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What You Need to Know About Drinking

Suggestions to help yourself and your friends stay safe.

Illustration by Hattie

The first time I drank was in ninth grade. I had root beer and tequila in my parents’ basement with a girl from up the block. I got tipsy; she got trashed. We spent the next four hours calling boys on the phone until she eventually collapsed in tears, because nobody had a crush on her. I went to bed pissed, because I “wasn’t in the mood for drama.”

There is a lot more to drinking than just consuming alcohol. Getting drunk can bring out the funniest, stupidest, most violent, worst in people. With drinking comes relationship drama, safety concerns, social tension, and vomit. Sometimes lots of vomit. Obviously, waiting until you’re of legal age is the best and least risky choice when it comes to drinking. Some people never drink alcohol at all. But in the event that you find yourself with a drink in your hand, or around others who are drinking, you’re going to need to know some stuff. This is not an endorsement of underage boozing by any means, but rather a safety guide, because it’s always better to be knowledgeable and prepared.

Helping Yourself

1. Whatever your reasons for drinking, chances are they don’t include getting sick and/or ruining your night. Keep this in mind: you have the rest of your life to drink alcohol if you want to, and I’m telling you this so you don’t feel compelled to drink everything you can get your hands on in one sitting. When I first starting drinking, there was this notion among my friends that we had to drink as much as we could as fast as we could, because otherwise somebody was going to come and take it away. THIS IS THE DUMBEST LOGIC AND THE QUICKEST WAY TO BARF OR DIE. If you are going to drink, be safe about it. Drink one drink, and then wait 20 to 30 minutes before having more. Have a glass of water between every drink. An average of one drink per hour is reasonable. See how you feel. “Drunk” doesn’t just arrive unannounced. There are signs. Does your stomach hurt? Is the room spinning? Are you having trouble walking? Stop drinking. Find a friend to make sure you get home OK. As you get older, you might come to know your limits more intuitively, but in the beginning, it’s important to actively work on pacing yourself.

2. Eat before you drink. I’m talking real, preferably absorbent meals, like pizza or pasta or something substantial, not, like, half a baby carrot. Drinking on an empty stomach = a not-so-free ride in an ambulance. Like I said, remember to drink water. Not just before drinking, but all night long. A big component of being hungover is dehydration. Drinking water throughout the night helps alleviate this.

3. Know what and how much you are drinking. This is a lot harder to ascertain at parties and in circumstances where drinking isn’t legal. My favorite drink in high school was one inch of alcohol from every bottle in my parents’ liquor cabinet, plus juice. I don’t recommend this AT ALL. If you totally ignore the rest of my advice, pleasepleaseplease make an effort to know how much you are drinking. Measure things out if you can (one shot glass of liquor = one drink). If you are at a party and somebody offers you a mixture of unknown booze, say no! Who knows what’s in it? In the best-case scenario, you will pour your own drinks, because nobody cares about your own safety as much as you do/should. If you accept a drink from a stranger, or even from a friend, you have no idea what’s in it, because you can’t know how carefully they were watching when it was poured. If something doesn’t feel right, stop drinking that drink.

4. Watch your drink. After you pour it yourself, don’t leave it on the end table while you go to the bathroom. Don’t even give it to a friend to watch, because honestly, they aren’t going to sit there and stare at a Solo cup for 20 minutes while you wait in the bathroom line. Just take it with you, and if you forget, get another one. I say this to help you avoid seriously dangerous stuff, like people adding more booze or more-potent substances to your drink, but also to help you avoid gross shit like people peeing/spitting/putting random condiments in it. Drunk people have the worst sense of humor.

5. Know your rights. Laws and penalties for underage drinking vary from place to place. In some states, “internal possession” laws have become popular, making it easier for police officers to arrest you if they can determine that alcohol is in your body (as in on your breath), even though you might not be holding a container or drink.

There are some basic things you can do to try and avoid trouble. If the police come to the door of your party—say, as a response to a noise complaint—step outside and close the door behind you. Have someone turn the music down and usher everyone inside off the porch. In most jurisdictions, police cannot enter your home unless they have witnessed illegal activity, or unless you give them permission to enter. (That said, check the laws in your own city before you host or attend a party.) Ask the officer, “Can I help you with something?” Be polite and keep your answers brief. In the event that you are arrested or detained, say that you will not answer questions until you have a lawyer present. If you are not sure if you are being detained, ask the officer, “Am I free to go?”

Be aware that your parents can get in serious, expensive legal trouble for “permitting” underage drinking in their house, even if they had no idea it was happening. People over 21 can get in trouble for buying you alcohol, and your friends who are 18 or older can get busted for child endangerment if they’re caught drinking with you. And yes, your fake ID is illegal, even if it’s a real ID that once belonged to your older sister. Knowing your rights will help you make choices that make you feel safe. If you live in the United States, this is a good resource to read.

6. Don’t drive. Don’t get in a car with someone who’s been drinking. Just don’t ever do it. I don’t care if your mom is the leader of a temperance movement, I guarantee you that your parents would much rather you sleep over at someone’s house or call them for a ride than risk it. Getting in trouble is wholly preferable to death.

Helping others

1. Be a friend. Look out for others as much as you hope they’d look out for you. This is a super broad rule of thumb that encompasses a lot of simple considerations. Here are some basic ones: (a) Don’t pressure other people to drink, ever, and never more than they are comfortable with. Defend people who’ve said they’ve had enough. (b) Keep an eye on your friends. Is everyone you arrived with still at the party? If you haven’t seen a friend in a while, text them. Look for them. Likewise, if you are going somewhere, like to the porch to make out (get it, girl!), try to let a friend know so they don’t worry. If you are leaving with a different group than you came with, check in with your ride to make sure that everyone’s OK and that you aren’t abandoning anyone.

2. Be mad in the morning. Drinking breeds drama. Ill-advised hookups happen. Mean things are said. When a drunk person messes with you, you are going to want to be mad RIGHT THEN, especially if you have been drinking. Trust me, don’t bother. Arguing when drunk is never fruitful, and both sides run the risk of saying things they don’t mean. It’s best to just remove yourself from the situation and deal with it in the morning when everyone’s sobered up.

3. Don’t have sex with drunk people. Hell, if you have even the slightest inkling that someone can’t give informed consent, don’t even graze their butt with the back of your hand. Consent is an explicit statement that says, “Yes, I want to do [sexytimes activity] with you,” but it doesn’t count if the person saying it is too drunk to know what they mean. Some people refer to drunk sex as a gray area, because there are (tons of) people who get it on while drunk and don’t regret it. I can’t delineate gray areas, so I will stick to the facts. When you are drunk, your judgment and motor skills are impaired. Period. Ask yourself questions like: “Would I feel comfortable letting this person pick out an outfit for an important event right now?” or “Could they tie their shoes?” If their state of mind does not allow for this kind of basic consideration or dexterity, they definitely don’t have it together enough to make decisions about whom to sleep with or how to operate birth control correctly. If you have any doubts here, back off. Likewise, if you see somebody going for it with someone who’s clearly too drunk, step in. Give your friends an out if you see someone trying to take advantage of them. Call their phone or interrupt their conversation if you have to. BODILY DRAG THEM AWAY IF YOU HAVE TO.

You might want to set some boundaries with friends before you go to the party or wherever. Discuss undesirable things that might happen, and give them the OK to step in if they think they might need to. Drunk people can be really stubborn about getting their way, but if your friends know that you trust them, they’ll know to keep pushing until you give up, and you can do the same for them.

4. Don’t let drunk people drive. Do your absolute best to stop a drunk person from getting behind the wheel. Never fall for lines like, “I’m not that drunk” or “I drive better when I’m drunk.” They are, and they don’t. Hide keys as needed. If you can’t get someone’s keys, try to get their wallet or phone—something they won’t leave without. If you can, help the person get a ride home. Put the number of the local cab company in your phone before you go out. If you can’t get someone a ride home, encourage them to sleep over. Make it a group effort. In this case, peer pressure is good. Someone is more likely to stay away from their car if they sense a social stigma about driving drunk.

5. Know when to get help. You are inevitably going to end up in charge of a too-drunk person at some point in your life. Some signs a person is probably too drunk include violence, hurting themselves, randomly lying down and refusing to get up, vomiting, or passing out. You kinda have to use your judgment in this situation, which is totally stressful. Feel free (and encouraged) to immediately hand your drunk person off to a responsible adult or medical professional to deal with. In the event that you can’t or choose not to, here are some things you should do:

  • Stop them from drinking more. If they want another drink, give them a cup of water. They are too drunk and won’t know the difference.
  • Get them out of harm’s way. Sit them down. Move them out of a crowd. Stay with them. A too-drunk person absolutely needs to be watched. Make sure they are breathing and that if they vomit, they do it sitting upright or laying on their side so they don’t choke.
  • Coffee, bread, and cold showers do nothing to sober up a drunk person. The only thing that will help is time, during which their body can process the alcohol. In the meantime, help them drink water so they don’t get dehydrated.
  • If someone passes out (becomes unconscious), you should lay them on their side in the recovery position. At this point, things are serious and you should get help. Listen to make sure that their breathing is normal, and nudge them often to make sure that they respond. Blue lips and cold hands and feet are both signs of alcohol poisoning. Call 911 (or your country’s emergency number) immediately. Stay with the person until help comes. Don’t worry about getting in trouble. Another person’s life is more important than getting grounded or getting a citation for underage drinking. Lots of places have amnesty laws that make sure that underage drinkers who help their friends seek medical attention are not prosecuted.

Honestly, this is a ton of stuff to remember. If you remember one thing, let it be that drinking might be one of the first things you do in your life that has real and tangible risks. When you make choices, make them deliberately. Think things through. Never put fun ahead of your own or other people’s well-being. Be safe, you guys! We like having you around. ♦

72 Comments

  • isobele July 16th, 2012 7:10 PM

    I used to be terrified of alchol because I thought that after one sip I would be completely hammered, and go jump off the roof of a building like you see in those safe drinking infomercials. If I had had an older sibling I would have been exactly like sam in freaks and geeks and switched the kegs or something. But I think its all about balance. Now I drink and enjoy myself, but I dont allow myself to get in any danger. Great advice :)

    http://seesusiebean.blogspot.co.uk/

    • mar9ar3t July 16th, 2012 7:45 PM

      i love that episode!!!

      • back2thepast August 1st, 2012 2:01 PM

        Haha best part is when lindsay is acting wasted and shes like ahh im sooo drunk hahahaha fale beer. Best.

  • christinachristina July 16th, 2012 7:22 PM

    I love you guys. When I was underage, and drinking (because let’s face it, it happens) I wanted to be informed, but the amount of resources I had access too were very limited. It was like sex education: if you’re abstinent like you’re supposed to be, what other information do you need?! This information is what you need, and I applaud Rookie for being aware of the fact that not every teen is going to stay sober – and that’s okay – but it’s important to know the facts.

  • emseely July 16th, 2012 7:34 PM

    Thanks for the advice, especially the part about never leaving your drink somewhere. That’s a really underrated danger–some people will do crazy stuff…

  • hazeleyedgirl July 16th, 2012 7:36 PM

    THE BREAD THING IS A TOTAL MYTH. Thank you for pointing it out. Never, EVER, give a drunk person bread. If someone tells you something like ‘It’ll absorb the alcohol in [insert drunk person here]‘s stomach’ then they clearly do not know their shit. It will make them vomit more. This is speaking from experience- as the drunk person, and as the person left looking after them.

  • katrinaexplainsitall July 16th, 2012 7:43 PM

    Thank you, Jamie, for this really great guide. I, personally, don’t believe in drinking during your high school years, but I know plenty of people who do it and…well whatever floats their boat I guess. Still, the tips you provided are very useful and I’m definitely bookmarking this one.

    http://www.katrinaspice.blogspot.com

  • kikiweasel July 16th, 2012 8:10 PM

    Woahhh! Hold on there! “Drink one drink, and then wait 15 to 20 minutes before having more.” This is NOT good advice! In theory you should only be having about 1 drink per hour! Having 4 drinks in 1 hour will send your blood alcohol content through the roof and is not smart! Especially if you are a young woman, alcohol does not process as quickly as say, a man or older person. Please take a look at this,
    http://bloodalcoholcalculator.org/bac-charts/

    Too many drinks is dangerous, in any scenario. In my state, there is a “not one drop” law for driving. Also, drinking underage or public intoxication, etc, has some intense penalties. Please be safe out there and don’t even consider “testing” your limits.

  • Rae0320 July 16th, 2012 8:11 PM

    Teen drinking in the UK is like a culture. I mean, you only have to be 18 here anyway, but all of my friends had fake IDs back in the day. No one questioned it. You pretty much just get slapped with a fine if you get caught, I think.

    It’s also not illegal for parents to let their kids (under 18) drink at home or at a friend’s house.

    Serious repetitive binge drinking is so out of hand here in England. I’m kind of over it now.

    • Rae0320 July 16th, 2012 8:17 PM

      Also, this is off topic, but as a little Englander, I was hoping/wondering if maybe at some point one your ‘themes’ might incorporate some internationality?

      I can’t help but think with the Olympics being held in good ol’ London (and our Queen just celebrated her diamond jubilee AND her birthday!) maybe you could do some themed posts?!

      Plus: I’d love to learn about some new places.

      Just a thought..

      • Pashupati July 16th, 2012 10:13 PM

        Yeah, to stay in the theme and also funny: after a few computing conferences, I stayed with a group to eat at a restaurant (one lady paid for two whole tables, including mine!) and play some games. Then we left the restaurant and as a tradition someone had brought chartreuse so we all walked to find a nice place to drink. I asked for a shot and one person, from Polland, asked if there wasn’t a law against “that”, I thought knowing I was a minor, to which the organisator answered “Yes, but there is nobody to inforce it.”
        Later he explained that in Polland, drinking in public wasn’t allowed (also, you have to get a ticket to go from one sidewalk to another via the crosswalk and get fined if you don’t or walk before it’s green) and that was why he asked the question.
        The bad thing would be that I miscalculated the last time I ate since I spent the whole night at the restaurant, so another bit of advice would be always ask yourself how many time ago you ate, not just if and what you ate.

        • lorobird July 17th, 2012 12:20 PM

          Sorry to sound anal, but Poland only has one L.

          Also, I second the variation-internationalisation idea.

        • Pashupati July 20th, 2012 8:07 AM

          Ahh, sorry. I always saw it as having two L’s in my head. Now I know :)

  • keezey July 16th, 2012 8:38 PM

    This is perfect. I wish I could print a zillion copies of this and force them into the hands of my peers…OR I could pull a Mean Girls move and throw them up in the air :D

  • Olivia July 16th, 2012 8:56 PM

    this is fantastic. no other teen magazine would have the balls to say this. maj applause here <3

  • Tyknos93 July 16th, 2012 9:02 PM

    This is perfect. Nearly every party I go to and WANT to drink my motto is BYOB (bring your own beer). This is seriously great advice although I try not to drink in alot of social settings, but I think this is useful for many young girls who choose to do so instead of pretending they just won’t drink at all….

    http://blazoningpens.blogspot.com/

  • fairy_grrrl July 16th, 2012 9:03 PM

    I’m completely indifferent about what friends/people I give a shit about chose to do (i.e. drink regularly or never touch alcohol) it’s just that doing it safely is what matters and I’m definitely bookmarking this for that reason.

  • runningfilm July 16th, 2012 9:12 PM

    The first (and only) time I ever got drunk was at a failed bonfire the summer after my freshman year with my boyfriend at the time and two of his college age friends. There wasn’t any direct peer pressure- at first I said I wouldn’t drink and they were totally okay with it, but then I changed my mind. They actually were really good about making me drink a lot of water, though they didn’t feed me (I started drinking around 9 PM and hadn’t eaten since 8 that morning). I drank as much as I could (mostly vodka and whisky). I left around 11:30 or so that night when my mom came to pick me up, and had acted decently coherent until I left. I remember sitting in the car trying to change the radio station and missing the dial, and drunk texting my best friend. My mom realized something was up and when we arrived home, she checked my phone and I got caught. The rest of the night is a little fuzzy, but I remember being absolutely, 100%, completely and totally pyschotic and hysterical on our living room couch. My mom was mad, and my dad was actually fairly sympathetic. I pretty much babbled everything I’d ever said or done or thought and just sobbed.

    I can’t ever imagine drinking again. There are just so many better things to do, you know?

  • Moxx July 16th, 2012 9:30 PM

    “Some people never drink alcohol ever, which is the wisest choice of all.”

    Are you serious?
    I hate this attitude that there is absolutely no way to use alcohol without completely abusing it and that people who drink are terrible. You don’t have to get shitfaced and pass out and feel miserable.
    Maybe if people, especially in this country, were more reasonable and responsible as well as less hypocritical when it comes to alcohol, people, especially adolescents, wouldn’t be so confused and afraid about it. In moderation, it is fine, just like pretty much everything ever. And it’s a bit uncomfortable to have Rookie telling me that drinking is bad and good people choose to abstain and all of that stuff :(

    • Mayabett July 16th, 2012 9:53 PM

      There definitely is a way to use alcohol without completely abusing it.

      I think the idea is that by abstaining from drinking, one doesn’t take the risk. Sometimes after a few drinks it’s difficult to stop yourself from drinking more, i.e. putting yourself at risk for anything you’ll do when drunk.

      Drinking can definitely be good though, as in all the studies that red wine is super good for your health.
      Other alcohol, however, can be super damaging. If you’re young it can also stunt your brain growth.

      The problem is more in the party context, where people don’t always know what/how much they are drinking. (And it’s usually heavy stuff.)

    • coolschmool July 16th, 2012 10:06 PM

      I thought the same thing. This article has a lot of good advice, but that line bothered me. I don’t see why abstaining is THE WISEST CHOICE OF ALL THE CHOICES. Like, yes, not drinking ever means you don’t take any of the risks, but does that make it inherently smarter? We do things all the time that have risks and don’t consider not doing them to be ultimately the wisest choice for everyone, as long as responsible precautions are taken. Nobody says the wisest choice is to never drive a car, but you can drive a car in stupid and irresponsible ways that could kill you. That still doesn’t mean the smartest thing to do is to never get in one. I don’t think drinking is much different.

    • Jamie July 16th, 2012 10:31 PM

      I think this might be an editing miscommunication, because that certainly isn’t what i meant to say.

      but yeah, no moral judgement on anybody either way, of course!

      objectively, though, it is safest, from a legal and social perspective, to wait until you are of legal age to drink.

    • dogsrule July 16th, 2012 11:22 PM

      as the child of two parents who met in A.A. and someone who basically grew up in A.A. meetings, i don’t find that statement very offensive. i’m not personally against drinking but there are a lot of serious consequences. no matter how balanced and smart you think you are that first drink is still taking a risk. even in moderation it can be an enabler for other addictions. beyond not knowing your limits one night at a party and the repercussions of that, alcohol ruins a lot of lives, and not just those of the alcoholics themselves.

    • Phoebe July 17th, 2012 11:18 AM

      This was an edit made to Jamie’s article, meaning that abstaining was the safest (arguably the wisest) choice, though it was not meant to be moralizing. We have since deleted it.

    • Asher September 10th, 2012 12:45 PM

      I know that I’m not going to drink for as long as I can but it’s not because I think it’s “wrong” or anything it’s cause my family has a history of addiction and I just don’t want to take the chance.

      Also someone has to be the person to watch over my drunk friends…

  • antveins July 16th, 2012 9:50 PM

    In high school I used to intentionally break the rules on eating beforehand and drinking water. I thought I was ‘getting drunker faster’ by drinking on an empty stomach, when I was actually just blacking out faster. After a couple of (expensive!!!) trips to the hospital, I’m learning to limit. And the best thing I’ve done to help my drinking was have that huge meal right before I go out.
    Guys, don’t do 6 shots of whiskey just because your friends are impressed that you aren’t wincing from the taste.

  • Mayabett July 16th, 2012 9:57 PM

    Also, the rule about watching what you drink is literally SUCH an important thing. I’m so glad Rookie is teaching that, because many teens may not have heard that.

    I’ve heard stories from my friends that they knew girls who had their drinks spiked with date-rape drug. That’s one of the really dangerous instances, and it’s rampant in teen culture unfortunately.

    One of the rules I was taught was to only drink from unopened drinks, so you know they haven’t been contaminated with whatever. Or to at least pour your own drink, which is second best.

  • ghoststakepolaroids July 16th, 2012 9:58 PM

    i definitely learned the hard way about drinking then waiting a bit so you don’t puke, i had so much vodka in an hour and puked everywhere. never. again. haha

  • lca254 July 16th, 2012 10:03 PM

    We started drinking junior year of high school. My parents never made it a big deal and always stressed that they’d drive me home anytime, anywhere, no questions asked. If your parents seem like those type of people, maybe approach that with them. Then I went to college in New York, got a good fake id, took cabs on cold/veryvery drunk nights and always kept track of my friends. You’re probably going to throw up one time or another, it really sucks.

    In Italy, when I studied abroad in college, we made safety an even higher priority. Always stick together. NEVER go home with someone, even a smokin’ hottie, that’s not in the program that who we didn’t know (aka, only going back to school sanctioned dorms with someone that multiple people in the group know from classes, etc) Just buddy system it up and don’t hesitate to take a cab, even on a warm night, you are in a foreign country.

  • emgrace94 July 16th, 2012 10:05 PM

    Moxx, I don’t think Jamie is saying anything against people who enjoy alcohol… it sounds like she’s had a lot of experiences with it anyway… and the Rookie staff have never had a negative attitude towards it. Abstaining IS the “wisest choice” in the sense that if you don’t drink you have zero risk of getting in trouble, getting sick, getting hurt etc… even if you are careful and moderate, there’s still a chance something could go wrong.

    Thanks for the article Jamie… we covered nothing but info about alcohol in health class, but there was still a lot here I didn’t know… just incase. xx

  • tinklebot5000 July 16th, 2012 10:33 PM

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

  • lylsoy July 16th, 2012 10:40 PM

    In Germany (where I come from) it is legal to buy and consume beer, wine and sparkling wine at age 16, but you cannot drive alone until 18. This way, you have the chance to learn how to drink moderately, because, obviously you cannot drive yet.. In my opinion, this law is far more reasonable than allowing it at age 21…
    Anyway, the advice in this article is super good an extremely important, even if you are legally allowed to drink! thx Jamie!

  • Hunter July 16th, 2012 10:41 PM

    Remember that episode of Roseanne where Becky and her friend are left alone and make “tornados” (95% alcohol and a splash of Coke) and get wasted?

    • Jamie July 16th, 2012 10:59 PM

      people remember episodes of Roseanne?

    • asleeptillnoon July 18th, 2012 3:28 AM

      YES! Probably seen that episode more than any other, haha

  • Harley July 16th, 2012 11:05 PM

    Thank you so much for this. I have no desire to drink alcohol, but I really like the bit on how to care for someone who has had too much. I feel like I might end up in that situation one day, and I want to know how to keep others as safe as possible when they have already had too much to drink. I’d hate to see a friend get hurt or die because I was unprepared.

    • Jamie July 16th, 2012 11:31 PM

      it makes me so happy to know there are great friends lik you out there!

  • youdonotdo July 17th, 2012 1:19 AM

    This is such an important article. Being too drunk to say no to sex is really scary and it’s easy enough to tell someone they should not get that drunk, but hey, it happens. It happened to me and while I blame myself-a lot- I also am upset that my friends knew how drunk I was, saw me unable to stand up, and still let some guy take me upstairs. I regret it so much, but I also want girls to not have to have that kind of regret! Nip it in the bud! Look out for yourself and your friends!

    • Jamie July 17th, 2012 10:33 AM

      i am so so so sorry you had to go through this horrible situation.

  • Clairebearscare July 17th, 2012 1:38 AM

    I come from a long line of alcoholics so I don’t drink that much just because I desperately don’t want what has happened to many relatives happen to me. (it just kinda freaks me out, ya know?) I mean, I’ll drink sometimes but it’s pretty rare and when I do I always try to stay comfortable.
    When my friends drink I’m okay with being a brat and taking away phones or whatever if it needs to happen. I don’t want them to do anything they’ll regret. At the time they’ll hate it, but later on they’ll thank me a million times.
    Anyway, this is such a great article because it actually addresses the truth/the many questions about teenage drinking.
    I once heard, “a drunk girl is not a pretty girl.” I always remember that when I’m about to drink, and it is pretty good advice if you think about it.

  • Florence July 17th, 2012 2:00 AM

    I spent the whole of afterprom trying to choose between looking after a friend who was clearly too drunk and trying to stop my friend from getting with a guy when I know she always feels like a jerk about it in the morning. Most stressful night ever.

  • Afiqa July 17th, 2012 2:31 AM

    Just wondering but what’s the difference in taste between like wine and non- alcoholic sparkling wine? Or are they completely different things?

    • Jamie July 17th, 2012 10:31 AM

      non alcoholic sparkling wine is sweet and tasty and carbonated. regular wine isn’t carbonated and has a sharper, more complex flavor? drinking wine is not tasty like bubbly grape juice is. it sort of has to grow on you? Like an acquired taste?

      next time someone near you is drinking a glass of wine you could just smell it. it tastes like it smells.

  • taste test July 17th, 2012 2:38 AM

    this is a great article. personally I don’t intend on drinking because it just doesn’t seem enjoyable, but I know in college I’m going to end up being The Sober Friend in charge of drunk people at some point. this is very good advice on the kind of things you should watch out for in that situation. also, making sure you don’t lose your friends is good advice period, even if none of you are drinking..

  • Indi July 17th, 2012 3:23 AM

    Since I live in Australia there can be a fair few articles on here that aren’t really relevant to my life, but I was happy to find that this article – what with its party descriptions and the range of situations covered – applied to me. It was well written; the arguments were always logical (without condemning fun-having) and seemed, to me, to quite comprehensively cover ground. Thank you Jamie, quite a few valuable tips that hadn’t occurred to me. :)

  • whodatgal July 17th, 2012 6:30 AM

    such a perfect article. I’ll read this when I go to my first ‘small get together’ and stay sober anyway…

    This reminded me of Freaks and Geeks…That episode when Lindsey has a house party and Sam and his friends switch the kegs…I’d so do that if my sister was having a party!

  • nicholo94 July 17th, 2012 6:45 AM

    This article is so important and so helpful! I feel like nobody in my family ever taught me these guidelines and what to do when you become sexually active. My parents just assumed that i wouldnt be doing either until i was 21/married. Im glad that somebody came and made these guidelines for drinking apparent because it is really important to say no to sex, dont drive home with a drunk person. Although i hate being the DD, i do it anyway because i need to make sure people are safe

  • Krista July 17th, 2012 10:57 AM

    I love this.

  • Antionette July 17th, 2012 11:00 AM

    I am going to college next year, and I wasn’t too much of a partier in high school, so this is so helpful! At least I will go into the college party scene a little more prepared than I did before. Can you do a thing like this about risky situations in general, like drugs, drinking, dark alleys, or parties where the only solution is to get out? It would help a ton for girls like me who are being thrusted into a very different type of lifestyle and are nervous about the transition.

  • wallflower152 July 17th, 2012 12:04 PM

    When I first got out of high school and my friend had her own apartment, we drank nearly every weekend. Now I’m 22 and I’ve only been drunk three times in the last year. The eating before you drink and drinking water throughout the night are great bits of advice. I have some things to share that might be helpful too.

    -If you’ve never been drunk, don’t get drunk for the first time at a big party with everyone there. Get a small group of close friends together so you can all see how alcohol affects you and what your limit is. Maybe do this a few times before you go to a real party. You’ll handle yourself better and even increase your alcohol tolerance.

    -Don’t drink girly drinks! Smirnoffs, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and the like are full of sugar and give you the worst hangovers! Also, I noticed that they make me more hyper/loud. They are tasty but it’s not worth it. Malibu rum is a tasty drink that can be sipped slowly throughout the night or mixed with pineapple/orange juice or be taken as a shot. I prefer whiskey which I sip slowly throughout the night and take shots when the occasion calls for it. It can also be mixed with cola and it’s really good. But point is, a little liquor is way better than drinking lots of girly drinks.

    -If you are drinking and are pressured into drinking more than you can handle like durning a drinking game, make yourself puke. Get it out of your system. It’s better than it staying in you and making you sick anyway.

    -Getting moderately drunk is way better than getting puke/blackout drunk. Know your limits and stop when you get there. : )

  • parlamode July 17th, 2012 2:13 PM

    I live in the uk and well drink, I don’t have a problem with under-age drinking. I know all of the things which can go wrong and the risks about what I can do. The first time I got properly drunk I spent the end of the night throwing up and then was helped to my dad’s car (he was piking me up), he was not angry and never has been he just laughed at me cos I kept on apologising about it. He new I was going to be drinking so I guess it made it better., he even bought it for me. Even though that is not the point relay, I just wanted to give two peices of advise (comming from a relatively new drinker (grrrr dose that make me sound like a alhe or what (I am not btw)))
    1. If you know someone has helped you when you are drunk say thankyou the next day as this will enshore that they know your gratefull.
    2. Know that you don’t have to finnish a drink (I drank all of my drink that night, when in relaity I should have stoped a bit before the)

    I have never regerted anything I have done when I was drunk (cos what is the point I have never broken any laws or slept with someone I shouldn’t have) all I have been is imbarased and I can deal with that.

    To me drinking is fun and exceptable. maybe it is different cos I am from the uk.

    hahaha I hope that was all ok to say

  • Sea goddess July 17th, 2012 3:32 PM

    I LOVE YOUUUUUU ROOKIE!!!!
    This advice comes in handy ALOT, since Im going to a party tomorrow…and it’s the first party I go that has alcohol in it…my friend keeps on telling me to drink, which I wasen’t comfortable with because my info was almost NONE, but thanks alot and also to the other ones that commented here!! I now know how to deal with it tomorrow night, THANK-U!

  • PeachSlime July 17th, 2012 4:42 PM

    I have so much respect for you girls who stay away from alcohol. Alcohol was a huge part of hanging out with the first group of friends I made in high school and now I realize all the mistakes I made were major! trying to move past it and make better choices basically meant starting all over and making new friends it was that bad.

  • emine July 17th, 2012 6:28 PM

    I’m 18 in a month and have been drinking for about a year and a half (I’m from Turkey, where the legal drinking age is 18 but everyone starts at around 16, I’ve never hid the fact that I drink from my parents and they’re both okay with it as long as I’m honest with them about what I’ve drunk) and I’ve never been vomit/hangover drunk (so far, hopefully never) despite the quantity I’ve drunk. I’m lucky enough to have good intuition and I’ve never pushed my limits after starting to feel tipsy, but other than that ..

    My secret is NEVER EVER EVER DRINK SERIOUS ALCOHOL (anything other than wine or maybe beer) WHEN YOU’RE TIRED. IT WILL DO NOTHING TO HELP THE SITUATION AND YOU WILL GET DRUNKER, FASTER, AND PROBABLY GET A SORE STOMACH.

    I’ve felt drunker from one mojito than I have from 9 tequila shots just because of the fact that I was tired and/or hadn’t eaten a proper meal before hand.

    Also, the coffee thing isn’t a myth in Turkey because Turkish coffee is extremely strong and just smelling it can be helpful. So if you can somehow get your hands on that you should keep it in your kitchen for parties where there will be alcohol;)

  • Ingrid July 18th, 2012 9:06 AM

    Lots of great advice. A girl a year ahead of me in high school died in a car crash. The guy was drunk. Actually it was much more protracted, she had to be declared brain dead after being in the hospital on life support… you get the idea. No drunk driving or getting in cars with drunk people!

  • neverendingview July 18th, 2012 11:37 AM

    Overall a wonderful, super helpful article about all the things that I had to find out the hard way when I was in high school/early college.

    Another rule I’ve found and hear a lot from people is that if you plan on having more than one drink per night: finding and sticking to one type of alcohol (be it wine, beer, vodka, tequila, whiskey, whatever). Different liquors and drinks have different alcohol contents and ingredients, and as a result, agree differently with people. (For example, everyone I know has their “And I never drank tequila again” story). I can’t cite any articles to back me up on this, but sticking with just one type of alcohol has always been the safer, healthier choice–it prevents me from turning my stomach into a chemistry experiment, and I can keep better track of how much I’m drinking.

    I’ve also found that the nights I DO mix it up (say, a glass of wine with dinner, then a gin and tonic, then a whiskey sour night cap) I fair far worse the next morning than if I just stick with what I started.

    Perhaps a placebo effect, but it works for me!

  • insteadofanelephant July 18th, 2012 8:45 PM

    this is such good advice. i feel like before i turned 21 i was always so scared of getting caught. and why did i never drink water while i’m at the bar until recently? it’s there. and its FREE. da hell is wrong with me?

    XX
    instead of an elephant

  • Andrea333 July 18th, 2012 10:13 PM

    Wow, such a great article and good advice. Thank you.

  • Hanschen July 21st, 2012 7:24 PM

    Speaking as a naive college freshman, I have seen wayyyy too much in just one year. Thanks so much for writing an article that’s frank, humorous, and so accurate – Rookie, I think you’re my official shoulder angel. Ya’ll are the bomb.

  • Nikilodeon July 22nd, 2012 10:57 AM

    Thanks for the great advice, Rookie! :)

    I remember the first time I got drunk. I was with a few friends at some Indian restaurant and I turned really REALLY red. Like, tomato red. It was so embarassing and I had no idea that would be the effect!

    The second time was probably worse, because I was with my family and had too much sangria at dinner. Not only did I turn tomato red again, I also became very dizzy, my lips turned purple, and I actually had a hard time BREATHING. Apparently I’m allergic to alcohol. Which sucks but is also a good thing because I get those pretty severe allergic reactions before I have the chance to actually BE drunk.

    But the advice is super helpful, especially the parts about helping friends. I probably won’t be drinking a whole lot any time soon (or ever, because my allergy could be fatal!) but I’m definitely all for helping out someone who is drunk. Thanks again! :)

    • Nikilodeon July 22nd, 2012 10:58 AM

      *Sorry, first time I got TIPSY, not drunk! I’ve never gotten drunk before! :P

  • StinaStarStina July 23rd, 2012 11:01 AM

    really great and necessary article

    I agree with all of this, and as an (almost thirty!!!!) older reader I can attest to the importance of making good-ish decisions while around alcohol. I was arrested for DUI in New York city a little while back, I got lost in the system and ended up spending three nights in a cell alone (they kept bringing me McDonalds meals which I was too anxious to eat and was afraid to in case I’d have to use the bathroom which would require going RIGHT THERE in the cell where anyone passing by would see me, plus I was afraid of the toilets because when they flushed they were SO LOUD and my nerves were so fried I couldn’t take it) having no idea when they would let me go and see the judge, it was horrific.
    and it was all because I had thought I wasn’t too drunk to drive…that’s the worst, because sometimes when you get to a certain point of drunken-ness, you think you’re not drunk, but its best to just avoid cars/driving no matter how much or how little you’ve had to drink, whether you think you’re not too drunk or not…
    jail/cops/courtrooms SUCK and can easily be avoided if you use your head.

  • amelia July 24th, 2012 9:42 AM

    this is good, it’s neither preachy nor discouraging bad behaviour so theres no-one who can get too offended by it ;) i consider myself careful when i drink, but of course everyone has their bad experiences. i’d love more articles like this, Rookie- informative, while staying realistic.

    • amelia July 24th, 2012 9:44 AM

      *ENcouraging bad behaviour rather- i’m half asleep, sorry.

  • mynamesjustmaddy July 31st, 2012 4:32 PM

    This is the best magazine for teens I have ever read, you’re not condescending nor preachy which seems like it never happens. I think teens being educated about “real-world” occurrences is ridiculously important because no matter how many times you tell us that “If you have sex you will get pregnant and die”, kids are still going to do what they want, no matter the consequences. So thanks, Rookie, you guys rock! c:

  • chasen August 1st, 2012 1:46 PM

    Drinking one alcoholic beverage every “15-20 minutes” isn’t officially “safe” drinking. The standard is one alcoholic beverage per hour for, at least in Australia, about six hours maximum.

    That said, I liked a lot of things about this article, including advice on how to handle the cops showing up to an underage party.

    Some stuff that’s helped me over the years:

    * If you’re going to mix alcohol with drugs, be careful. Don’t decide to do it on the spur of the moment because someone produces pills from their back pocket. Make sure at least one other person knows that you’re on something so that if something goes wrong they don’t just think you need to vomit in the bathroom and you’ll be okay. It’s not a great idea to try a drug you’ve never had before while you’re drinking, or to get drugs from someone who’s never supplied you before while you’re drinking. Basically, plan it beforehand and modify your alcohol intake accordingly, or steer clear. Also, alcohol will dehydrate you faster, which you need to keep in mind if mixing with E, for instance, and you’re dancing or moshing etc.

    * The article said to watch your glass. I would go one step further: watch your bottles at BYO house parties. Put them in the back of the fridge, hide them somewhere, whatever. You might want to tell everyone which is yours to stop losers stealing your booze but you’re also advertising space for creeps to dump their roofies/other drugs/alcohol/random other stuff. I had someone put broken glass in a bottle of vodka I’d brought to a party a while back — not fun.

  • wagnerian September 11th, 2012 10:22 PM

    I’m probably too old to be reading Rookie (I’m 22 and in grad school) but I really enjoy it!

    And I wanted to say that in my experiences drinking – I’ve been drunk, but never dangerously so (never puked or blacked out or anything) – the “eat a meal before you drink” is the thing I really wanted to emphasize. Never I have found it easier to get wasted on one glass of wine or whatever than when I drank on an empty stomach.

    (By the way, for when you guys are old enough to legally drink – this means if you’re going out for a meal and you’re really REALLY starving, save the wine or cocktail for after you’ve had some food in you. Drink some water or soda while you’re still empty-stomached.)

  • love_soup November 7th, 2013 11:22 PM

    omg hattie that is the coolest illustration, ever especially for this article. i am in love with your doodling this piece is awesome just wanted to let you know it caught my eye <3

    and JAMIE this was a MUCH NEEDED piece. i love your open-mindedness about the subject. your amazing!