Of course you knew you’d have to go to classes and take tests in college, but earning that degree is probably only half the reason you enrolled. Getting a taste of college life and freedom is often a motivating factor for college-bound students, and that typically means going to college parties. While you should let loose and meet new people at your first college party, it’s more important that you stay safe and survive to make it to the next bash. It’s easy to let things get out of hand when you’re around alcohol, attractive co-eds, and peer pressure, but take control of the situation with these six tips so you can have a safe, good time.
- Eat before you go:
If you choose to drink, do it wisely. Drinking more than you ever have before, at a place where you probably don’t know everyone is not smart. By eating before you go to the party, you can delay the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream, allowing you to feel the effects of the alcohol more slowly. This will hopefully keep you from getting dangerously drunk or sick as you drink throughout the night. You may have heard the idea of skipping a real meal and “drinking your dinner,” but that is not a move you want to make at your very first party.
- Drink slowly:
Another way to prevent yourself from getting inebriated too quickly (and maybe making bad decisions) is to pace yourself with your drinking. Don’t shotgun beers, play drinking games, or take shots. Those activities can be saved for a time when you know your limits and are surrounded by people you know and trust. Drink slowly and take a break when you feel like you’re losing control. And if you feel pressured to keep drinking when you’ve hit your limit, fill your cup with soda or water to sip on until you feel better.
- Watch out for the friends you came with:
Using the buddy system can help you avoid many dangerous situations, like disappearing with someone you don’t know or drinking too much and embarrassing yourself (or worse). Before you head out to the party, make sure you and a couple of friends have agreed to look out for each other all night. Even if your friends insist they’re OK and will find a way home, don’t leave them behind, and make sure they know to do the same for you. This isn’t just a good rule of thumb for your first party, but for any party where you don’t know at least half of the attendees.
- Don’t take drinks from strangers:
If dangerous strangers all looked as menacing as they do in movies, this tip would be moot. But the truth is that even an acquaintance or someone you’ve seen around campus can have less-than-noble intentions. Besides the possibility of being slipped the date-rape drug or another drug, anytime you don’t see your drink mixed, you lose the ability to gauge how much you’re drinking and stay in control. Even if someone is just being nice, if they’ve been drinking, they’re likely to give you more alcohol than you should have. You don’t have to rudely refuse the drink; just say you’re only drinking beer or a certain mixed drink and have them accompany you as you make your own drink. Better safe than sorry.
- Have a plan (or two) for getting home:
Even if you’ve been pacing yourself, you will probably be too intoxicated by the end of the night to drive safely home. Prepare for this situation before you head out to the party so you won’t be tempted to put yourself and others in danger by getting behind the wheel. Some options: assign a designated driver, pool money for a cab ride, or use your school’s safe ride service if there is one. You won’t regret thinking ahead, but you will regret driving drunk when you get in a car accident or are charged with a DUI.
- Know what to do in an emergency:
Even if you’re being smart with your drinking and partying, other people, including your friends, may not be. It’s important to know what to do when an emergency situation arises, just in case. Binge drinking is a common problem at college parties and can lead to alcohol poisoning, a dangerous condition that can lead to brain damage or death. Learn the signs of alcohol poisoning, and seek medical help if you suspect someone has it. If someone is injured or assaulted, use common sense and never avoid calling for help because you’re afraid you’ll get in trouble. Your friend’s life is more important than the police breaking up the party.