how you can drink responsibly. We won't fill the article with disclaimers on drinking alcohol. There are other articles where we've already covered this topic. Instead, we're going to focus on responsible drinking, what it means, and how you can do it. Read on to learn how you can drink responsibly.

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The Basics of Drinking Responsibly

  1. 1
    Know your limits.
    We'll discuss limits in more detail later in this article, but in a nutshell it's two drinks per day for men, and one drink per day for women. While many of us drink more, or don't drink at all until the weekend, the fact is that just one drink can impair a person's ability to make good judgments.
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  2. 2
    Plan your drinking in advance.
    While this doesn't necessarily mean you should plan the actual drinks, it does mean you should have a general idea of where you're going, and how you'll get home. Likewise, plan to drink half glasses, or drink from smaller glasses. The smaller the glass, the less you drink, because you feel like you've drank more -- even when you haven't.
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  3. 3
    Make sure to drink with friends.
    When you go out alone, you'll often meet up with strangers, who may decide to go elsewhere. As the night progresses you're more likely to lose track of where you are, and more importantly how much you've had to drink. Instead, go out with friends. This way you'll know who you're with, and better be able to plan where you're going to be drinking.
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  4. 4
    Don't drink when you haven't had something to eat.
    We've discussed the importance of eating before you drink alcohol elsewhere, and that hasn't changed. When you eat before you drink, it helps to soothe the stomach, and more importantly slows the effects of alcohol on your system. This means you'll be able to pace yourself more easily, and drink responsibly.
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  5. 5
    Avoid alcohol if you're not in a good mood.
    Because alcohol is a depressant, you'll feel worse if you drink when you're not in a good mood. Any time you add a depressant to an already depressed state, you're significantly increasing the likelihood that you'll make bad decisions. That only leads to drinking irresponsibly. The end result isn't pretty for anyone, especially you.
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  6. 6
    Don't drink if you're underage.
    At the risk of sounding like a parent or counselor, we'll give a little more detail on this one that you may not have heard. The liver, which processes alcohol and removes it from the body, isn't fully developed if you're underage. That means your body can't process alcohol the same way an adult body does. As a result, all of the drinking standards in the world don't and won't apply to you. Your body is significantly different than that of an adult, making it much more dangerous for you to drink alcohol.
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  7. 7
    Many times, the worst decision a person makes is getting behind the wheel of a car when drinking alcohol. This is too often because they did not plan to drink too much. The end result is drinking irresponsibly. By planning in advance, you can help to avoid this situation. If not for you, then for a friend. You can use local taxi services, or call Taxify or Uber if you failed to plan ahead.
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  8. 8
    Make sure you have the numbers of local emergency personnel and police.
    In our modern world of cell phones and instant communication, it's not hard to do. Just save them, and later, should you need them to save someone from alcohol poisoning, you'll have them ready. Just like having a designated driver, this little step can help save lives. It's also an important part of drinking responsibly.
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  9. 9
    Drink lots of water.
    We already discussed how to sober yourself up quickly, and an important part of that discussion was making sure you drink enough water when you've been drinking. Proper hydration not only slightly lowers your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), but it also helps you pace yourself when drinking. Make sure to drink lots of water, and pay attention to your overall alcohol consumption before you're drunk and need to sober up.
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  10. 10
    Remember that you still might not drink responsibly.
    Alcohol impairs judgment. That means your best intentions are already on their way out the window when you start to drink. As a result, the whole concept of drinking responsibly rests on your decisions before you start to drink. Once you've started drinking, the whole idea is literally resting on shaky legs. Your shaky legs if you drank too much. So plan in advance. Be prepared, and drink responsibly.
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What is responsible drinking?

Responsible drinking is simply not drinking more than you can handle. It literally means not drinking too much, and not being irresponsible when you drink. Unfortunately, alcohol limits our ability to make good decisions. This impaired judgment increases with each drink we take, and are no longer drinking responsibly.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)[2], alcohol use was directly responsible for the deaths of more than 88,000 people from 2006 to 2010. That's a total of about 2.5 million years of lost life -- simply because people were not drinking responsibly. In the context of these numbers, we'll take a look at what excessive drinking is, because unfortunately most people who drink too much aren't alcoholics. They're just average people like you and me, who had a few too many drinks, or made some bad decisions. To better understand this, we need to look at the differences between moderate drinking and excessive drinking.

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What is excessive drinking?

Excessive drinking is defined as any form of underage drinking, binge drinking, drinking by pregnant women, or heavy drinking. Specifically, it includes binge drinking and heavy drinking.

Binge Drinking:

  • More than five drinks for a man in a single sitting.
  • More than four drinks for a woman in a single sitting.

Heavy Drinking:

  • More than eight drinks per week for a woman.
  • More than fifteen drinks per week for a man.

What is moderate drinking?

Moderate drinking is defined as drinking daily, but not to the levels we described above. As a general rule it's much easier to define, consisting of two drinks per day for men, and one drink per day for women. However, there are entire subsets of people who may consider themselves moderate drinkers, but should not be drinking at all. These include:

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  1. 1
    Anyone younger than the legal drinking age, or 21 years of age.
    People who are not adults do not have fully developed livers, and the effects of drinking alcohol can be much worse for them.
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  2. 2
    Anyone planning to engage in activities requiring skill or coordination including driving or operating machinery.
    As alcohol impairs both mental ability and physical coordination, it's important not to engage in activities that require good judgment or coordination.
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  3. 3
    Persons suffering from medical conditions that can be worsened when they drink alcohol.
    In some cases alcohol can significantly worsen existing medical conditions, even leading to death.
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  4. 4
    Anyone who is trying to get pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
    Alcohol has repeatedly been proven to have a negative effect on developing babies, resulting in premature birth, birth defects, and even miscarriage.
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  5. 5
    Persons taking prescription medication or pain relievers.
    There are many interactions between medications and alcohol, not the least of which is permanent damage to the liver.
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  6. 6
    Anyone who is a recovering alcoholic, or who cannot control their drinking.
    This should go without saying, but again, alcohol impairs good judgment. Drinking responsibly does not just include you. It also includes those around you. Don't drink with people you know have or have had a drinking problem.
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How much can you drink?

There are many factors impacting how much you can drink, but as a general rule you're better safe than sorry. The body burns off alcohol at almost exactly 0.016 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) per hour. That means that a small woman burns off just as much alcohol per hour as a large man. However, the similarities stop there.

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A small woman will have a much higher BAC after one drink than a large man, just like pouring a drink into a small glass will fill it much more than pouring a drink into a large glass. Likewise, a person with more fat will absorb alcohol slower, meaning that a small woman or a large thin man will both get drunk faster than a large fat man. This is represented in the Windmark Formula, which is a method for calculating BAC based on several scientific constants, which are explained in more detail through the BAC link at the end of this section.

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This means that a BAC of 0.016 will take one hour for each person to burn off, but that BAC may vary considerably from person to person. Speaking in very rough terms, after one drink a 125 pound man will have a BAC of about 0.028, and it will take just under two hours for him to have a BAC of zero. If a 250 pound man has that same drink, he will have a BAC of about 0.017, and it will take him just over an hour to have a BAC of zero.

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In comparison, a woman who had that same drink, and is 125 pounds, would have a BAC of about 0.037, and it would take her more than two hours to have a BAC of zero. A 250 pound woman would have a BAC of 0.019, and it would take her slightly longer than our 250 pound man to have a BAC of zero.

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To check for yourself, you can use this BAC tool[3] to calculate your own levels.

Tips and Suggestions

  • Don't go home with strangers when you've been drinking. Alcohol impairs judgment, which means you're not in a position to make good decisions. Getting in a car or going home with a stranger can be a bad decision even when you haven't been drinking. If you've been drinking, it's almost always a bad decision. Instead, take your own taxi to wherever it is you're planning to go.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages you're not familiar with. If you haven't had that flaming drink on the bar that everyone else says is so great, then skip it. Responsible drinking means not choking down something you aren't familiar with that could quickly put you in a drunken state.
  • Check in with friends, especially if they're not drinking. While it may sound silly, periodically sending a quick text to a friend who isn't drinking, or to your designated driver, can let them know your state of mind. If they think you've maybe had a little too much to drink, they might just be the one to help you stay out of trouble.
  • Avoid drinking games. While some drinking games can help you mentally focus, the down side is that if you aren't winning the game, you're probably drinking too much. In this case, drinking responsibly can mean you need to check out of the game. More importantly, you might want to check your friends out of the game too and play a game that either doesn't involve drinking, or allows drinking water instead.

References on How to Drink Responsibly

  1. South Park and MTV
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  3. Blood Alcohol Calculator from Drink Fox

See more related tutorials: Treat Alcohol Poisoning, Drink on Antibiotics, Drink Alcohol and Exercise, Get Rid of Alcohol Breath, Be a Designated Driver, Sleep After Drinking, DUI Fines, Determine If You Have Alcohol Poisoning, Drink Without Getting Drunk, Eat Before You Drink Alcohol, Get Help with a Drinking Problem, and Drink Alcohol.

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Recent edits by: Eng, Train Wreck

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