Before heading out

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

Eating isn’t cheating

Food helps slow the absorption of alcohol, stopping it going to your head too quickly, so now’s the time to put those student cooking skills to the test. 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. You’ll be more tempted to avoid that guilty 2am kebab or chips too.

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.

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 in a glass so don’t be fooled into over-pouring. Why not order one of our alcohol unit measure cups for your new digs? Or, if you'd like to keep better track of how many units and calories you're consuming, try using our free Drinkaware: Track and Calculate Units app.

Where do I live again?

It’s easy to lose your bearings if you’re somewhere relatively new. If you’re going to be drinking alcohol, plan your journey while you've got a clear head and you've got a better chance of making it home quickly and safely. If there's a last train, set a reminder on your phone so you don't get side-tracked. Know where the buses stop and whether you need a ticket before you get on. Book a cab to save yourself a long wait; have a licensed cab number ready, just in case.

How did I spend that much?!

Ever had that sinking feeling in the morning, when you see the pile of receipts for drinks you don’t remember buying? That’s the last thing you want to wake up to when you know your student loan’s got to last. So why not leave your card at home and only take as much cash as you want to spend. Make sure you keep some in a separate pocket for getting yourself home safely too.

While out

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

It takes up to an hour for your body to process each unit of alcohol. So have a break between drinks. Skinny, short, male, female... everyone copes with alcohol differently, so why try and keep up with your mates? Save face (and money) by sticking to smaller rounds with a couple of mates or avoid them altogether. Turning down a drink is much less embarrassing than throwing one up.

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.

Looking good, my friend

For a great night, you want your mates to be on top form 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 don’t want to have to put them in a cab, clean their sick from your shoes or miss out on the night by having to take them home.

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.

Heading home

Mine’s a pint…of water

If you stop drinking alcohol before the end of the evening and get some water in, your body can get a head start sorting itself out, which means getting home safely and better chance of a dealing with the hangover the next day. Drink a glass of water when you get home too to try to re-hydrate – you’ll thank yourself in the morning.

Sticking together

Make sure you leave the pub or club in pairs or as a group. If someone's disappeared don't assume they've pulled, find out for sure. Don’t leave anyone behind. It's not just women who need to watch out – men on their own can attract trouble too. So keep a mate with you and try not to spend too much time hanging about at the end of the night.

Is your cab really a cab?

“Would you like a taxi?” Um. Depends if it really is one. Unlicensed cabbies are just blokes (usually) who go out late at night and find worse-for-wear people to drive home. As they're not regulated, you've got no way of knowing if the driver or vehicle is safe. No matter how late, there's no reason to go for a dodgy cab. Get some numbers for local cab firms stored on your phone or ask a member of staff in the venue who should have some. If you've got a long wait for a taxi, stay somewhere safe and well-lit until your cab turns up, ideally with a friend.