Cheers to responsible drinking
The Holiday Season often brings joys and stress, with holiday celebrations offering more opportunities for alcohol consumption. Stress, along with the dark days of winter and even "holiday depression," can lead to increased drinking, said Ruth C. Engs, a professor in the Department of Applied Health Science at Indiana University Bloomington. Engs' research has focused on addictive behaviors and the history of drinking and health reform cycles. Excessive drinking damages the liver and other organs, interferes with some medications, intensifies some medical conditions and impairs driving. Engs said holiday drinking and party planning can be handled in a responsible and sensible manner so fun and safety can be part of the holiday mix.
Tips for responsible drinking:
- Know your limit. The rule of thumb is no more than one drink per hour. (A glass of wine = a can of beer = a shot of spirits).
- Eat food while you drink.
- Sip your drink -- don't gulp.
- Accept a drink only when you really want one. If someone is trying to force another drink on you, ask for ice or drink a non-alcoholic beverage.
- Cultivate taste -- choose quality rather than quantity. Learn the names of fine wines, whiskeys and beers. Learn what beverage goes with what foods.
- At a party, skip a drink now and then and drink a non-alcoholic beverage.
- When drinking out, if you must drive home, have your drink with a meal. Remember, the liver can handle only one drink per hour.
- Appoint a non-drinking designated driver. Take the taxi or bus services offered in some communities on New Year's Eve.
- Don't consume alcohol with other drugs such as over-the-counter cold or cough medicines.
Tips for party hosting:
- Plan people movement. Make sure people can move around and meet each other.
- Pace the drinks. Serve drinks at regular, reasonable intervals. A drink-an-hour schedule usually means that good company prevails and you can avoid intoxication. Use small cups, mugs or glasses. Dilute the drink, such as mulled wine mixed with fruit juice.
- Push the snacks. Make sure that people are eating along with drinking. Have plenty of high-quality snacks such as cheese, meats, nuts, etc.
- Don't push the drinks. Let the glass be empty before you offer a refill.
- Serve nonalcoholic beverages. Remember that many people do not drink, may be on medications or are recovering alcoholics.
- Close the party. Decide, in advance, when you want your party to end. At this time, stop serving alcohol and serve coffee and a substantial snack. Coffee does not "sober up" intoxicated people and neither do cold showers. All you get is a "wide-awake and freezing drunk."
- Don't allow intoxicated guests to drive home.