We get it. When you are in college, it is natural to want to let loose a little bit and to make some great memories. But remember, while legally and responsibly having a cold beer or a fun wine cooler in a social setting is fine in moderation, losing control and being unsafe is not necessary to have a good time. So next time you are at a party, you can use this neat trick to remind you to drink responsibly.

Red Solo Cup diagram

Everyone’s favorite party staple is a recognizable part of most casual parties, but did you know that the Red Solo Cup has lines that work as handy measurements to note reasonable drink serving sizes? As you can see in the above diagram, the Red Solo cup was not specifically designed with this measurement minder design in its conception, but yet it works rather well as an approximation of standard alcoholic beverage servings.

Colleges and other organizations have started to promote this helpful Red Solo Cup method across the country to students as a safety tool. From the bottom of the cup to the first line represent 1 ounce, a reasonable liquor serving. Filling up to the second line represents 5 ounces, a reasonable wine serving. Lastly, going up to the third line represents 12 ounces, a reasonable serving of beer. If using this method, make sure it is 16 oz Solo cups. Any color is fine and in fact the clear version might help with matching the lines easier.

It is important to know what constitutes a “drink” and what your personal limit should be. A “drink” should be defined as one standard serving of alcohol, whether that is beer, wine, or liquor. Mixed drinks are harder to define in terms of what a standard serving is, so if possible, seek out information regarding the overall alcohol content and compare it to common drinks for a baseline.

 So how much is considered safe, moderate drinking? The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services defines moderate alcohol consumption as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Keep in mind however that each individual’s alcohol tolerance can differ on a number of factors, such as weight and gender. So next time you hear Toby Keith’s party anthem “Red Solo Cup”, be thankful for this versatile way to spend time with friends while also being smart with your health.

Other Tips for Mindful Alcohol Intake

Foundry, a health initiative sponsored by the government of British Columbia, suggests “Tips for Safe Alcohol Use” in their article on their site.

Before the party:

  • Eat a sizeable balanced meal and drink water before and during an evening involving alcohol. Set a reminder on your phone.
  • Set a drink limit but also monitor how you are feeling. Know when you have had enough and don’t be afraid to say so. The Saying When app, available on most phone devices, can help you keep track of your drinks.
  • Have a plan for how you are getting home. Do you have a designated driver or are you using Uber? It’s simpler to plan ahead than it is to scramble later on. Only get in the car with a sober driver

At the party:

  • Don’t agree to play a drinking game using alcoholic drinks. If you want to play a drinking game, suggest soda or another non-alcoholic alternative. The main thing is not to get into a situation where you are trying to keep up with heavy drinkers.
  • Finish one drink before starting a new one, because topping up drinks makes it hard to keep track of how much you have had.
  • Don’t leave your drink unattended to avoid tampering. If you have any doubts, throw it out and make or order a new one if desired.
  • The buddy system is a good idea. You and a trusted friend can look out for each other and keep each other safe.
  • If you or a friend start to become too drunk, stop drinking, switch to water and eat.

Have fun but stay safe out there!


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