The Real World Calls: 10 Tips For Moving On From Your Binge Drinking Days After College

by Kate Longarzo

At a time when you are about to begin your career and make a life for yourself, health and presentation are more important than ever.

You don’t want to be the one who hits on his or her boss at the Christmas party because you’ve had a few too many. Consistent, embarrassing, drunken behavior can seriously hurt your reputation and ability to lead a responsible life and to succeed as you envision for yourself.

Thus, it's time to move past your binge drinking days and change your habits to support maturation while still having fun. Here are 10 pointers on how to do it:

1. Know your limits:

Even after years of drinking, it can be difficult to know your limits.

After blacking out from drinking, you can’t even REMEMBER when or how you became so drunk. It can gradually turn into an ongoing cycle that repeats itself every weekend. You keep drinking because you don’t know when to stop; you can never really pinpoint when you became wasted.

To learn your limit, start by taking it slow. Don’t chug your drinks at the bar; learn to enjoy them. Take your time! You will actually give your body a chance to digest the alcohol and let it hit your bloodstream, meaning you’ll have a better idea of when you should stop.

Your limit should be when you feel comfortable while still being fully aware of your surroundings. Don’t overindulge. Drink at a pace appropriate for you.

2. You don’t have to say yes to EVERY drink:

I completely understand the temptation of wanting to accept every drink and shot that is offered to you. One time, I went shot for shot with a guy at the bar. I tried to play it cool like, “Oh, I can keep up with you.” Hmm, yeah, hell no.

If you are afraid of being rude, think of it this way: You can either politely turn down the offer or you can take the shot that may put you over the edge.

When I say “over the edge,” I mean you are throwing up on the sidewalk outside of the bar thinking no one is looking, but you’re too drunk to realize you’re only two feet from the door.

3. EAT! 

Don’t skip dinner because you want to look hot in your crop top, okay? I promise you will look better if you do eat because your chances of being able to hold yourself up the whole night will be vastly higher.

Don’t say you sometimes “forget to eat.” I’m sorry, but honestly, who forgets to eat? If you know you’ll be drinking, your first priority should be making sure you have consumed something. Chow down, people.

4. Avoid shots — yes, I’m serious:

Okay, give me a chance to explain. Yes, shots are great in the right situation. In college, they are pretty much the norm. You walk into the bar and hear, “Hey, let’s get shots.” In that setting, it’s completely normal and acceptable for any given night, but later in life, not so much.

Save shots for special occasions. If you take a shot, try to stick to one. If you order round after round, things will get weird.

5. Make mixed drinks instead of “taking pulls”:

Take a sip of Diet Coke, take a sip of bourbon and repeat until drunk -- this is definitely a college mentality that we should move past immediately after graduation.

For your company’s Christmas party, you wouldn't bring your pint of vodka and Sprite to drink straight from the bottles. Let's. Be. Real. You'd get way too drunk, way too fast and would look like an idiot going back and forth between cups.

Find out which drinks you like and learn how to make them. Be aware of how much alcohol is in each drink so that you can use your best judgment to define your limit. Note: Long Island iced teas DO NOT EQUAL your average mixed drink.

6. Know what “one drink” equals:

1.5 ounce shot of liquor (40 percent alcohol)

5 ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol)

8 - 9 ounces of malt liquor (7 percent alcohol)

12 ounces of regular beer (5 percent alcohol)

Not all drinks are created equally. Be educated so that you can determine your limit for each.

7. Stop saying “blackout or back out”:

We're not at our first formal, so just don't.

8. Be aware of the side effects of mixing alcohol with certain medications:

One word: antibiotics. In college, you may have celebrated being on antibiotics because, hey, you get drunk quickler!

However, mixing alcohol with any medication can be extremely dangerous if you are not properly educated. Ask your doctor about the side effects of a medication when mixed with alcohol and actually listen. You are responsible for your life. Your health and wellbeing should always come first.

9. Don’t be drunk when you leave the house:

There should be no more excessive pregames in which you stumble out of the cab on the way into the bar.

After many lessons learned, I realized that leaving the house drunk will almost always result in terribly questionable decisions for rest of the night. By the time you finish your first drink at the bar, you could be confessing your love to the bartender.

10. Order water at the bar when you need to:

There is NO SHAME in doing this.

Order some water, please. You’ll stay hydrated, which will make you feel better in the morning and it’ll give you a break from drinking, which will give your body time to digest your last drink. Take a break and just enjoy the people and conversations around you.

Don’t ever feel like you have to be drinking alcohol at the bar, or in any given social situation, for that matter.

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