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Kathy Marshack News

Drinking Safely During the Holidays

Monday, December 19, 2016


Woman declining a glass of wineIt’s the most wonderful time of the year – spending time with family and friends, giving and receiving gifts, and invitations to a lot of parties. With all this merriment, often comes more drinking. Even for people who generally drink in moderation, holiday celebrations can really impact their alcohol consumption and quickly lead to overindulgence.
 
What is it about the holidays that lend themselves to an increase in drinking? There is a festive feeling in the air at this time of year. It seems there are endless occasions for celebrations, from end-of-the-year office parties, to the reunion of long-lost friends and family.
 
The flip side of that, though, is the extra stress brought on by the holiday season. Family dinners do not always equate to relaxing, enjoyable evenings. Memories of those who are no longer with us can bring sadness. The sheer cost of the holidays can also make it tempting to escape in a glass of spiked eggnog!
 
Whether you’re celebrating, or trying to de-stress, it may be tempting to overindulge or even use the holidays as excuse for binge-drinking. It may seem like a good idea to help you cope with difficult family members or an uncomfortable office party, but the reality is over-drinking can have a detrimental physical effects and lead to behaviors you often regret later.
 
So how can you enjoy drinking during the holiday season wisely? Here are a few suggestions:
 
Have a plan. How much alcohol are you comfortable drinking? A martini? Two glasses of wine? Decide ahead of time how much you will drink, and stick to your decision. Don’t let others push you to drink more than you know you should.
 
This is especially important for recovering alcoholics. Go in to any gathering with two or three responses prepared for when you are inevitably offered a drink. You don’t have to tell anyone that you have struggled with addiction. A firm, “No, thank you. I’m fine,” can suffice.
 
Keep a non-alcoholic drink in your hand. This helps space out the drinks you’ve already decided you can have. Instead of drinking two glasses of wine before dinner is even served, sip on some water or sparkling cider in-between glasses.
 
This is also a great way to avoid being offered a drink. If people see you with a glass already in your hand, they will be much less inclined to try to push something on you. Having something bubbly and delicious also helps you avoid feeling deprived.
 
Remind yourself why you plan to drink in moderation (or not at all!). Have you made bad choices in the past when you over-drink? Do you feel sick, tired, and weak the next day? Remember why it is important to you to make this choice.
 
Keep alcohol in its proper place. Instead of viewing the party as an opportunity to drink, look at it as a wonderful time to socialize and enjoy good conversation. Then if you choose to have a drink, it's just an addition to a lovely evening not the focal point.
 
Surround yourself with supportive loved ones. For those that deal with addiction, it is vital to get support from close friends and family. While they may not understand exactly what you are going through, they want the best for you and will help in any way they can. If you start to feel your willpower waning, reach out to them. If you make it through a tempting situation successfully, share it with them!
 
If one of your family members struggles with addiction, it is very important that you help them as much as they will accept. The function of the family unit is to nurture and protect its members. Family members tend to overlook, condone, deny, rationalize, or minimize the problem for the sake of keeping peace. No one wants to rock the boat, especially around the holidays. Of course, you can’t force anyone to do anything. But offer to help. Do not enable them, or ignore their addiction. And if they turn around and get their life back on track, celebrate with them and support them in their ongoing efforts!
 
If you feel that you need help dealing with addiction personally, or in your family, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, I can help! Please contact my office to set up an appointment.


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