Most people like to celebrate during the holidays by drinking, but we often put ourselves and others at risk because we aren’t aware of how alcohol affects us.
Alcohol impairs decision-making ability and our driving skills long before we show physical signs of intoxication. Did you know that one 5-ounce glass of wine can take your blood alcohol content to .08, the maximum level? Nearly all drivers are impaired at this level and critical driving tasks such as braking, steering, lane changing, judgement and divided attention are affected.
Alcohol relaxes inhibition and judgement and can lead to risky behaviors. Far too frequently, we speak words that are hurtful and engage in inappropriate behavior when we have had too much to drink. Many holiday gatherings have been ruined by an intoxicated guest.
We all have to deal with the increased stress that accompanies the holidays. Whether you are getting together with family or doing last-minute shopping, most of us experience more stress and pressure during this time of year. So, take your time, enjoy the moment, and look for healthy ways to reduce your stress. Take a walk, go to the gym, take a warm bath or sit quietly and just breathe.
When attending parties and festivities, be aware of drinkers who don’t usually drink. These drinkers often underestimate their tolerance, and this can increase the likelihood of alcohol-related car accidents. Additionally, problem drinkers experience more social opportunities to drink during the holidays and they feel more comfortable drinking in excess.
So, think before you drink this holiday season.
Don’t let youth under 21 drink.
Don’t drive after you have been drinking.
Don’t drink to excess in front of youth; model healthy behavior.
Don’t drive with kids in the car after you have been drinking.
Don’t let strangers pour your alcohol.
Don’t binge drink.
Don’t leave someone alone who has had too much to drink and assume they will be OK.
Do appoint a designated driver who has not been drinking.
Do plan parties that include non-alcoholic drinks: http://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/drinks/how- to/g785/best-mocktail-recipes/.
Do look after your friends and family.
Do alternate with a glass of water for every drink you have.
Do sip slowly and pace yourself.
Do eat before you drink.
Do stick with the same kind of alcohol.
Enjoy your holiday season, but drink in moderation and encourage others to do the same.
Remember the reasons we celebrate the holidays and why we gather together with family and friends in the first place.
This article was written by Terry Budlong, MCCA Director of Prevention Services and Co–Chair for STMAD. The goal of prevention services in Danbury is to help keep youth safe through education. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit standtogetherdanbury.org. Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/STMAD.Danbury or on Instagram @stmaddanbury.