Alcohol is a touchy subject. It’s one wrought with history and emotion for me. I know that it is the same for many, many people and one that effects the health of all of us, particularly around the holidays. For this very reason, it is an important subject for us to discuss. Please know that this post does not come from a place of judgement.
Drinking and holidays go together like peanut butter and jelly. For many of us, appropriate amounts of alcohol can be pretty benign. However, often the holidays are used as an excuse to go all out. Drinking to excess can prove to be unhealthy at best and deadly at worst.
In a study reported by alcohol.org, 7.7% of men and 5.9% of women report to have blacked out during winter holiday celebrations (1). Previous DUI offenders increase their drinking my 33% during these months (2). Beyond the holiday season, a 2015 survey found that 26.9% of adults engaged in binge drinking in the past month (3)
Why does this matter?
While 80% of binge drinkers are not dependent on alcohol, it still poses major risks for the user and others (4). Binging on alcohol obviously increases the risk of accident, injury, or assault, but it can have a profound effect on memory and judgement. Long term effects include brain damage, stroke, and liver disease. These alcohol-related illnesses are not reserved for your stereotypical alcoholic.
Before you go to your next holiday party, I encourage you to ask yourself some questions. Get mindful and brutally honest with yourself. You know yourself and these questions don’t need a lecture from me. However, if they are difficult to answer, it may be a good idea to really look into your relationship with alcohol.
- Am I planning to binge drink?
- Am I using alcohol to numb my emotional or physical pain or cope with stress?
- Am I using alcohol as a social lubricant?
- Do I feel pressured or expected to drink more than I’d like?
- What are my limits?
- Am I placing myself or others in an unsafe position by drinking?
- Do I have a ride?
- Is this a regular pattern for me?
- Can I have the same experience if I abstain from drinking?
- Does this blog post offend you?
If you are concerned about your alcohol use, I encourage you to consult this screening tool and to seek help. You are absolutely not alone.