Responsible Drinking at UCLU's Welcome Festival

Drinking doesn't have to be a way of life at university, you can still have an active, hangover-free social life.

If you do choose to drink alcohol, the recommended safer drinking limit for a healthy male is up to 14 units a week spread over 4-5 days. The recommended safer drinking limit for a healthy female is up to 14 units a week spread over 4-5 days. A unit is less than you might think: a single measure of standard (ABV 37.5%) spirit; half a pint of average-strength (4%) lager; half a 175ml glass of average-strength (12%) wine.

Keep an eye on your home pouring too, especially when it comes to spirits. Pub/bar single shot measures are 25ml, which doesn’t look like a lot, but don’t be fooled into over-pouring. Why not order a Drinkaware alcohol unit measure cup for you and your flatmates? Or, if you'd like to keep better track of how many units and calories you're consuming, try using the free Drinkaware: Track and Calculate Units app.

Drinking before you go out? 

If you drink too much, too early, you’re much more likely to miss out on the proper night. There’s nothing wrong with waiting until you’re out to have your first alcoholic drink – mocktails are a great way to start the night. But if you and your new housemates have all got some pre-drinks in, alternate them with some water or soft drinks so you stay hydrated for the night ahead.

Drinking games are always popular, but they’re a sure fire way to pressure you into drinking more than you’d like. Have all the same fun by playing with alternative forfeits, like push ups or fancy dress.

Make sure you chow down on a good meal too. Carbs or protein such as pasta, potatoes and chicken are good to eat before or while you're out drinking. They’ll keep you full, and the slow release of energy will help you last the distance.

How did I spend that much?!

The last thing you want to wake up to is a pile of receipts and a hangover to boot. So avoid using your debit card and only take as much cash as you want to spend. Make sure your Oyster is topped up and keep some change in a separate pocket for getting yourself home safely too.

It’s not a race, drink at your own pace

Every one of us is different, and our tolerance to alcohol is dependent on a whole range of factors from your gender to your metabolism and even your ethnic background. Remember, your tolerance doesn’t affect how drunk you are, just how drunk you feel.

Take our advice and avoid rounds, as these can lead you to drink more than you intend to and waste a whole heap of money too! Turning down a drink is much less embarrassing than throwing one up!

It’s not a race. Finish your drink too quickly and you'll feel pressured to get another. Instead, make your drink (and your night) last longer. Chat, sip, snack, drink water, get some fresh air and chat some more.

Personal Belongings

We’ve all had that heart sinking moment when we get to the front door and can’t find our keys. And how about that time you lost your phone? Most venues have cloakrooms, and it can be handy to snap a picture of your ticket in case you lose it while dancing the night away. Avoid the queues at the end of the night by collecting your coats before the last song plays out and if it's not a necessity, don’t take it with you.

Looking good, my friend

For a great night, you want your friends to be enjoying themselves too. So getting snacks and a jug of water for the table could be good for everyone. Look out for each other in case someone's getting ahead of themselves. If they are, grab them some water or a soft drink from the bar and encourage them to pace themselves. You might think it's all fun and games until they throw up all over your shoes, and the end of their night probably means the end of your night too.

If one of you does overdo it, make sure you know the difference between a bit too much and alcohol poisoning, and what to do if it’s really serious.

Make mine a pint… of water

It’s a common myth that drinking water, or indeed coffee, sobers you up. In reality, the only way to process the alcohol you’ve consumed is to let your body do it’s thing (the average person can break down one unit of alcohol per hour). Nevertheless, there’s a definite advantage to ensuring you stay well hydrated through the night to help ward off the effects of any alcohol you’ve consumed.

If you stop drinking alcohol and switch to soft drinks before the end of the night, you’ll give your body a head start sorting itself out, which means you’re better prepared to get yourself home safely and start warding off the next day’s hangover*.

Sticking together

It should be no surprise to learn of the correlation between alcohol and crime. And in spite of what the media would have us believe, it’s not just women who need to be aware of their surroundings – anyone can be vulnerable. Stick together and be sure to travel as part of a group. Don’t assume your friends are ok, find out for sure, and don’t leave anyone behind.

Is your taxi really a taxi?

If you know you’re going to be out late, plan how you’re going to get home. If possible, make a note of buses or licensed taxi companies before you leave the house, and make a dry-run of your route during the day. A really useful resource is the Transport for London (TfL) Journey Planner, and if you know which venue you are going to, check their website as they may have useful travel information. If you have a long wait, stay somewhere safe, populated and well-lit until your ride arrives.

Remember, your journey is not over until you’re through your front door. When you leave your bus or train don’t walk home alone in the dark, and plan your route so that you are confident of finding your way home. Stick to well-lit streets and mark out milestones or ‘safe-spaces’ en route, such as 24hr shops or police stations. It’s usually a good idea to let flatmates or friends know when you’re on your way with an expected arrival time. The Companion app allows you to virtually walk your friends home.

If you’re looking for more information on late night travel in london, including details of the much-anticipated night tube, check out the Rights & Advice Centre’s guide.

*NB, we still haven’t perfected the hangover cure *sigh*, but we promise to let you know if we do!