What Are the Dangers of Drinking During the Holidays?
Despite the magic of the holiday season, Thanksgiving may be a trigger for those struggling with substance abuse, especially alcohol. Thus, having the right information and resources is key to helping you keep those they care about safe. The risks arise from the dangers of binge drinking and alcoholism during the holidays.
Although for some the holidays are joyous times, many others find the season difficult. One study, for example, found that those with alcohol dependence were at a much higher risk for suicide two days after weekends and major holidays. This should signal to family members and friends of those struggling with alcohol abuse to take great care during the holiday season. There’s no time like the present to check in with yourself and your loved ones—how will you take caution this Thanksgiving?
What’s the Link Between Addiction Recovery and Stress?
Thanksgiving is often full of activities. Because of this busyness, people may feel more stressed out about keeping up with everyday life in addition to the demands placed on them by family gatherings. There are also the pressures of work parties and all of the expectations to have the “perfect holidays.”
For those with substance abuse disorders, the combination of stress and prevalence of alcohol is a dangerous one. Oftentimes, alcohol is available at every turn during the holidays. With Thanksgiving dinner, guests often drink heavily before, during, and after the meal. And since stress is often a factor in most people’s addiction cycles, holidays can be catalysts for relapse.
All of this translates into greater risks. These may include:
- Substance abuse relapse
- Stress-related side effects
- Getting arrested for drinking and driving
- Getting into an accident
- Suffering from an overdose
- Transitioning from a heavy drinker to an alcoholic
With all of this in mind, it’s worthwhile to safeguard your loved ones’ health and happiness over the holiday season, especially Thanksgiving. These practical
Practical Tips for Enjoying a Sober Thanksgiving
#1: Make Room for Alternative Choices
An easy way to encourage sobriety on Thanksgiving is to serve plenty of non-alcoholic beverages before and during dinner. If you’re hosting, make sure guests know that you’ll have many other beverages but not alcohol. But if they feel compelled to drink in some form, they can bring some wine or other drinks if they so choose. For your own stock, make sure that you have a large quantity of sparkling cider, sodas, juice, coffee, tea and anything else you want to offer which does not have alcohol. You can even serve a fun Thanksgiving-themed “mocktail,” like a hot cider or clove and tonic.
#2: Keep An Eye on the Vibe and Consumption
To avoid confusion for everyone, don’t leave alcoholic drinks out in the open. If guests can refill their glasses at an impromptu bar on the table, it’s much easier access for those who have alcohol tendency to drink. Make the main event the non-alcoholic drinks and snacks, but put the alcohol somewhere that’s not overly convenient. This way, it will be obvious if someone keeps coming back for more.
If you notice things are getting out of hand, it may be worth it to put someone in charge of the drinks. This way, the person can cut anyone off from having too much to drink or can start serving watered down drinks if necessary. They can also ensure that they get home safely and don’t drink and drive.
#3: Keep the Event Focused on Food and Fun
If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving party, you have the power to direct the focus. Therefore, fill your guests up with food rather than drink! Make sure that you have a range and abundance of delicious food available to entertain their palates and fill their stomachs. The more options for food there are, the less people will be drawn towards drinking. And even if they do drink, the food they eat will soak up the alcohol that they do consume, which helps to slow down its effects on the body.
Moreover, make sure to keep the evening flowing with activities and conversation. After all, Thanksgiving should be about connecting with one another and expressing your gratefulness for your loved ones. If you’re not the host of the party, you can always offer suggestions throughout the day for fun activities. Don’t be afraid to set the example of alcohol-free holiday fun.
#4: Educate Yourself and Others
Access to solid information is important for most things in life. This is the same for alcohol consumption and substance abuse. One study has shown the positive effects of even a ten-minute education protocol on binge drinking. The sample study of youths showed overall increased awareness of their friends and their own alcohol intake, as well as the risks that come with it. During the holidays, this type of awareness can make all the difference.
If anyone seems to be too drunk to drive, don’t worry about being socially awkward by stopping them from leaving on their own. Make sure that they get a ride with a sober guest, or find a way to pay for an Uber to drive them home. If necessary, you can always offer a bed on the couch or in a guest room so that your friend or family member can stay the night and avoid the dangers of getting arrested or injured in an accident while driving drunk. Where education only goes so far, you can always intervene if necessary.
All in all, if you ask most people what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving, you will hear many say that what they most value is their family and friends. This love and thankfulness doesn’t have to include alcohol. And for those who are on their recovery journey, it’s essential to start off the holiday season with the best tools for staying sobriety and working towards healing. If you or a loved one is interested in beginning your recovery process, get in touch with a professional at Impact Recovery today.