How To Drink Beers Without Getting Drunk

It can be super easy for a few drinks to turn into a few too many. But regardless of what your mates are doing, you don’t have to go all out on the beers. Here are some tips to help you enjoy a few drinks without giving in to pressure to get completely wasted.

Set your limits

Before you start drinking, decide how many drinks you'll have and then stick to that number. A bunch of clever scientists have recommended that we have no more than four alcoholic drinks on any day. Everyone's tolerance is different, so choose a number that works for you, rather than for your mates.

You might want to think about how expensive drinks are. Before you head out for the night, check how much money you’ve got and make a sober and sensible decision about what you can afford to spend.

You also need to remember that not all alcoholic drinks contain the same amount of alcohol. See below for what a ‘standard drink’ looks like for different types of drinks.

Take it slow

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Before you launch into your at-home holiday celebration, it’s a good idea to check out a blood alcohol content (BAC) chart, which lets you use your sex and weight to approximate your BAC depending on how much you drink in an hour. Men tend to produce more ADH and have more blood volume, meaning they’ll get drunk a bit slower when downing the same quantities. For most people, the BAC sweet spot—where alcohol helps you feel relaxed, social and euphoric—falls somewhere in between 0.02 and 0.06 percent. As you push towards the brink of legal impairment, or 0.08 percent, these positive feelings start to give way to negative effects, like poor coordination, altered judgment and slurred speech. Get off that climb or you’ll lose your happy buzz completely, and be left instead to grapple with booze’s even more sinister effects, which can include disorientation, negative emotions and puking.

Be mindful

When it comes down to it, getting too drunk is really about the amount of alcohol passing from your glass to your lips—it’s a question of behavior, says Anne Fernandez, a clinical psychologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. It’s easy to intend to only have a few, then end the night with a pile of cans and bottles. But psychology research shows there are ways to reign yourself in. Recent studies suggests mindfulness training might help combat substance use disorders, and the same approach can be useful for anyone toeing the line at a holiday event. Start by compensating for the future, tipsy you by brainstorming ways to be mindful about your drinking in the moment.

“Some people put coins in one pocket and move them to the other with each drink,” Fernandez says. Scheduling a pause to check in with yourself each time you reach for another is an alternative approach. It’s a good time to ask yourself if you might want to slow down by drinking water or opting for a drink with a lower alcohol concentration, like beer instead of liquor, she says.

Avoid drinking rounds and shots

Photo: NPR
Photo: NPR

There’s nothing wrong with buying your mates a drink, but if you’re with a group of seven, it can quickly turn into a full-on, expensive drinking session. That could derail your plans to not get drunk and may break your bank.

It’s also a good idea to stick to drinks you can sip, rather than shots, as it’s easier to space them out. Tell your mates you don’t want a shot, or just conveniently disappear when they’re heading to the bar.

Water and food are your friends

For every alcoholic drink, have a glass of water or a soft drink (you don’t have to tell anyone it’s not alcoholic). Make sure you also have a meal if you’re drinking. It helps to slow the effects of the alcohol and is (hopefully) also delicious.

Focus on other things

Try to join in an activity while you’re drinking, such as playing pool. Remember that if you’re in a bad mood already, drinking alcohol won’t help. Try doing something else that’s relaxing, or talk to someone about what’s on your mind.

******READ MORE: Top 10 Countries Drink the Most Beer

Have a plan B

Get a mate to help keep track of your drinking and remind you to slow down and not do stupid stuff. If that fails, that mate can help look after you if you drink too much.

Before you start drinking, make a plan for where you’ll sleep that night. Put money aside for a taxi or Uber in case you need to get home quickly.

Have a good time

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

You can still have a really good time even if you’re not drinking much. Focus on the people you’re chatting with and the conversation you’re having (or the dancing you’re doing). One of the best parts of not getting drunk is that you’re less likely to have regrets the next morning. Plus, there’s less chance of a hangover, which is always a win!

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