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Alcohol & Drugs

Strategies to Take if You Choose to Drink

While the legal drinking age for alcoholic beverages is 21 years old, alcohol use is ultimately an individual choice. If you choose to drink, here are some strategies that you might be able to consider in order to reduce the harm that your drinking might cause yourself or others:

  • Determine, in advance, not to exceed a certain number of drinks and stick to it
  • Keep track of drinking by counting number of “standard drinks” consumed each hour
  • Space drinks over time, 1 or fewer drinks per hour to minimize impairment of judgment
  • Drink slowly
  • Avoid drinking before an event (i.e., front-loading)
  • Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Eat before and while drinking
  • Avoid drinking games that may quickly lead to impairment, vomiting, poisoning, and a possible hospital trip
  • Experiment with drinking less than typical for you
  • Experiment with refusing drinks
  • Limit attendance to social events where heavy drinking will occur
  • Practice ways to be more comfortable in social situations without using alcohol
  • Identify healthier ways to reduce stress (i.e., exercise, meditation, other)
  • Use a “buddy system” and watch out for each other
  • Let a friend know when you have had enough
  • Do not drink and drive
  • In the case that you actually choose not to drink, be assertive and clear about your choice

By nature, women’s bodies have lower levels of the enzyme (alcohol dehydrogenase) that metabolizes alcohol; thus, on average, women are more susceptible to intoxication than males who might be drinking at the same rate and amount; in addition, a woman’s menstrual cycle causes variability in the impairment potential of alcohol

This article was originally published on the University of Florida’s Counseling Center website. It is published here with the University of Florida Counseling Center’s permission.