November 23, 2023

Tips for drinking less during the silly season

Group of people toasting at dinner

With the end of year fast approaching again – many of us will have some big events planned with friends or family. This might include weddings, getaways, work functions or going out on the weekend with friends.

If you’re planning to drink alcohol but want to avoid drinking too much – there are plenty of ways to manage this.

The Australian drinking guidelines recommend having no more than 4 standards drinks in one day, and no more than 10 standard drinks in a week to reduce the chance of accidents, injuries and disease.

We’ve also put together some suggestions below.

How to avoid a hangover

Here are some helpful tips for enjoying your night out, and also avoiding that next day hangover:

  1. Don’t have pre-drinks before you go out. Studies have shown that having drinks before an event increases the amount you drink and can up your risk of hospital admissions or other accidents or injuries.1-4
  2. Set a drinking limit before the event and stick to it. Don’t feel pressured to drink heavily just because someone else is covering the tab, offering you a drink or ordering a round of shots.
  3. Eat before and during the event. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Alcohol takes longer to be absorbed by your body when there is food in the stomach.5-7
  4. Pace your alcoholic drinks. Drink water or non-alcoholic drinks like soft-drink, soda water or juice between beer, wine or spirits.
  5. Don’t drink and drive. Alcohol impacts your ability to drive safely.8-11 The legal limit for alcohol consumption while operating a motor vehicle in Australia is 0.05 blood alcohol content (BAC). But, it can be difficult to measure how much you’re affected. Alcohol impacts everyone differently depending on their weight, height, drinking habits and amount drunk. The safest option is to organise another way home, like catching public transport, ordering an uber or taxi, or assigning someone to be a designated driver.
  6. Avoid taking other drugs. Mixing alcohol and illicit drugs can increase your risk of harmful side effects and make you feel worse the next day. If you’re taking prescription medications, check with your doctor if you’re able to drink alcohol while taking them.

Organising an event or party

If you are organising a party or BBQ to celebrate a special event, here are some tips to make sure everyone has an enjoyable time without feeling like they have to drink too much.

  1. Consider the time of your event and the venue. Schedule your event for during the day, rather than the evening. Consider organising your party at a venue other than a bar - like an escape room, bowling alley or a park.
  2. Provide food. Ensure your event provides food, preferably substantial hot food rather than salty or sugar-laden snacks. This will help people who are drinking from getting drunk too quickly.
  3. Provide a selection of non-alcoholic drinks. This could include water and soft drinks, but you could also provide non-alcoholic beer, wines and other spirits as an option.
  4. Provide entertainment. Plan activities such as karaoke, sports, lawn bowls, trivia, dancing or games. This will make sure people have something to focus on other than drinking.
  5. Impose a limit on the bar tab or amount of alcohol purchased if you’re providing alcohol. An unlimited bar or large amount of drinks encourages people to drink more than they might otherwise.

Related content

  1. Labhart F, Graham K, Wells S, Kuntsche E. Drinking before going to licensed premises: an event-level analysis of predrinking, alcohol consumption, and adverse outcomes. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2013;37(2):284-91.
  2. Hughes K, Anderson Z, Morleo M, Bellis MA. Alcohol, nightlife and violence: the relative contributions of drinking before and during nights out to negative health and criminal justice outcomes. Addiction. 2008;103(1):60-5.
  3. Foster JH, Ferguson C. Alcohol ‘Pre-loading’: A Review of the Literature. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 2013;49(2):213-26.
  4. Barton A. Controlling pre‐loaders: alcohol related violence in an English night time economy. Drugs and Alcohol Today. 2012;12(2):89-97.
  5. Cederbaum AI. Alcohol metabolism. Clin Liver Dis. 2012;16(4):667-85.
  6. Holt S. Observations on the relation between alcohol absorption and the rate of gastric emptying. Can Med Assoc J. 1981;124(3):267-97.
  7. Watkins RL, Adler EV. The effect of food on alcohol absorption and elimination patterns. J Forensic Sci. 1993;38(2):285-91.
  8. Nagata T, Setoguchi S, Hemenway D, Perry M. Effectiveness of a law to reduce alcohol-impaired driving in Japan. Injury prevention : journal of the International Society for Child and Adolescent Injury Prevention. 2008;14:19-23.
  9. National Academies of Sciences E, Medicine. Getting to Zero Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities: A Comprehensive Approach to a Persistent Problem. Teutsch SM, Geller A, Negussie Y, editors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2018. 606 p.
  10. Hall WD, Cobiac LJ, Doran CM, Vos T, Wallace AL. How can we reduce alcohol-related road crash deaths among young Australians? 2010:464.
  11. Sheppard L, Killoran A, Canning U, Doyle N. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths. : Centre for Public Health Excellence, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence; 2010.

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