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Planning for safer drinking

19 December 2006

Planning for safer drinking

With the festive season upon us, Bay of Plenty District Health Board’s Community Alcohol and Drug team has some safer drinking advice to offer.

Leading up to the social occasion
• Eat substantial meals on the day, and especially plan to eat dinner before you head out at night. Ideally, include food that’s filling such as pasta, bread, potatoes or rice.
• Plan ahead and prepare to eat your dinner a little earlier to avoid you running out of time, or losing the motivation to cook before you head out.
• Remember that food will help to soak up the alcohol content. Conversely, you are more likely to get intoxicated very quickly on an empty stomach, and increase the probability of you vomiting and feeling sick.
• Drink plenty of fluids before the event, preferably water. Water helps dilute the alcohol in your system. It also helps to prevent hangovers.
• Do not drink alcohol whilst you are getting ready/dressed to go out. Instead, sip on water. Have your first alcoholic drink when you are out.
• Make a plan on your upper limit of alcohol intake during the evening. Perhaps buy a certain number of pre-mixed drinks to take with you. This will help you keep a tally of your drinks.
• Get up early on the day of the event, and have a full day’s activities. This will ensure that you are naturally tired later in the evening, so going home early to bed seems more appealing than going on into town at midnight.
• If appropriate, plan to be the sober driver for your friends, family or partner. This should ensure that you do not drink at all, or drink only one or two units of alcohol.

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At the event
• Make your first drink of the evening a non-alcoholic drink (an orange juice or ‘lemon lime and bitters’). Ease into the social occasion without having to rely on alcohol.
• Pour your own drinks. If others continually top up your glass, you will be unable to keep track of the number of drinks you’ve had. Likewise, avoid having others mix drinks with spirits (vodka, rum) for you, as you will be unable to accurately gauge how much alcohol is in each drink. This is especially true the more intoxicated you become, as you may not be able to taste it.
• Alternate every second drink with a non-alcoholic drink. If at a bar, having a ‘lemon lime and bitters’ this comes typically in a bottle, which will make you feel like you are holding a beer or RTD, and other’s won’t even notice the difference.
• Dilute your drinks. If you usually drink white wine, make it a ‘white wine spritzer’ (white wine with soda water or lemonade).
• Drink low-alcohol drinks.
• Whenever you go to the bar/kitchen, order a glass of tap water and drink it on the spot. This will help to keep you well hydrated, lowering your intoxication levels (you’ll feel more ‘with it’) and will again fight that looming hangover.
• Don’t gulp - sip. Put down your drink between sips. However, avoid this if you are out in public or at a bar as this can leave you open to having your drink spiked.
• Savour the taste of the drink, rather than the effect.
• If there is food available at the event, nibble on this. This will help keep food in your stomach to help soak up the alcohol and minimise your intoxication.
• Avoid eating very salty food such as chips or salted peanuts as these will make you thirsty and will make you want to drink more.
• If there is no food at the event, pop out and grab a sandwich or burger from a local shop.
• Ensure you have a support person at the occasion who knows you are keeping to a safe drinking plan. This person can give you encouragement and support throughout the night/occasion.
• Avoid activities at the event that focus on drinking (such as drinking games, wine tasting). Keep busy with other games (pool, darts, cards, board games), play with the kids, or busy yourself in the kitchen.
• Avoid rounds/shouts with groups of friends.
• Avoid having shots with friends. If friends offer a shot, politely decline.
• Remember that you have the right to be able to say no.
• f you are at a friend’s house (party, summer barbeque), make a hot drink, and offer to make a hot drink for anyone else (you might be surprised at how many other’s accept your offer of a tea or hot chocolate).
• Plan to leave at a certain time, and simply leave when this time rolls around.
• Plan a legitimate reason to leave the event early. For example, plan to have to get up for something exciting or adventurous in the morning.

When you get home
• Drink a couple of glasses of water before you go to bed. This will help to fight any hangover.
• Eat some food (sandwich, toast, leftovers) before you go to bed. Avoid eating anything that takes time to make (fried food, pies in the oven), in case you fall asleep while you wait. Many house fires begin this way.
• The next day, take the time to reflect on how well you feel (no hangover), and make a point of going out and enjoying the day to the full.


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