Have a Memorable 21st Birthday!

Crossing the collegiate line of being legally able to drink is a major turning point for any college student. USF students actually do not drink as much as you may think, with 82% of Bulls saying they drink once a week or less. However, many 21st birthdays can still get out of hand because traditions like bar crawls and taking 21 shots are dangerous and unrealistic.

No one wants their birthday to end within the hour or at the hospital, and I definitely want to remember it. Learn your alcohol facts early, and check out these tips to have a disaster-free and long-lasting 21st birthday!

Plan a dinner before going out. Alcohol can absorb more quickly if your stomach is empty — and that is not a good thing. You want to enjoy your night, and the last time I checked, having too much alcohol can have some seriously unenjoyable consequences. 

Do NOT lose your ID. Think about it! How much would it suck to be legal and not be able to prove it? Wear a fanny pack or crossbody bag or have your most responsible friend hold on to your stuff.  

Plan a DD. Have a taxi number saved in your phone or have a friend or family member pick you up. If you do not plan on pregaming, Zingo is a designated driving service that will drive your car home for you for about the price of a taxi.

Bring a birthday card and sharpie out with you. Birthday signatures from everyone in the bar or at the party! Perfect momento. 

Eat well before and after drinking. Alcohol depletes nutrients from the body, especially vitamin B12 and folate. A night of drinking can also cause dehydration. Take a multivitamin and enjoy nutrient dense foods.

Take pictures early. You definitely want to look back at the big day but probably not the whole night… and neither will your future boss.  

Choose light-colored drinks. Red wine and dark liquors have a higher concentration of congeners, which can cause headaches and may lead to more severe hangovers.

Slow it down. The safest rule is to have one drink per hour. Your alcohol tolerance does not magically increase when your 21, and tolerance never decreases your BAC.

Alternate between water and alcohol. Have a glass of water for every alcoholic drink. Have two if the water cups are small.

Know how much you are drinking. A serving of beer is 12 ounces of alcohol, wine is 5 ounces and a shot is 1.5 ounces. Track your BAC with theWatch Your BAC app.

Watch your drinks. If the bar or party know that it is your 21st birthday, you may be offered drinks. If you did not watch the bartender make a drink, do not drink it.  And remember to never accept random drinks from a stranger or leave a drink unattended or with a stranger

Drink water when you get home. It won’t help your sober up faster, but it may help decrease your risk of dehydration the next day.

Get active the next day. Help improve any hangover moodiness with some fresh air and exercise.


Make sure you and your friends review these symptoms and tips before going out. You may not be the one getting sick on your birthday, but you may have to take care of a friend.

Know the Signs of Alcohol Poisoning:

♦ Mental confusion

♦ Inability to stand upright alone

♦ Difficult to wake up  

♦ Vomiting

♦ Seizures

♦ Slow or irregular breathing — fewer than eight breaths per minute or 10 seconds or more between breaths

♦ Hypothermia, which is often show by blue, pale, or cold skin

How to Handle Alcohol Poisoning:

Call 911. Throwing up or sleeping will not help. Alcohol poisoning can have serious consequences, so get to the hospital ASAP. The USF Amnesty policy could apply to you if you are on the USF campus.

Stay with them. Monitor their heartbeat and get them water if they can drink it.

Keep them awake and upright. If they are passed out, keep them on their side. If they are on their back and they vomit, they could suffocate.


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