Don't be fooled into thinking they are harmless fun, drinking games can lead to risky behaviour and alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal, and can have consequences for your long-term health too.
How drinking games work
A drinking game is any activity that puts someone else in control of how much alcohol you drink. They’re often played as a way for strangers to bond – like during Freshers’ Week at university.
During drinking games players might have to drink alcohol when they hear a certain word, or as a forfeit when they break the game’s rules.
These rules become harder to follow the more alcohol players drink – which means they make mistakes and end up drinking more.
This encourages players to drink more alcohol than they want, faster than they’d like, which can put them at risk.
Health risks of drinking games
Drinking too much alcohol too quickly during a drinking game can lead to alcohol poisoning. This life-threatening condition happens when the body becomes overwhelmed by alcohol.
If you recognise the symptoms of alcohol poisoning – which include confusion, vomiting or seizures – call 999 immediately.
Drinking too much alcohol can also make you vulnerable to situations that might be risky, like walking back to your house alone.
Alcohol makes people less inhibited which could also mean you’re more likely to be involved in an accident and the more you drink, the more likely that may become. Alcohol can also slow down your reactions, upset your balance, and impair your vision and hearing making it difficult to be alert to things that could pose a risk to your safety.
Playing a drinking game as part of a large group of people can make it difficult to tell when people are in trouble.
You’re always safer on a night out if you stick with your friends and regularly check they’re OK.
Staying with Your Pack
Take a different approach to drinking games
- Opt out. Choose not to get involved in drinking games and make it clear you’d rather be in control of the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Be Freshers’ Week-aware. If you’re a student our Freshers’ Survival Guide will help you enjoy your first weeks as a student and stay safe.
- Think differently. From paintballing to preparing a shared meal, there’s plenty of positive ways to bring people together that don’t involve drinking games.
- Look out for others. If friends are playing drinking games check they’re OK – and help them opt out if they’ve drunk too much alcohol.
- Keep tabs on your drinking. Download our free Drinkaware: Track and Calculate Units App to keep tabs on how much alcohol you’re drinking.
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