Strategies for Drinking Alcohol Responsibly

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  • 0:02 What Is Responsible Drinking?
  • 0:52 Saying No
  • 1:55 Saying When
  • 3:48 Strategies
  • 5:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lisa Roundy

Lisa has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college and has a master's degree in human relations.

What does it mean to drink responsibly? This lesson explores the concept and offers strategies for using alcohol in a responsible manner. You'll also learn when to say when and when to say no.

What Is Responsible Drinking?

Would you go to a friend's birthday party and eat all of the cake? Would you make a meat dish for a vegetarian friend? Would you watch your children run with sharp scissors in their hands?

Most likely, you would not do any of these things because they're considered inconsiderate, socially unacceptable, or just plain unsafe. Drinking alcohol has similar guidelines that dictate what is socially acceptable. If you choose to drink, these rules can help you avoid social blunders and enjoy the activity safely.

Responsible drinking is the term we use for safely following the guidelines of socially acceptable alcohol consumption. In this lesson, we'll explore strategies for drinking alcohol responsibly.

Saying No

First, you should always know when to say no. Responsible drinking means not drinking in some instances. When should you say no?

It's not a good idea to drink alcohol if you are sick. Alcohol causes dehydration, which can prolong your recovery time. It is also not a good idea to drink alcohol while taking medications. Alcohol may have side effects that are unpleasant or even dangerous when mixed with certain medications.

There may be social situations where drinking is not acceptable. Imagine how it would look if a teacher showed up to chaperone a high school dance with a flask full of hard liquor!

You should also avoid drinking at all if you are the designated driver for the night. A designated driver is a member of the group who abstains from alcohol in order to drive others who may be drinking. This is an important role, and it helps keeps everyone safe.

Saying When

Next, you need to know when to say when. Knowing when not to drink an alcoholic beverage is more easily defined than knowing how much is too much. When should you say when? If you are going to drink, it is important to know how much alcohol you are able to consume while maintaining control of your actions. This knowledge is an important part of responsible drinking.

You should always make sure you stop drinking before it causes you to regret your actions. For most people, this means drinking no more than one alcoholic drink per hour. This one drink per hour formula is a good rule of thumb for the frequency of your alcohol consumption because, in general, it takes about one hour for the human liver to process (metabolize) the alcohol in one drink. To employ the formula, you have to know the actual alcohol content of the cocktail you're drinking. Alcoholic beverages can vary greatly in strength. The size of the container that the drink is served in can also influence how much alcohol you are really consuming.

A standard drink in the United States contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol. This is equal to one 12-ounce can of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of most hard liquors, such as whiskey, rum, or vodka. Also, remember that the alcohol content of mixed drinks can be tricky to estimate. For example, a single mixed drink can contain from 1-3 (or more) standard drinks, and a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor contains 4.5 standard drinks.


Let's look at some strategies that can help you ensure that irresponsible drinking doesn't occur. What strategic actions can be taken that will help you drink in a responsible manner?

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