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Grow Up! Strategies for Becoming Responsible Around Alcohol

You’ve heard it before. You need to “be responsible.” Being responsible is like 98% of what adulthood is about. The other 2% is enjoying black coffee and buying stocks or something, but that’s not what we’re talking about right now.

Becoming responsible is particularly important at the point in your life when you’re getting your driver’s license. When your parents and/or the state allow you to have the privilege of driving, they’re trusting you to make good decisions behind the wheel. One of the worst mistakes a driver can make is deciding to drink and drive. Despite all the statistics and tragic stories related to drunk driving, people continue to do it. That’s why you need to actively plan to keep yourself and your passengers safe. Here are a few ideas:

1. Choose Your Friends Wisely

Your friends have a big influence on your lifestyle. They might be into drinking and act like drunk driving isn’t a big deal. These attitudes can rub off on you. That’s good ol’ fashioned peer pressure at work. Even if you stay committed to making safe and healthy choices concerning alcohol, the wrong friends just make life harder. How fun is it to take care of a bunch of drunk people? Not very. Don’t let deadbeats drag you down. Find some friends who are mature and driven by common goals, like getting better at a sport you both love.

Don't drink just because your friends do it
Being different is the new “fitting in.”

2. Make Your Decisions in Advance

Making decisions on the spot can be tough. You might panic or stumble and end up doing something you didn’t intend to do. Put some thought into your decisions. Don’t just let things happen to you. If you know that you want to get home from a party in your car (and not the back of a cop car), decide not to drink before you even go out. Your success rate at making the responsible choice will be better this way. Don’t wait to make up your mind until you’ve been lifted halfway into a keg stand.

Driving while intoxicated is stupid
Make good choices.

3. Adopt a Phrase

Okay, so you’ve decided to be a decent human by refusing to drink and drive. That’s commendable! Now, how do you carry out the plan? One great option is to adopt a phrase for saying no to offerings of alcohol. “No thanks” will suffice. It’s clear and polite. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, but if you’d feel better having one, keep it at the forefront of your mind. It can be as true (“I’m scared of getting a DUI.”) or as made up (“I have to get up early tomorrow for a triathlon.”) as you want.

Focus on your goals, not alcohol
Sorry, no time for NARPS.

4. Have a Backup Plan

There’s one more thing you should get straight before heading out to a party that might have alcohol or drugs. How will you get home if something goes wrong? If you make a mistake and end up drinking, don’t make a bad situation worse by driving home. If your friend who’s supposed to drive you home gets drunk, what can you do? Call a sober friend or relative for a safe ride. Maybe set up an amnesty program with your parents in case you get yourself into a dangerous situation and need to ask for help. Save a few phone numbers for taxi companies and download a couple apps for ride-sharing services if they’re available in your area.

Find a safe ride home if you or your ride is impaired
It’s always ok to ask for a safe ride.

Follow these four tips to avoid peer pressure and drunk driving. Seriously, you don’t want a DUI or DWI on your hands. Start making choices now that will help you build the future you want.