4 ways to ease yourself back into late, alcohol-fueled nights after more than a year of pandemic

Ease your way into boozing
  • People are ready to socialize after more than a year of pandemic.
  • Many of us may be out of practice when it comes to alcohol and late nights.
  • Experts say be selective about who you drink with and go to an event not centered around alcohol.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

After more than a year living in a pandemic, with bars restricted and social interactions curtailed, people are getting vaccinated – and they’re ready to socialize throughout the highly anticipated hot vax summer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently eased up on mask orders for fully vaccinated people, which is nearly 40% of the US population, and cities are gradually reopening. This week, New York City went back to having outdoor bars open till 4 AM.

For those who are fully vaccinated, with an open city at their disposal, social plans are starting to stack up.

“Everyone’s starving for that contact and it’s understandable people will explode out into it because they’ve been deprived,” Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, told Insider.

Nights will be filled with flowing beer, wine, and liquor, but the onslaught of plans, drinking, and overall hype may be daunting for some.

If you’re intimated by the sudden rush of plans and the drinking that comes with it, Insider asked alcohol experts how to ease back into a boozy summer and have endurance hopping from plan to plan.

1. Take your time on each drink

Dr. Leon Coleman, professor at the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said there’s no magic number to ease your way into drinking because every person is different. Instead, he recommends having a “go low and slow” mindset.

“Having a number is not as powerful I think as having a mindset,” Coleman said.

Coleman recommends enjoying and sipping on a drink rather than pounding drink after drink.

For reference, the CDC says five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women per night is binge drinking.

Humphreys said whether you have one, or multiple, plans in one night, having one drink an hour gives your body time to metabolize the alcohol.

2. If you have plans on a Friday or Saturday, skip drinking one of the nights

Just because you have plans two nights in a row doesn’t mean you need to drink on both nights, according to Humphreys.

Drinking alcohol disrupts sleep and can leave you feeling groggy and grouchy. If you drink in this mood, “you’re already starting at a disadvantage,” Humphreys said.

Humphreys likened intoxication to being sick and said you need time to recover. “If you were sick, a good night’s sleep and the day off would make you feel stronger.” Adding, “That’s true about the effects of substances.”

3. Go to an event not centered around drinking alcohol

Coleman said another way to ease your way back into drinking is going to an event that’s sole focus does not involve drinking alcohol.

“If you play a drinking game, you’re gonna drink twice as much,” Coleman said.

Instead of playing beer pong, Coleman recommends organizing a potluck or playing a game.

“Doing an activity with drinking as an adjunct, people get more enjoyment because you’re not just wasted.”

4. Be conscious of who you’re drinking with

Coleman said if you’re nervous about the overload of plans, avoid friends who drink heavily because you’ll likely drink more.

“If you go out with three friends that drink heavily, they just put them back, you’re going to be more likely to drink a lot,” Coleman said.

That’s why Coleman said to be mindful of who you plan to drink with and, if possible, choose friends that don’t drink heavily.

Humphreys recommends drinking with people you trust so you can keep an eye out for each other.