My favorite drink of the moment.
First of all, let me say that alcohol is one of the finer pleasures in life. Hell, I always have a bottle of Bailey's on hand somewhere in my house. But I've been thinking about responsible drinking lately, and how a lot of people, especially younger folks like me, think they know what that means, but... don't, at least, not really.
Now, you may think, "Responsible drinking tips from a nineteen-year-old American?" Well, yeah, I see where that might come off kind of amusing, but I've actually had a lot of experience with alcohol. So really I'm more like a nineteen-year-old Belgian when it comes to drinking (coincidentally, Belgium is where I started drinking, at fourteen).
My experience includes the following, from bad to tame: My uncle's stepson died of alcohol poisoning at a fraternity party. My very good friend had to get his stomach pumped after alcohol poisoning on his eighteenth birthday. I have been black-out drunk, but only once before. I've taken care of drunk people, very
It is this last point that made me realize the need to write this. Even friends who grew up in the same environment as I did abused alcohol. In addition to that, when I came to the States, I was surprised at how many people wanted to "go out and get drunk." Whereas, for me, it's "Go out and get drinks
." The difference is clear. My freshmen year, my friends fell into two categories: Those who drank to get drunk, and those who didn't drink at all. I ended up spending more
time with the friends who didn't drink at all because I really didn't want to end up watching my friends drink beyond their limit.
This year, my friend who had his stomach pumped (we'll call him Charlie) is having the same problem in his freshmen year. He's always the designated driver, and he's always telling folks when they've had enough, and it frustrates him. Because he doesn't want to go with them, but he's afraid if he doesn't, something will go wrong.
So this is a how-to guide about drinking responsibly, targeted especially at the "under-aged" American drinkers (I use the term loosely because I think the age of twenty-one is ridiculously high). As my brother said, there is drinking responsibly, and there is getting drunk
responsibly, and I will explain steps for both. Keep in mind that these seem strict, but I always follow them and they really aren't that hard to do.
For going out to drink responsibly:
1) Always drink with at least one friend.
2) Always assign a designated driver, even if no one plans to get drunk.
3) Always know what is in your drink (tequila, whiskey, vodka...). If you're going to a party, and especially if you're a girl, never set your drink down, and make sure you get it yourself, or accept it from a trusted friend.
4) Set a limit for yourself before
you have your first drink. If you tend to over-indulge, or get stubborn after a few drinks, I advise you to tell a friend what that limit is so he/she can help you stick to that limit.
For getting drunk responsibly:
1) Know where you are! Don't get drunk in a strange place.
2) Call a cab or a friend to come pick you up at a specific time (whenever you guess you'll be ready to go home) because you'll probably be too trashed to remember to call a cab/friend yourself.
3) Know your limits. There is a difference between drunk and hospitalized.
4) (Once again, this is especially essential for girls) Only get drunk with friends around.
5) In case you miss your cab/ride home, ask a friend who lives nearby before hand if they'd mind if you crashed on their couch/floor.
Especially for "under-aged" drinkers:
1) Do not drink on school or public property.
2) Do not drink in the dorms.
3) Don't drink alcohol you aren't familiar with.
4) Follow all the above rules for responsible drinking.
Listen, I'm not trying to encourage "under-age" drinking, but I know it happens (hell, look at me) and it's important for people to know how to do it safely. Like sex. If your parents don't know you drink (mine do), be nice to them. Come home before curfew, don't mouth off at them, and understand that they don't want you drinking because they're worried about you.
Remember: It's fun to get drunk once in a while, but the real appeal of alcohol is its taste. A fine wine, or an Irish coffee in the morning can really make you savor the moment. Sometimes it's fun just to go for a drink... for the sake of having a drink.
I think that's all. I hope I haven't forgotten anything.