When it comes to addiction in the United States, alcohol tops the charts as one of the most popular and widely accessible addictive substances on the market. After turning 21, many young people turn to binge drinking as a form of entertainment and socialization on the weekends. Unfortunately, binge drinking can lead to many long-term health problems. In order to stay healthy, while enjoying alcohol (for those of legal age), heed these tips for moderate consumption.

Limit Yourself

The best method for limiting yourself while drinking is to watch the clock. Choose a beverage that you can slowly sip over one hour, and always supplement with water. You should consume one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage, in order to dilute the alcohol and keep your body hydrated.

Most experts recommend not drinking more than 4 drinks per day for men, and no more than 3 drinks per day for women. However, the estimates vary across the globe, with some Spanish doctors recommending as many as 7 drinks per day! With alcohol, it is better to be safe than sorry, overindulgence can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, hypertension and even cancer.

Eat Before and While You Drink

Before choosing to imbibe, you should avail yourself of a carbohydrate rich meal and continue eating throughout the evening. Many bars will have pretzels or nuts to snack on or you can visit bars within restaurants. In any case, the more food in your stomach, the longer it will take the alcohol to absorb, giving your body plenty of time to filter out the toxins.

Most doctors will agree that one drink per day is far better than 5 or more drinks on a Friday night. For many people, drinking includes a simple glass of red wine with dinner each night. While most doctors recommend a day or two off of alcohol each week, you should be fairly safe to enjoy the recommended 4 ounces of wine with dinner.

Have a Designated Driver

It is incredibly important that when you consider alcohol safety you remember your ride home. Never get behind the wheel of a car after you have been drinking, countless deaths are recorded each year due to buzzed driving, and you are more likely to harm another person than yourself. Before indulging in any alcohol, take the time to secure a designated driver or get the number of a cab service.

Avoid Hard Liquor

While cocktails and mixed drinks are incredibly popular among the younger crowd, hard liquor can be one of the most damaging drinks for your system. It lacks the antioxidants, polyphenols and heart-healthy benefits present in wines and has a much higher alcohol content than beer. Hard liquor has also been known to erode stomach lining and intoxicates you far more quickly.