Responsible Drinking This Holiday Season

One of the best parts about enjoying the holidays as an adult is holiday cocktails! From sparkling champagne on New Year’s, to warm apple cider and bourbon on Christmas, chances are you or your loved ones are going to enjoy a holiday drink. In fact, about 75 percent of Americans consume alcohol, and some studies show that drinking in moderation could offer some health benefits.

Here are some tips to make sure you or your loved ones enjoy responsibly while avoiding the risks of having too much.

Alcohol’s effects begin quickly.

Most of us know the effects of drinking way too much: slurred speech, loss of balance, and even passing out and experiencing “blackouts,” the temporary amnesia that means we won’t remember the lampshade-on-the-head incident when we wake up in the morning. Yet even before we finish the very first drink, alcohol is making its way to our brain, and our thinking and judgment are already impaired.

This means you’re at an increased risk of falling, and as always, you should never drink and drive.

The effects last for hours after the last drink.

 How often do you hear someone say, “Well, I better make this the last one, so I can sober up and drive home”? In fact, it can take hours for the alcohol in our stomach and intestine to finish entering the bloodstream. So, we’ll probably feel impaired judgment, sleepiness, loss of coordination and other effects all the more during the hours after we stop drinking for the evening.

We also risk the other side of the coin where we think “I’m not even drunk!” If you or a loved one especially enjoy getting a little tipsy, be sure to take it slow so you don’t cross over the line into a completely inebriated state.

Coffee doesn’t help—but water will.

Despite the common belief, coffee doesn’t speed up recovery from the effects of alcohol. The caffeine may help with drowsiness, but it has no effect on coordination or decision-making. What can help our bodies metabolize alcohol and return to normal? One thing: time.

However, your future self will love your past self if you chase each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water. Even if you forget, a big drink of water before bed can really help curb any morning-after feelings.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism warns that traffic fatalities and other injuries are most common during the holidays, and they offer these tips for staying safe:

  • Pace yourself. Know what constitutes a standard drink and have no more than one per hour — and no more than 4 drinks for men or 3 for women per day.
  • Have “drink spacers” — make every other drink a nonalcoholic one.
  • Make plans to get home safely. Remember that a designated driver is someone who hasn’t had any alcohol, not simply the person in your group who drank the least. (If you’re stranded, consider a rideshare service like Lyft or Uber.)

So, before heading out for those parties, plan to drink sensibly when you get there — or not at all. This will keep you safe and will prevent that “traditional” New Year’s Day hangover!

Categories: Home health, Senior Health