It’s the beginning of your first year of college, and you’re ready to party your brains out. This new independence can be more intoxicating than the substances you’re consuming. It can also be dangerous if you don’t party safely. Reporter in no way condones underage drinking or the use of illegal substances; but, if you want to do those things, there’s no reason you shouldn’t do them in the safest way possible.

Understand consent.

People can’t give informed, enthusiastic consent while intoxicated — alcohol significantly impairs judgement. Even if you think it’s going well, wait until your interest is sober before you try anything. If there are any mixed messages, then stop what you are doing, especially in a party setting.

Be smart about what’s going in your mouth.

Before the party starts, pre-game with some food so you’re not partying on an empty stomach — that could get you too drunk too quickly. If you decide to drink, make sure you count your drinks — at most, you should be having two per hour. And never drink anything you didn’t pour yourself — not only do you not know how strong it is, but it could be spiked.

Don’t mix substances without knowing how they interact.

Mixing substances can have effects you're not prepared for. For example, having alcohol in your system dramatically increases the level of THC you absorb when you ingest cannabis. You can go from buzzed to blacked out in a couple of hits, which could put you in dangerous situations if you’re not with friends. Mixing stimulants like amphetamines or cocaine with alcohol puts a dangerous level of stress on your cardiovascular system. If you really want to try any of these illicit substances, make sure to try them separately.

Always use the buddy system.

It’s more fun — and safe — to party with friends. Designate one of your friends as your party buddy so that they can keep an eye on you. Is a creepy dude not taking a hint? Call over your party buddy for backup. Did you accidentally get a bit too wasted? Your party buddy can help you get home, safe and sound.

Have an exit strategy.

Make sure you know how you’re getting home before you even get to the party. Don’t even think about driving while intoxicated, even if you feel dead sober; either have a designated driver or order a Lyft. Walking along dark Henrietta streets also puts you at risk, especially if you’re not sober.

Know your limits.

I know you want to party hard, but nobody’s going to think you’re a badass when you’re puking your guts out into a bush. Or when you’re bedridden the next day, guzzling Gatorade and praying for death. Nobody’s going to think any less of you if you turn down that next drink, and even if they do, they probably won’t remember by tomorrow, anyway.

Parties are a fun way to meet people and blow off steam, but it’s also important to take care of yourself and stay safe. Be smart, be kind and live to party another day.