Pride month can be a time of celebration and community. In particular, visiting pride events like parades and festivals can be a time to enjoy connection with community members. These events are often places where alcohol is present. Everyone participates in pride month differently, and some people may enjoy celebrating with alcohol, while others may not feel comfortable in spaces centered around drinking.
For those who choose to celebrate by attending events where alcohol is present, it can be helpful to be mindful of some safety tips when drinking or spending time with others who are drinking.
These tips take a harm reduction approach to drinking. There is always some degree of risk associated with drinking alcohol, but we can all take steps to reduce that risk when we use alcohol or spend time with others who do.
Here are 10 tips for safer drinking at Pride events!
1. Keep an eye on your friends. If you are going out in a group, plan to arrive and leave together. If you decide to leave early, let your friends know. Check in with your friends to see how they’re doing. Don’t be afraid to let a friend know if something is making you uncomfortable or if you have safety concerns. (RAINN)
2. Have a backup plan. Sometimes plans change quickly. You might realize that it’s not safe for you to drive home, or the group you arrived with might decide to go somewhere you don’t feel comfortable. Keep the number of a reliable friend, or rideshare app, saved in your phone or written down. Having multiple options will help you get to a safe location, even if one friend or app is not available. Consider bringing a charger for your phone in case you run out of battery. (RAINN)
3. Eat and drink (water) while you’re out! Alcohol enters your bloodstream through your stomach and small intestine. If your stomach is empty when you start drinking, the alcohol will enter your bloodstream more quickly. It’s a good idea to eat before you have your first drink, and while you are drinking. Make sure to:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid mixing alcohol with sugary or energy drinks.
- Avoid salty snacks – they will make you thirsty and likely to drink more. (HealthDirect)
4. Check your medications. It’s always a good idea to check if your medications interact with alcohol. Some medications, including medications for mental health conditions, can have unwanted and even dangerous effects when mixed with alcohol. If you’ve started taking a new medication recently, or just don’t know if your medications are safe to take with alcohol, you can use a site like this Drug Interactions Checker.
5. Know what you’re drinking and how much you’re drinking. Don’t recognize an ingredient? Use your phone to look it up. Consider avoiding large-batch drinks like punches that may have a deceptively high alcohol content. There is no way to know exactly what was used to create these drinks. It’s also a good idea to keep track of how many drinks you’ve had. It’s easy to lose track, but counting your drinks can help avoid getting more intoxicated than you had planned. (RAINN, HealthDirect)
6. Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or worried for any reason, don’t ignore these feelings. Go with your gut. Get somewhere safe and call someone you trust. If you think you have had too much to drink, ask a trusted friend to help you get water or get home safely. Remember, if someone offers you a drink, you can always say no. (RAINN)
7. Don’t leave a drink unattended. That includes when you use the bathroom, go dancing, or leave to make a phone call. Either take the drink with you or throw it out. Avoid using the same cup to refill your drink. (RAINN)
8. Only accept drinks from people you know or trust. This can be challenging in some settings, like a crowded party or festival. If you choose to accept a drink from someone you’ve just met, try to go with the person to the bar to order it, watch it being poured, and carry it yourself. (RAINN)
9. Be aware of sudden changes in the way your body feels. Do you feel more intoxicated than you are comfortable with? Some drugs are odorless, colorless and/or tasteless, and can be added to your drink without you noticing. If you feel uncomfortable, tell a friend and have them take you to a safe place. If you suspect you or a friend has been drugged, call 911, and tell the healthcare professionals that you suspect you or a friend have been drugged so they can administer the right tests. (RAINN)
10. Don’t drink and drive. There is no safe amount of alcohol to drive with in your system. Even if you go out with the intention of drinking, make a plan to get home without driving in the chance that you do. Some alternatives to drinking and driving include:
- Deciding with your friends who will be the “designated driver”
- Planning to call a reliable friend who stayed home
- Making sure you reserve enough money for a taxi home
- Using public transport
- Downloading and making an account with a rideshare app (or more than one!) on your phone (HealthDirect)
Although there’s no way to prevent all risks, being mindful of these ten tips can help create a safer, more enjoyable experience while drinking at pride events. Enjoy celebrating with your friends and community, while also helping to make Pride safer for everyone!