The holiday season is a “time for toys” and a “time for cheer”, but for most American adults, it’s also a time for good food and good drink. Among scents of myrrh and pine, most American households also enjoy traditional foods, differing from culture to culture, from a Christmas ham to Yiddish potato pancakes and Cajun catfish. And for each dinner table, there’s at least a few bottles of wine or eggnog to go around.
But the holiday season is more than just a few days of solstice and feasting. With New Years around the corner, it’s important to be reminded of the deleterious effects of binge drinking, the toll that New Years takes on many people’s plans of sobriety – and ways to avoid getting steamrolled and relapsing just a few hours before the start of a brand-new year.
If you’ve been staying sober, it can be a little difficult to stay committed to your sobriety while everyone else is indulging in a bit of drink this season, especially on New Year’s Eve. Learning to avoid temptation is crucial if you’re going to stay committed.
Next to Mardi Gras, no event in the entire year features as much booze and indulgence as New Year’s Eve. Known as one of the biggest parties thrown worldwide, it’s understandable that almost everyone of the right age – and many who are too young – are going to binge while watching the ball drop and the countdown begin.
The average adult consumes 4.4 drinks on New Years Eve, with many thousands of Americans consuming far and beyond much more than that. Anecdotally, countless Americans recount waking up on a January morning the next day feeling sick, while statistics show that 40 percent of women and 47 percent of men binge drink on New Year’s Eve. Furthermore, nearly half of all surveyed women and a good chunk of the men associate New Years Eve with booze the most, making one of the booziest holidays in the country by perception, and the de facto second booziest holiday by statistics.
Champagne, beer, and wine are the most preferred drinks of the winter season, swapping beer and wine for tequila and vodka as the new year rolls by. According to surveys, over a quarter of men reported blacking out on New Year’s Eve, alongside 16.7 percent of women. Adults in the 40-44 age range drank the most across both the winter holiday season and New Year’s, followed closely by adults aged 20-24.
In short? The numbers say that Americans start boozing up as soon as the beginning of December and go all out towards the final hours of the year – often with deleterious consequences, including accidents, drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, black outs, and death. But that doesn’t mean you have to indulge in the same way. Surviving holiday drinking means keeping an eye open for alternatives, staying stubborn, and understanding why binge drinking now is the worst idea you could go through with.
Navigating a Stressful Holiday Season
It’s not all fine and dandy sometimes. For many – especially parents – the holiday season is a time for stress and planning. If you can get into the Christmas spirit, you might be able to mitigate some of this – but by and large, it’s possible that the winter season is going to lay you flat on your back and roll over you with tasks, deadlines, costs, time constraints, all while calling for dozens of impossible juggling acts.
Navigating this stressful holiday season is an artform in many ways, but there are some essential tips to help keep you sane – and sober. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:
Make time for yourself. This sounds absolutely ridiculous given what you’re already making time for, so keep your “me time” short. Instead of an hour-long bath, enjoy a 15-minute hot shower at the end of the day. Instead of relaxing with some tea and video games, get a short play session into your evening just before bed, or finish a chapter or two of your new book.
Instead of spending an hour at the gym, cut it down to 15-20 minutes at home. Don’t drop your hobbies completely – it’s normal to do so when time constraints call for it but consider instead reorganizing your day, so you get at least a few minutes in to be yourself, with yourself, no matter what.
Get help. Professional help is one thing, especially when you’re worried about relapsing, but consider just getting help in general. It’s not a good thing to have too much on your plate, so chances are you might be able to mitigate some of the stress and costs of the winter season by collaborating with a friend or family member. Combine forces, and bring families together for a joint holiday celebration, which will be easier on the pockets and the calendars.
Find alternatives. Yes, stress makes you want to drink. It’s normal to crave old vices when under pressure, but it’s important not to give in. That means having a way to vent when things get bad. It’s a good idea to find a therapist, or work with your current one, to find your healthiest possible alternative ways to deal with stress while avoiding drinking during the holiday season.
Furthermore, it’s a good idea to dig up a list of delicious alternative drinks for the holiday season if you’re going to be having anything to drink during events, meals, and get-togethers. If you’re the kind of person to enjoy making cocktails, get inventive with different concentrates, fruit juices, sodas and waters. Make your own mix or try any of hundreds of online sober alternatives.
It’s About Family
The holiday season is about family, whatever that might mean to you. Some people aren’t on good terms with their biological family – but that just mean you turn to your friends as crucial loved ones.
The holiday season is a time to be with those that matter to you the most, celebrating moments passed, and looking forward to a completely unpredictable and exciting future. You don’t need booze to enjoy another person’s company – in fact, you might be surprised how rewarding it is to celebrate the holidays completely sober.