Summer break, graduation, the end of finals–there are plenty of reasons to celebrate! As many of us prepare for life’s transitions, it may feel like a time to celebrate or let loose. Heightened emotions, including excitement or uncertainty, can cause people to take more risks while drinking or using other substances. Here are some tips for celebrating safely at the end of the year.
Reflect on your intentions
It’s important to remember that not everyone uses substances while in college. If you choose to drink or use drugs, think through the experiences you want to have as well as those you’d rather avoid. Here are some examples to help you reflect on your intentions before going out:
If I use ___[substance]___, I want to…
If I use ___[substance]___, I don’t want to…
If you’re interested in exploring your relationship with substances or learning more about alcohol and other drugs, check out our Alcohol and Other Drugs resource page.
Pick and choose
Going out can be fun, but if you’re tired, need to make it to work or just need some downtime, it’s okay to stay in. Prioritize your own needs and what will make you feel good long term, not just in the moment. If you choose to drink, be mindful of how alcohol may affect you.
Set a limit and know your ‘no’
Alcohol affects everyone differently. This means that our tolerance and limits may look different from those around us. Before you go out, set a limit that feels right for you. It can be helpful to enlist a friend to keep you both accountable for your drinking. Remember to go at your own pace and avoid trying to keep up with others.
If you are worried you may be pressured to drink or use drugs in ways you’re not comfortable with, know your ‘no.’ These strategies can help you manage peer pressure and avoid uncomfortable situations.
You can use one or all of these strategies to stay safe while celebrating. You can also come up with your own strategies if these don’t feel like a good fit for you.
If you choose to drink, remember to eat a snack or meal and drink water before you start drinking. It’s also important to stay hydrated throughout the day/night. Try switching between water and alcoholic drinks. You can also bring a snack or pick up takeout on your way if you get hungry.
Avoid mixing drugs with alcohol, including prescription medications. This can increase the risk of overdose. It can also lead to additional unwanted experiences like passing out, blacking out, feeling sick and doing something regrettable.
Make a plan and stick to it
Make plans with friends before going out and stick to them. If plans need to change, talk about it together. Ensure that everyone gets home safe by designating a driver, taking public transit or using a rideshare like Lyft or Uber. Never leave someone behind with people you just met or don’t know very well.
Take care of your friends
If someone is exhibiting signs of alcohol poisoning or an overdose, call 911 for help.