In college, partying happens. Quite a bit, actually. Whether it’s a house party or a bar, chances are you’ll probably attend some sort of college event with alcohol present. Alcohol makes you feel a bit more confident, a little readier to stay up late making memories (or not, depending on the night), and is often a precursor to making you feel like trash the next day. But whether you’re new to the party scene or a weathered warrior, it’s never bad to be reminded of what proper party conduct is, and what some real party fouls are.
Starting the Night Off
- DON’T dress impractically. Of course, everyone likes to dress to impress, but that doesn’t mean wearing a short, sleeveless dress and high heels in the middle of the winter. While it may be tempting to just “drink more to stay warm,” at the end of the day you’re safest wearing something you know will keep you protected against the elements as you’re walking outside.
- DO eat before going out. It only takes one night of a liquid-only diet to realize how helpful food is in the whole drinking process. Failure to eat before you head out will certainly result in a faster buzz but at the price of a very upset stomach. Not eating beforehand could also put you in a dangerous situation – drinking on an empty stomach quickens your absorption of alcohol and can lead you to become dangerously drunk.
- DO charge your phone before going out. The last thing you want to deal with at the end of the night is a dead phone. Your phone is your lifeline to finding your friends and getting a ride home (Pro tip: don’t spend the entire night filming everything that happens, and then you definitely won’t have a dead phone to deal with!)
- DON’T overdo it with pregaming. Pregaming is a pretty common option that can save you money since you’ll probably have to purchase fewer drinks at the bar, but make sure you don’t overdo it and drink too heavily. Shoot for a low-grade buzz and pace yourself.
- DO bring the essentials out to the bar. Essentials include keys, sufficient cash, your charged phone, and your ID. Avoid bringing your credit card to the bar – you might overspend without realizing it. Bring enough cash to cover you for the night, or as much as you are willing to spend. This is also good practice for students on a budget (i.e. basically all of us in college).
Where to Go & Being Safe
- DO head off campus for your drinking endeavors. Obviously, be smart about where you go but being off-campus ensures you’re not breaking any dry campus rules (if your college or university has those). And above all: don’t attend or throw parties in the residence halls where alcohol is off-limits! If your RA catches you throwing a party, you’ll have a lot more than a hangover to deal with.
- DO have a meetup and exit plan. Look everyone has cellphones, so before you head out or jump to a new party, send a quick text just confirming where you and your friends are meeting up and which party you’re going to. People get easily distracted once they’re drinking and might not hear their phone over the music, conversations, bar noise, etc. Don’t get stuck alone or left behind.
- DON’T wander off alone. Drinking can cause impaired judgment so it’s important to have a don’t-ever-wander-off-by-yourself policy. It’s simple really: don’t walk alone, don’t go upstairs at a party by yourself, and don’t go somewhere with people you don’t know.
- DO know the safest route home. Eventually, everyone has to go home. Try to know ahead of time the best way for you to get back to your place. Can you walk with friends? Take a campus shuttle? If all else fails, calls an Uber or taxi. Just make sure you know the safest options before you start drinking.
While You’re Out
- DON’T leave your drink unattended. This applies to any bar or house party you may go to. Chances are you won’t have any issues with people spiking your drink, but the risk is always there. On that same theme, don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know unless you watched the drink being made.
- DO respect your host’s house. Hosting a party is hard enough between crowd control, noise control, cleaning up messes, playing the DJ, and cleaning up the day after the big event. The goal is to not make their life harder than it already is.
- Their property is off-limits, no matter how much you might want to snatch that scented hand soap from their bathroom.
- Bring alcohol only, not drugs, to someone’s house party – you don’t want to be inconsiderate and potentially put your hosts at additional legal risk.
- And although you might be tempted to dance on tables, don’t – you might break them, and there’s nothing worse for a host than broken furniture, especially if it’s something like a kitchen table which they have to use all the time!
- DON’T get sloppy drunk. No one likes taking care of the friend who drank too much and is now incapable of fending for themselves. Know your limit. One standard drink is equal to 12 oz. of beer, 1.5 oz. of hard liquor (either in a shot or mixed drink), or 5 oz. of wine. Make sure you pace yourself appropriately because what seems like a slight buzz can quickly turn into intoxication if you consume too much too quickly.
- DO drink water. This is especially important right before you head to bed, but remember water is key in helping keep the hangover at bay or minimized the next day. Make sure you’re drinking water between drinks as well. A common myth is that water will make you less drunk. Water will not do that; water consumption simply allows your body to rehydrate itself faster and decrease your hangover the next day.
- DON’T drive drunk. Designate a driver, for goodness sake! There should be no reason to even consider driving under the influence. Aside from all the legal ramifications, you’re genuinely putting lives at risk when getting on the road intoxicated. If you’re not within walking distance of your home, choose Uber, Lyft, or a designated driver. Paying a few bucks is certainly worth it.
- DO seek medical attention for someone showing signs of alcohol poisoning. A fun night out can take a turn for the worse if someone in your group has way too much to drink and begins to show signs of alcohol poisoning, which can ultimately be deadly if not treated.
- Symptoms include: excessive vomiting, irregular breathing, blue-tinged or unusually pale skin, low body temperature, and inability to be awakened if they pass out.
- Alcohol poisoning is serious. People can die. If you think someone is showing signs of alcohol poisoning full stop call 911. Don’t put them to bed, don’t let them keep drinking, don’t hope it’ll wear off.
- Often people don’t call for help because they’re either afraid they’ll get in trouble for underage drinking or they’ll get their friends in trouble. Fortunately, medical amnesty laws exist to protect the help-seekers or the victim from liability. These laws exist in many states, but not all. Check to see if your state has incorporated the medical amnesty law. But remember, even if it hasn’t, don’t hesitate to call for help if your friend is in trouble.
And At the End of the Day…
DON’T feel like you have to go out, even if all your friends are.
Alcohol is certainly not the healthiest thing we can put in our bodies. If you’re feeling tired, sick, or just need a break from being social, don’t go out! There’ll always be opportunities to go out, and I promise, FOMO will just cost you a lot of mental energy you don’t need to waste. Also, don’t feel like you have to drink in college to have a good time. There are plenty of ways to have a good time without incorporating alcohol.