Safe drinking

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By B.T. Chelmsford, contributor

People go to bars for many reasons: to catch a sports game on the big screen, play a game of pool, chat with friends, or just have a drink. If you’re over 19, well nourished and emotionally stable, a moderate amount of alcohol probably won’t hurt. There’s always fun to be had in a bar without over consuming. You’ll enjoy a safe evening, meet fun, reasonable people who won’t ruin your shoes, and you’ll arrive home in good shape. Who can argue with that?

Things to remember:

1. Food is your friend

Don’t drink on an empty stomach and feel free to snack while you’re drinking. Food slows alcohol absorption and can protect your stomach from the harsher effects of alcohol.

2. Drinking games can be dumb and deadly

Avoid drinking games. They’re unattractive and potentially messy, especially when the contents of someone’s stomach end up on your shoes. Heavy drinking can also lead to unacceptable behavior, including vandalism and violence. Injuries are also common, including alcohol poisoning, cuts and bruises from tripping or falling down stairs. Some sustain brain damage. Some end up dead.

3. You can’t drown your sorrows

Drowning your sorrows in alcohol doesn’t actually work, because alcohol is a depressive. When you’re down, no amount of beer will improve your circumstances. Instead, find somebody to talk to. And remember, you’ll get better support from a sober acquaintance in a private place than from a plastered partier who can’t hear you over the music in the bar.

4. Don’t drink alone

Solitary boozing can become a bad habit that leads to higher alcohol consumption. Besides, it’s not as much fun as having a pint with a friend.

5. Drink to your own drummer

Pace yourself. Generally one drink per hour is a safe limit, although even that can be too much for some people. Your stomach’s natural reaction to “pounding” drinks is to void all contents quickly. This is not a good experience for you, your friends or your floor. And if you don’t want to drink, don’t. You’ll probably meet people who aggressively encourage their companions to keep drinking. Don’t feel guilty turning them down. You’re free to say no.

6. Drinks and date-rape drugs

Refusing a drink can be a matter of personal security, especially if you suspect someone might have access to date-rape drugs such as GHB and Rohypnol, drugs used by sexual predators to sedate a victim. If someone ingests a drink spiked with one of these drugs, they’ll feel nauseated or dizzy, possibly let their guard down and be coerced into a private place. After falling unconscious, the victim can be sexually assaulted and not recall anything about the incident. To avoid ingesting a date-rape drug, never accept a drink from someone you don’t know and trust, and don’t leave your glass unattended.

7. Don’t drink and drive

Drinking and driving is a serious offence. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your judgment and reduce your driving skills. A bus or taxi is the right choice after an evening at a party or bar. And BC Transit has late-night service to UBCO. There’s always fun to be had in a bar without over consuming. You’ll enjoy a safe evening, meet fun, reasonable people who won’t ruin your shoes, and you’ll arrive home in good shape. Who can argue with that?