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Getting into the Holiday Spirits: Drinking Responsibly

The holidays and celebrating go hand in hand. Work parties, gatherings with relatives, and dining out are all part of the fun. Alcohol is often featured throughout these celebrations, leading some to drink more than they would normally. Depending on the amount someone drinks and how quickly, holiday revelers could suffer adverse consequences.

The period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day has many pitfalls for both the social drinker and the heavy drinker. There’s the stress that inevitably comes with all the activities and responsibilities; there’s the abundance of alcohol and the acceptance that this is a time to “overdo it.” Meanwhile, the consequences are no less prevalent: embarrassment, anti-social behavior, damage to one’s body, and drunk driving.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that alcohol-related crashes lead to more deaths during the holiday season than at any other time of the year. During an evening of drinking, it’s easy to misjudge how long alcohol’s effects last. Many individuals may believe that they will sober up and will be okay to drive after they stop drinking or have a cup of coffee. The reality is, even after someone stops drinking, alcohol continues to enter the bloodstream through the stomach and intestines which can impair the brain for hours.

Remember, according to the NIAAA, binge drinking is a combination of the amount of alcohol you drink in a relative amount of time. This is usually after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men in roughly 2 hours’ time.

Here are some suggestions for hosting a holiday party or attending one:

  • Offer a variety and abundance of non-alcoholic beverages and make them highly visible and easily accessible;
  • Make sure that arriving guests are not handed a drink at the door – they should be comfortable about making a non-alcoholic choice;
  • Ensure that finger food is available from the outset so that guests are not drinking on an empty stomach;
  • Have someone watching for drunk guests leaving the function so they can ask if they have a sober driver;
  • If you are a guest, take it upon yourself to do the following: organize a designated driver; before the party, decide how many drinks you’re going to limit yourself to and stick to it; be prepared to say “no” if necessary.

The holidays are about family, friends, and sharing time with loved ones. Alcohol can be part of the celebration when enjoyed responsibly. If you are concerned about your drinking, visit to take an anonymous drinking assessment.