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How can you be safer when using alcohol?

Drinking alcohol affects everyone differently, but there are lots of ways you can reduce risk when drinking alcohol. 

Stay hydrated by drinking a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink. Alcohol is dehydrating, and not drinking enough water can also make a hangover worse. Eating a meal high in fat before you drink can also help your body process alcohol more slowly.

Think about your own tolerance for alcohol- everyone is different. How much one person can drink and still feel sober can make another person feel unwell. Try not to base what you are drinking on how much the people around you are drinking. If you are new to drinking alcohol, consider starting with something with a lower alcohol content.

Avoid mixing alcohol with other drugs (including prescription or over the counter). Many of these can make effects of alcohol more unpleasant or unpredictable. If you take medication or supplements regularly, speak with your doctor or a health professional about how these might interact with alcohol.

Make a plan to keep yourself safe when you're drinking. Drinking can affect your ability to make decisions as it can change the way you judge situations. Planning how to get home safely,  thinking about safe sex practices (using condoms to prevent STIs) and sticking with your mates are all helpful to think about before you start drinking. When out drinking, be aware of leaving your drink unattended or accepting drinks brought to you by people you do not know or trust.

For more information on how to be safer when using drugs and alcohol, see Safer using. 

To order self-help workbooks and other free resources for safer use, see Resources. 

One Erowid user reflects on their tolerance to alcohol:

“As a skinny girl, my tolerance was about 3 beers before I was feeling pretty drunk and would want to go to sleep. After a bad break up in ’04, I started drinking every day and saw my tolerance skyrocket.”

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