Alcohol can be a little intimidating at first. It's new, it's hyped, and it's one of the fun "adult" things to do. And if you wait until your first week of college to drink, the anticipation might just be strong enough to blur (literally) the lines between responsible and irresponsible drinking.

Honestly, drinking takes practice, and unfortunately, no online program or health class can teach you how much you can handle, but they can help educate. Here are my safe drinking guidelines, from an actual college student herself, so you don't end the night with your head in a toilet bowl or worse, on a hospital bed.

1. Don't be scared of alcohol. 

lemon, liquor, ice, alcohol, beer, juice
Robert Wehrli

Yes, I said it. Alcohol isn't this crazy magical potion. It's just a drink made from everyday things you may already consume through other means. Vodka is made of fermented grains (barley, wheat, corn), tequila from fermented blue agave, wine from fermented grapes, and rum from fermented sugarcane byproducts (molasses, honey). 

2. Alcohol will not solve your problems.

You will not find answers at the bottom of a bottle. A fight with a friend will not get resolved with a couple of shots, and an "F" won't turn into an "A" if you down a few glasses of wine. And yes, I know that Hollywood makes alcohol seem like the go-to for when you're having a bad day, but all alcohol will do is numb you until you wake up with a headache, maybe a few regrets, and the same problem.

3. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

I don't quite remember who told me this, but ever since I heard it, I've probably said it every day. I'm not going to bore you with some statistic of how many drinks you should drink per hour, because everyone's tolerance is different. In the end, just drink water regularly throughout the night. It doesn't make you "lame" and you can remind your friends that you did when you wake up without a hangover.

4. Eat before you drink.

cheese, lettuce, bun, mustard, ketchup, sandwich
Marina Nazario

I will be the first person to admit that I skip meals before drinking so I can feel the effects of alcohol faster. I have a higher tolerance and sometimes I'm just not in the mood to wait. But it's dangerous. I know it's bad, and honestly, I know better because having food in your system will help absorb the alcohol and thus keep you from ending up on the floor, while also preventing a ridiculous hangover. 

Drinking alcohol can quickly deplete your body of its essential B vitamins, so it's important to cater to that by eating certain foods. Stay away from dehydrating foods because alcohol is going to dehydrate you, also.

#SpoonTip: Spoon University does not ever recommend or support skipping meals. Food is always good, people. 

5. Drink with friends, not alone.

Alcohol should never be the foundation for any relationship or friendship, and it should never be the sole reason you meet up with people. With that being said, you should always drink with a group or at least practice the buddy system. Have someone to check up on you, someone who is familiar with your drinking patterns and will look out for you. Also, linking yourself with someone leaves you less vulnerable to falling victim to sexual assault. 

6. Keep your eyes on your drink at all times.

wine, liquor, ale, beer
Melissa Miller

This is so so important! If you leave your drink to play a drinking game or to dance, don't return and continue drinking it. Get a new drink. When you leave a drink alone, you leave that drink vulnerable to strangers with potentially bad intentions, and it's not worth getting involved with that to just save a couple bucks. Once your drink leaves your sight, it's the world's drink. 

7. Know what you're drinking.

I try to stay away from "punch" bowls or coolers because honestly, who knows what's in there? Jungle juice can get pretty sketchy, especially when cheaper alcohols (or Everclear) are added into the mix. If there's a bartender, watch him/her make your drink, but always try to pour drinks yourself. If you're drinking beer, make sure to grab a closed one.

8. Go out with a plan (and have that plan not be just getting wasted).

If you plan to get effed up, you will. And yeah, I'm not going to say that I haven't done that before, but those are the nights that I find myself regretting the most. Your health should have a priority, and having the end goal of a night be a blackout (alcohol-induced amnesia) should not ever be a thing. When experiencing a blackout, you're conscious and engaging in activities, but you later only have partial or no recall for those activities. Prepare yourself appropriately for drinking and if you start to feel overly tipsy at any point, switch to water. 

9. Stay away from alcohol when you're highly emotional.

Alcohol is a depressant. Yes, I know, it's very confusing because you feel light and happy with alcohol in your system, but that's because alcohol depresses your inhibitions. Alcohol alters your brain chemistry, and it can actually increase anxiety and stress.

10. When you say "I'm never drinking again," you probably will.

alcohol, ice, cocktail, juice
Shannon Daly

It may even take less than 24 hours before you change your mind about that statement, but let every mistake be a learning experience. Drinking responsibly takes time to master, and even then you will have some rocky nights, and that's okay. Just listen to your body — you'll know when you've had too much. 

With these safe drinking guidelines, you should be able to take on the college drinking scene in a safe, but fun way. Watch out for your friends, and watch out for yourself. You'll want to remember how much fun you've had.

#SpoonTip: Spoon University does not support underage drinking or binge drinking. Please drink responsibly, friends!