I grew up in a religious community where Friday nights and holiday meals always began with a blessing over a cup of wine, and Passover meant four full cups of it over the course of a very long evening. One of the girls I knew from our community was brutally honest when filling out her college application. When she got to the question asking how often she drinks alcohol, she thought for a minute and then wrote, “Religiously.” That got her a $250 check from Readers’ Digest (her mom sent the story in after peering over her shoulder) and a very wary college administration.

Kidding aside, drinking alcohol at any level is serious business, and religious drinkers need to be careful right along with atheists and agnostics who regularly imbibe. So from a writer who drinks religiously, here are the 10 Commandments of Responsible Alcohol Drinking:

1. Thou shall not worship beer or wine: Alcohol has become an expected component of so many events, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When it’s your turn to host the Super Bowl party or a chic dinner for sophisticated friends, consider it an opportunity to change the rules. Frozen fruit and yogurt smoothies, spiced hot cider, organic, fair trade iced coffee and lattes and homemade fruit punch are all awesome drinks to serve guests. Try out a few of these non-alcoholic punch recipes, or create your own spiked with Tabasco or cloves.

2. Thou shall not create a legacy of alcoholism: Children copy the actions of their parents – consciously when they’re young, and sub-consciously when they get older and start to look more like them. If you drink too often or too much, have a beer at every game or a glass of wine with every meal, chances are higher you’re contributing to the next generation of alcoholics.

3. Know thyself: If thou hast no control, do not even begin to drink. When the temptation is too great, avoid attending parties or events where alcohol will be present unless you bring a designated friend who will watch over you like a hawk and continue refilling your Coke.

4. Keep thy dignity: When you do drink alcohol, don’t overdo it and make a fool of yourself, even if you’ve got a designated driver and a desire to drown your day. Nobody likes to be with someone who loses all dignity when they drink and says or does things they’ll regret when they see it posted on Facebook. 

Downing a few quick shots may cause a delayed effect, as does cold alcohol, which is absorbed more slowly in the bloodstream. So drink with caution, drink slowly, and drink in moderation. Let someone else entertain the YouTube audience.

5. Honor thy mother: You know she’s watching your every move, so don’t go where the alcohol is flowing so freely that by the simple act of walking in the door your blood alcohol level goes up a notch. Stay away from "friends" whose favorite pastime is hitting bars, getting drunk, and generally think little of impressing your mother.

6. Thou shall not drink and drive: Equivalent to murder, getting into a car after drinking is as stupid and dangerous as handing a baby a carving knife — it’s liable to have disastrous results. Losing your license, being fined or going to jail is nothing compared to living with the knowledge that your own criminal activity caused harm to another innocent human being.

7. Thou shall not drink adulterated alcohol: Contaminated alcohol was the cause of close to 50 deaths in Ecuador earlier this month, with 150 more hospitalized after consuming alcohol mixed with methanol while celebrating traditional holidays. Mixing drinks, while not typically fatal, can also have an unpleasant effect including extreme nausea and frightfully uncool vomiting.

8. Thou shall partake of food with your wine: Blood alcohol levels rise more rapidly in those who drink on an empty stomach, so resist the urge to drink anything until you’ve had a decent meal or a filling snack.

9. Be true to thyself: Know your limits, and don’t get even close. There’s a gray area in drinking where you know you’re not drunk, but one more drink and that knowledge and decision-making capability will become somewhat fuzzy. You don’t want to go there.

10. Thou shall not covet thy friend’s drinking abilities: Don’t hate those who can drink alcohol like camels with no visible adverse effects, have sympathy for them. Even if they don’t get drunk after consuming large amounts, the calories are all empty with no nutritional value, so a beer belly is the result — at best — of continued overdrinking. At worst, drinking too much alcohol causes restlessness, memory loss, impaired brain function, central nervous system deterioration, liver failure, breathing difficulty, heart attacks and death.

Know of other "commandments" for responsible alcohol drinking? Leave us a note in the comments below.

See also:

Responsible alcohol consumption