How to Practice Safe Drinking During the Holidays

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Do you put on a happy face, but then use substances to cope with the holidays? Research shows that excessive drinking increases the chances of family squabbles that can lead to violence if you've had a few too many.

If drinking tends to impact your holiday - whether it's you or a loved one here are some tips that can help.

How to Keep Yourself in Check 

Unpleasant holiday memories and stress make substances an easy way to take the edge off. Even if substances aren't typically a problem, the holidays are a time when you might find yourself overdoing it. All the parties and family events are a time when even normal drinkers tend to indulge.

If drinking might be an issue, ask yourself...

  • Do you drink or use substances to cope with the holidays?

  • Do you find yourself drinking more because everyone else is?

  • Do you want to say no when offered drinks but don't wanna be called out?

  • Do you regret what happens after you drink or use?

  • Is drinking just easier than having to deal with the holidays?

Make a Plan to Get through the Holidays

The holidays can bring up lots of painful emotions. Create a plan so you can feel more confident in difficult situations and minimize stress. The more tools you have to cope, the less likely you are to drink excessively. If you’re interested in checking out Alcoholics Anonymous read my article on Busting the Myths of 12 Step Programs.

Here are some ideas so you don't fall into the same old behavior.

Safe drinking around the holidays
  • Limit your use of substances to avoid escalated arguments.

  • Be mindful when drinking or using is more likely to cause problems.

  • Don't drink if you plan to drive.

  • Find healthier ways to relax like watching movies, exercise, being with friends.

  • Check out Alcoholics Anonymous.

  • Commit to less drinking and text a buddy for support.

Peer Pressure Isn't Just for Teens

Teenagers aren't the only ones who feel pressured to drink. It's hard for adults to say no too. Let friends know you're gonna take it easy this year.

Don't ask other drinkers to change. Know that there may be some push back but that's okay. Keep it light and polite and move on! 

If friends react negatively, they might want their drinking buddy back. It’s hard for people to look at their own use. In AA there's a saying that the program is about "attraction not promotion" which means be the example, not the teacher. People want to decide for themselves. 

Family Drama

Do you notice that drinking gives everyone permission to say things that they wouldn't normally? It's true that alcohol gives you that "liquid courage" to express resentments and hidden anger. This can create embarrassing situations with family and friends that you wish you could take back. You don’t have to do that this year. Here are some tips that can help.

Tips on How to Avoid Family Drama

  • Take a time-out if you find yourself reacting.

  • Find ways to relax before going to stressful events.

  • Take a quick walk or leave early if needed.

  • Call or text a friend for support.

  • Stay away from provocative subjects and gossip.

  • Get some counseling for additional support.

  • Be accountable for your part instead of focusing on them.

It helps to focus on safe topics like what's going well, or lighter subjects that are more positive. Avoid getting involved in a heated debate about politics or other intense topics. 

If someone else’s addiction is bothering you, check out my online course for Surviving the Holidays When Your Loved One Is Addicted.

Safe Drinking Limits

Did you know that incidents of drunk driving, domestic violence and alcohol-related deaths increase even for the non-alcoholic during the holidays?  According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse safe drinking limits are:

  • No more than 14 drinks a week for a man and 7 drinks a week for a woman and

  • On one occasion no more than 4 drinks for a man and 3 drinks for a woman.

If you're over that, it may be time to look at your alcohol use. This doesn't mean that you're an alcoholic, but it means you're on the edge of drinking more than most people.

If you're reacting to this blog right now, let me say this. I support people who want to look at their use without being stuck on the label.

If someone you love is struggling, share this with them. Click here for my Detachment: A Strategy for Guide for Family and Friends These tips can help you avoid holiday disasters.  


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