When you drink before – or heaven forbid, without – eating, that's a single-ingredient recipe for disaster
BY SAMANTHA ANNE CARRILLO
When making plans for New Year’s Eve, do visions of champagne – or martinis, IPAs and margaritas – dance ’round your head? Have you ever unintentionally overindulged in alcohol? If so, avail yourself of this guide to wisely imbibing the world’s most popular social lubricant.
In modern American culture, the consumption of booze is practically synonymous with the idea of celebration. And it can be a lot of fun. But, here’s the thing. Side effects of imbibing range from merely embarrassing to entirely lethal. Here in New Mexico, DUI is a public health crisis. Reforming the legal system may not sound exactly like a party, but there is something revolutionary you can do to buck the trend: Don’t drink and drive.
That said, you can still party like it’s 1999. With forethought and planning, an evening of Dionysian revelry needn’t lead to mortification or peril. Like the average mixed drink, these tips aren’t one size fits all. Adapt the below ideas to suit yourself. While body weight and consumption amount and timetable are typically used to predict intoxication levels, there are other factors that can affect the journey from practical sobriety to the outer limits of inebriation.
Editor’s note: Shout-out to my friends – aka the smartest people I know – for crowd-sourced insight that informed this article.
Don’t mix drugs
Over-the-counter and prescription medications – especially painkillers, antidepressants, anxiolytics (anti-anxiety) and antihistamines – can heighten intoxication and resulting coordination and balance issues when taken with alcohol. Common OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) wreak significantly more havoc on liver function when regularly ingested alongside alcohol. Into Eastern medicine? Herbs are powerful chemical substances, and taking some of them – particularly chamomile, kava kava, lavender, skullcap, St. John’s wort and valerian – can be dangerous when drinking.
Eating is fundamental
When you drink before – or heaven forbid, without – eating, that’s a single-ingredient recipe for disaster. When you skip a meal, your blood sugar levels drop. Low blood sugar is interpreted by the body as the start of starvation mode. Your metabolism slows, and you may experience symptoms like: hunger (duh), blurred vision, changes in mood, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, headache, rapid heartbeat and sweating. Add booze to the mix, and let’s just say the result is not pretty. No one wants to be a shaky, moody mess at a New Year’s Eve fête. Whatever your fave foods are, devour them with relish before arriving on the scene. Some oil or fat aids in metabolizing alcohol and is encouraged; whether that means an avocado or french fries is up to you.
Agua es vida
The average adult body is composed of around 60 percent water. Staying hydrated is one the simplest things you can do to stay healthy and feel good. By simple, I refer to ease of access and affordability. But I’m not saying it’s easy. When I get lost in work or, say, a sci-fi double-feature, I often forget to refill my glass. If you’re into technological assistance, download a smartphone or tablet app like the sleek Waterbalance or adorable Plant Nanny to keep you on your game.
Adequately watering yourself detoxifies; regulates temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and other metabolic processes; and sustains the equilibrium between water and electrolytes in our bodies. Not only that – it’s a terrific stand-in for an alcoholic drink. Down a glass of water, juice or soda between every glass of heady red wine or Jagermeister shot. It keeps your hands occupied at parties and ensures you’re hydrated, which means enjoying a nice buzz with minimal aftereffects.
Mind your Ps and Qs
Your manners and behavior are your business, but these Ps and Qs offer solid party advice:
Pace yourself. Sip, don’t gulp or guzzle
Partner up. The buddy system abounds in benefits, including reminding each other to order nonalcoholic drinks between lemon drop rounds.
Prep for the AM. Cautious use of vitamins, NSAIDS and hangover preventatives or cures is fine. But if you have a nice, fatty meal, stay hydrated and limit intake by following an alcoholic/nonalcoholic beverage rotation, your hangover may underwhelm. And that’s a great thing to wake up to in 2016.
Quality above quantity – that’s my maxim. Distilled liquors aged in nice barrels and rigorously monitored for quality control usually have a lighter mouth feel and taste and smell better than bargain-basement booze. Some folks, including your author, believe that sticking to one high-end, light-colored spirit is less likely to trigger a hangover. (See also: folk wisdom, placebo effect.)
Queue up Uber
On New Year’s Eve in a mid-sized city like ours, cab service tends to bottleneck between peak hours – say 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. – but Uber’s prominence in the local personal transportation market has alleviated that some. We all know that designated drivers rule; Uber is, after all, the app-based version of a ride-sharing, designated-driving friend. Other options include an actual designated-driver friend, local cab companies and AAA Tipsy Tow, which offers a free ride to you and a gratis tow for your ride on Dec. 31.
Samantha Anne Carrillo is a situationist, fourth-wave feminist, pop culture fanatic and associate editor at ABQ Free Press.