It’s Halloween and for many of you that means awesome parties! I want to give you a few tips to stay safe while still having fun!
Transportation is a HUGE piece of the going out puzzle. PLAN AHEAD about how you will get around. Public transportation is great, especially if you will be drinking (more on that next). Make sure you have enough money for the bus or for Bart and be sure to keep track of the time so you don’t miss the last bus/train (set a timer on your phone). Or stash a bit of money away for a cab at the end of the night (keep in mind; it can be tough to get a cab in the city on Halloween night). And if driving is a must, make sure that whoever is driving DOES NOT DRINK AT ALL. It only takes one drink to impair someone’s driving. I know that nobody ever thinks an accident will happen to them, but it does. If you can, plan for someone to pick you up (parents, older siblings, friends who are not going out, etc.). Whatever you do, be extra safe. All modes of transportation can be a little more dangerous during the holidays.
The first thing many people associate parties with is drinking. Although some of you probably aren’t old enough to drink, I know that may not stop you. I could give you a million and one reasons why you shouldn’t drink (believe me, there are many) but instead I will give you a few tips about drinking as safely as possible. These tips apply to the 21 & over drinkers too!
1. Before you go out, think about and decide how much you will drink. Establishing guidelines before you go out will help you stay aware of how much you are actually drinking. Also, if you are going somewhere you will be spending money on alcohol, bring a small amount of cash rather than an ATM or credit card. Having access to a limited amount of funds will help keep both your bank account in check but also the amount you can drink.
2. Drink a glass of water with every alcoholic beverage you have. This will keep you hydrated and slow down the rate at which you are drinking. The slower you drink, the more likely you will be able to monitor the effects of the alcohol and know when you should stop.
3. Also, it can be hard to say no when all your friends keep drinking – they may even be encouraging you to keep drinking too. Although they are probably just trying to keep you in the party mood, drinking more than you are comfortable with or more than you planned is dangerous. Peer pressure (especially from our friends) is often hard to resist. If know you are at your limit but don’t want to deal with your nagging friends, instead of giving in, have a soda water or coke with a lime or lemon in it, NO ALCOHOL. It’ll look like a mixed drink but only YOU will know it’s actually only water or soda.
4. Never leave your drink unattended. I know you have probably heard this a million times but that’s only because it’s great advice. You don’t want to take any chances with someone being able to alter your drink by putting drugs or even more alcohol in it. You don’t want to end up drinking more than planned or become unconscious. Either one can leave you in very unsafe situations.
We often go out with friends so why not make a pact before heading out the door? Making a pact will mean that not only are you required to hold yourself accountable but you will also be accountable to each other. Decide if you will be drinking or not (and if so, how much), decide how you feel about meeting someone and the possibility of making out or hooking up, what you will do if you become separated, and when you should leave. Making a pact will mean that you are looking out not just for yourself but for each other.
And of course, the safe sex piece. It wouldn’t be a Just Ask Shawna blog if I didn’t mention something about safe sex. Even though you may not plan on having sex, I encourage you to bring condoms with you *just in case*. We often see patients here at NGHC who need emergency contraception (the morning after pill) because they ended up hooking up with someone even though they didn’t plan to. It’s better to have condoms and not need them than to need them and not have them. Stop by New Gen and pick some up! Simply ask the front desk & you’ll get a bag of 40 – no questions asked!!! And if you don’t take my advice and you do end up needing the emergency contraception (the morning after pill), please DO come see us. For more information about emergency contraception and how it works, click here!
Do you have any other tips or suggestions for a safe Halloween??? If so, leave a comment and choose from a Starbucks, Jamba Juice, or movie ticket gift card. If we get 5 or more comments, I will choose someone at random to win a $25 Old Navy gift card! So if you leave a comment, encourage your friends to do so too!
In happiness & health,
Reviewed by Kohar Der Simonian, MD