For many people, drinking alcohol is considered a rite of passage into adulthood. However, when you first start drinking, it can be difficult to know where to start, how to stay safe, and how to avoid those dreaded hangovers! The most important thing to remember as a new drinker is to always take it at your own pace – only drink if and when you want. If you do make the decision to start drinking, here are a few tips to make things a little easier (and more fun!) for first-time drinkers.
When you first start drinking at a pub, it’s easy to overdo it: you’re having fun after two drinks, so surely four drinks will double the fun, right? Until you gain some experience and understand your limits, it’s best to take it slow. Your night won’t be very much fun if you spend it crouching over a toilet bowl, or if you can’t remember anything the next day. Learning your limits does involve a certain amount of trial and error. However, if you start to feel nauseous, uncomfortable, or simply stop enjoying yourself, then that’s a good indication that you’re reaching your limit for the night. Remember, just because you start a drink, that doesn’t mean you have to finish it.
Stay Hydrated and Line Your Stomach!
Alcohol may feel like it’s quenching your thirst at the time but it actually has a dehydrating effect on the body. A large part of why hangovers feel so dreadful is because you wake up dehydrated. To dampen your chances of a killer hangover the next day, try to drink a 500ml glass of water before you go to sleep (sip it slowly to avoid feeling nauseous!) and remember to drink lots of water the next day. A sports drink or an electrolyte powder mixed with water may also help you feel better by replenishing some of the minerals your body loses when it’s dehydrated.
Not every drink has to be alcoholic – mix things up by ordering a glass of water, a fizzy drink or a juice. That way, you still feel like you’re participating, but you’re also giving your body a break and getting in some valuable hydration!
Always make sure that you’ve lined your stomach. Drinking on an empty stomach not only messes with your alcohol tolerance by making you get drunk more easily (in an unpredictable way), but it can also make you feel unwell and ruin your evening. Eating a balanced meal that includes carbohydrates and fats provides a good foundation for a safe and fun night of drinking.
Always ensure that you have a way of getting home and never get behind the wheel or let any of your friends drive under the influence of alcohol. Never leave your drink unattended, whether it’s at a bar, a house party or a restaurant because, unfortunately, there are people out there who might want to tamper with it.
As difficult as it might be to resist, don’t allow others to pressure you into drinking more than you are comfortable with – drinking alcohol doesn’t inherently make you ‘cooler’, or ‘boring’ if you decide not to. Only drink if you’re having fun, it’s your choice and you enjoy it.