The fact that everyone is doing it doesn't make it appropriate. You really need to ask yourself why it is so important to keep up with everyone else in the drinking stakes every time you head out to somewhere that has alcohol available. And if it's a business event, why even indulge? At such an occasion, keeping a clear head not muddled by alcohol will be more likely to win you clients, mentors and deals than giving people a glimpse of alcoholic desperation.
Eat before you drink.
If you know you're going to be somewhere that you'll be tempted by alcohol, feed your stomach first of all. It may be tempting to skip food to save calories for the alcohol but that is a one-way ticket to fast drunkenness and one almighty hangover, not to mention unknown loss of control in between. A lack of food in your system causes you to become drunk much faster and it's also very risky, as this can lead to poor concentration, nutritional deficits, impaired judgment and long-term serious health effects and diseases.
Set a limit.
Check the current suggested maximum limits for daily alcohol intake as suggested by your government's health agency or advisers and stick to it. Keep anything more than this right off limits. In general, one glass or standard unit/drink of alcohol is likely to be okay provided that you're not a recovering alcoholic or you're not barred from consuming alcohol for health or other reasons. And if you're not able to stop yourself at just one drink, then limit setting will be hard for you and your limit should be zero; if so, you'll need to rely on some of the other suggestions in this article.
Another alternative is to massively dilute the alcohol with non-alcoholic choices, such as half fizzy lemonade. You can even ask for three quarters lemonade and a touch of beer!
Use artful deception.
If you're somewhere where you're going to be constantly hassled about why you're not drinking, think creatively and make it look like you're drinking even though you're not. Ask the bar tender to pour a club soda into a lowball glass. Ask for a twist to be dropped into it. The end result can easily pass for a gin and tonic, a vodka tonic or other alcoholic drinks in peoples' hands. Drink away and stay sober.
Drink for taste, not inebriation. Savor both the flavor and the aroma of the alcohol instead of bolting it down. Indeed, splurge on an expensive but extremely enjoyable drink because it's going to be the only drink of the night. Perhaps one glass of an aged wine, a fine single malt whisky or an aged beer would fit the bill. Whatever it is, appreciate its nuances slowly.
Bring the glass to your lips every now and then and tilt it. Instead of drinking though, simply inhale the aroma. Taste the drink as you swallow it. If it's not worth tasting, then it's not worth drinking!
Play wine and beer tasters’ trick.
If you have to taste alcohol for a living, you soon realize that it's important to be the one in control. Sip, don't chug. Keep your glass a respectful distance from you when not drinking.
When you drink, keep looking through the glass into the room and not up at the ceiling. This means you drink less and savor more.
Appreciate what you drink. This is probably the number one secret to not getting drunk to learn to appreciate what you're drinking rather than treating it as a means to feeling temporarily good. See the previous step on drinking mindfully to achieve this.
Make people stop pestering you to drink.
If you're with friends who insist constantly that you have something to drink, tell them you don't feel well, that you had to take medication that doesn't mix with alcohol or that you have to get up early tomorrow. Another excuse could be that you're fasting for a medical test and that alcohol cannot form a part of your health regimen.
If you don't want to fib, actually do sign up for an early morning something like exercise class, a yoga session or a workout on the beach. It's an incentive for you not to drink until you're drunk, as well as being a good excuse to give to others.
Choose a good location to drink.
You're likely to drink a whole lot less when you're in a place with distractions such as food, games like bowling, darts or billiards. You're also more likely to forego drinks if the lighting is up, the place isn't crowded and you're feeling comfortable.
If you know you're going to want to drink more than you should, implement some methods to remind yourself to stop. Have a buddy remind you when enough is enough. This might be a buddy who doesn't drink or is good at knowing his or her own limits and stopping. Or it could be a family member.
Distract yourself. Get up and dance, talk to someone for a while, play a game of pool, order a really complicated mock tail and savor it.
Hold a non-alcoholic drink in your hand when socializing if it's the holding of the drink that helps you feel like you're fitting in.
Allow yourself totally different rewards, like a shopping spree, a favorite item of food, seeing a movie, calling a friend long distance in place of the alcohol.
Look at your drinking habits and reasons.
Are you a mindful or a mindless consumer of alcohol? Do you drink until you're drunk because others do, or it helps you to bond or loosen up? Do you drink because it's all that there seems on offer? Really question what motivates you to drink until you're drunk and what you're getting out of it. If the real answer is "not much but I can't be bothered to change", do something about your bad habit by taking charge and showing others how to have a good time without alcohol.