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Size and strength of drinks and mixing

The amount of alcohol in drinks can be misleading, so be aware of how big and alcoholic your drink is, it may be far larger than one drink. Check the percentage alcohol on the packaging or back labels. For example, wine can vary from as low as 7% to 14.5% and beers from 0% to over 7% for special brews . Home pours of spirits are usually more generous than intended too. Also watch out for ‘top ups’ at home or with friends – you can kid yourself that you’re still on the same drink – empty your glass first before having another drink, so you can keep more of a tally on your intake. For the unit content of the most popular drinks, click here. pace yourself

Pace Yourself

If you are going to be drinking over several hours – either out on the town or at friends, you could consume much more than you realise. A great way to stay on top is to alternate soft drinks or water with each alcoholic drink. Alcohol is dehydrating, so water or long refreshing pacers make a big difference - especially if you’re dancing and using energy!

Getting homeGetting home

Arrange how you’re going to get home before you go out – make sure you’ve got enough spare cash for a cab, take it in turns for one of you not to drink and to be the driver for the evening or make sure you know the time of the last bus or tram home.

quick biteA quick bite

It’s very tempting, especially if you’re going out straight from the office, not to eat. Having a quick sandwich or bowl of cereal before you go out will line your stomach and alcohol will not be absorbed so quickly into the blood stream.

look outLook out for each other

Recent polls show that over 30% of us have taken risks or got into an uncomfortable situation by either going home after a night out on our own or with a stranger. Don’t risk it!… never leave your drink unattended in bars and clubs or accept drinks from complete strangers.

Having friends over

If you’re mixing your own drinks, make sure they’re not too strong – home pours are usually much larger and glasses bigger too. Use plenty of ice and fruit in drinks or use exotic mixers. If guests are mixing their own, have a spirits measure to hand. Check back labels to choose drinks with lower alcohol content and there are some delicious recipes for nonalcoholic alternatives too. Make sure your nibbles and snacks are substantial, watch out for salty snacks as they make you want to drink more! Offer water and imaginative low alcohol or soft drinks, especially if your friends are driving home. If you’re worried a guest has drunk too much, make sure they can get home safely – have the number of a reliable cab firm to hand – arrange for someone to take them home, or offer them a bed for night if needed. glasses

Party planning

When you’re having a party, you want your friends to have a great time, naturally. However you want to be a responsible host too, so here are some simple tips to make sure you all have a good time without things getting out of hand:
If alcohol is served, keep an eye on the size of measures – don't be too generous and try to stick to pub measures and smaller glasses.
  • Offer plenty of water and alcohol free alternatives.
  • Serve food - it really helps to soak up the alcohol.
  • Watch the strength of mix in home made cocktails – use plenty of ice and mixers.
  • If people have had a bit too much to drink, encourage them (very nicely) to have a soft drink. Tell a ‘white lie’ – like the beer has run out!
  • Make sure everyone can get home safely, using a designated driver, public transport, or taxi.
  • Have taxi phone numbers available and if at all possible pre-book.
  • As host make sure to set a good example, drink in moderation.

Safer Summer Holidays

Whatever your age, if you’re going away for sun, sea and well, whatever, have a great time - just try and remember these simple tips:

  • If you travel by air, especially on long flights don’t be tempted to drink too much, even if it is free! Water and soft drinks are a better choice as both alcohol and altitude dehydrate you.
  • Alcohol dehydrates you, and the heat of the sun makes it worse. Take regular breaks and drink at least a litre of water a day.
  • Don't let drink lead you into risky situations, with strangers, swimming pools or unknown places.
  • Mixing drink with sports, from volleyball to rock climbing, can lead to injuries. So play it safe. Likewise, midnight swimming and drinking is never advisable.
  • If you’re going out in the car, decide beforehand who’s going to be your designated driver. It’s their job to make sure you all get home safely.
  • Bars abroad often serve larger measures of spirits than at home so just two vodkas could be the same as four or five at home.
  • When you’re relaxing in a beer garden, on the beach, or at a BBQ, lather on the sun lotion. A combination of hangover and sunburn is enough to spoil anyone’s holiday.
  • In some countries, alcohol is restricted or banned. Consult your guidebook or travel agent before you go, and respect local laws and customs. Apart from being common courtesy, ignoring advice can lead to serious punishment.
  • When waiting for your flight at the airport don’t drink too much as you may not be allowed to travel. Many insurance companies won’t pay up if you have an accident after drinking too much.
  • It is important to check drink drive limits when abroad as they may be lower. Most of Europe has a BAC limit of 0.05 (Sweden 0.02 and Hungary zero) and in the US as well as Canada, it is illegal to have any alcohol in your blood if you’re under 21 and driving. Don’t risk spending your holiday behind bars – nominate one amongst the group to be the designated driver before you go out, book a cab, or use public transport.
© 2000 Alcohol in Moderation. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Disclaimer