How to Navigate Social Drinking: Drinker and Non-Drinker Edition

Let’s start with this: there’s a legal drinking age and if you’re under it, then by law you are not allowed to drink. That said, let’s add this: while not everyone chooses to drink alcohol in high school, you or your friends may find yourselves in settings where people are drinking. 

First things first: know that it is totally okay if you decide that you don’t want to drink. Peer pressure is a real thing (not just something adults go on and on about) and most of us worry that people will look at us differently if we say no - not just about drinking, by the way! Peer pressure applies to tons of things in our lives and doesn’t end when the teen years are over. 

So what are some strategies to use if you’re somewhere that people are drinking? You can...

  1. Do: hold a cup (let’s be honest, it’s probably going to be a red solo cup!) like everyone else but either don’t drink from it or replace the alcohol with water or soda.
  2. Say: I’m on medication and I can’t drink.
  3. Say: I can’t drink because my parents test me (breathalyzer or urine test) when I get home from parties.
  4. Say: I can’t drink because I signed a contract with my coach.
  5. Say: I’m allergic to alcohol and it makes me seriously sick.
  6. Say: I’m the designated driver tonight and need to drive everyone home.

If you do make the decision to drink*, here are some tips to make sure you stay safe. 

  1. Never leave your drink unattended. If you have a drink in hand and need to go to the bathroom, no big deal. Either give the drink to someone who you trust or throw that drink away and when you come back from the bathroom, you can decide if you want to get a new one.
  2. Make sure you have a friend or buddy that you can check in with throughout the night - an “accountability partner.” This is the person that you can create a plan with before drinking or going to a party so you are both on the same page.
  3. Keep track of what you are drinking and how much you are drinking. 
  4. Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water and also have food in your stomach before you start drinking. 
  5. Don’t mix different types of alcohol - this can definitely make you sick.
  6. If you drink too much and don’t feel well, don’t deal with it by taking medications. Instead, let someone know you feel sick - let them help you determine whether you need to call for help. 

Similar to drinking, some of your friends may choose to smoke weed, vape or smoke cigarettes. If you find yourself in a situation where people around you are smoking and you don’t want to partake, here are some things you can say: 

  1. I’m good.
  2. Smoking doesn’t make me feel good, but I don’t mind if you want to smoke.
  3. I’m going to pass for tonight, thanks though. 
  4. I have asthma/breathing issues, so I can’t smoke.

If you do choose to smoke weed, vape or smoke cigarettes*, similar to alcohol, here are some tips to make sure that you stay safe: 

  1. Never smoke something that came from someone who you don’t know or trust. 
  2. Never smoke something that was left unattended and you are unsure of who could have touched it or used it while it wasn’t with you 
  3. Make sure that you have someone who you are with if you choose to smoke (especially weed). This person can create a plan with you so that you are both on the same page. 
  4. Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated.
  5. If you smoke too much and begin to feel sick, tell someone. It is more important to make sure that you are okay and safe than to worry about repercussions. Go to someone that you trust and allow them to help you assess whether you should call for help. 

*Big OOMLA note here: We’re NOT saying that underage kids should decide to drink, smoke, or use any other drugs! But in order to keep kids as safe and healthy as possible, we feel like we need to include what to do if you opt to. If we didn’t, we’d be pretending the situation didn’t exist and that, in many ways, is even less safe. 

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