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Holidays and Drinking Can Be Double Trouble

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Here's a word to the wise this holiday season.

drinking at christmas party

Jennifer Ginsberg: Drinking and the holidays are pretty common partners. Between now and the New Year, a "cup of cheer" can be hazardous for those already dealing with alcoholism, and for others who get caught up in the reveling and can't say no to just one more cup of eggnog punch.

While it is supposed to be a time of joyous reunion with loved ones, unfortunately, the holidays often expose personal problems and family rifts, which lead to heavy drinking.

Here are some tips on how to manage holiday drinking:

• Avoid Difficult Situations and People: There is no party or person that is worth risking your health over. If you don't feel like you can attend the event without taking a drink (if you are sober) or overindulging (if you are trying to cut back), then don't go! If you must make an appearance, then "bookend" the party. Call a supportive friend before you go and tell them that your intention is to not drink, and call the same person after you leave to report your progress.

• Don't Be Afraid to Make Requests or Contribute: It's striking how few non-alcoholic options there are at parties. Whether it's a work or family function, it is perfectly acceptable to bring non-alcoholic drinks to a party.

• Don't Forget to Eat: If you are starving when you get to the party, you are much more likely to make poor choices -- this applies not only to alcohol but food too! Having something in your system when you consume alcohol greatly reduces its effects. You will be less likely to binge drink if you have a healthy meal with your alcohol.

• Alternate with Non-Alcoholic Drinks: If you decide to drink alcohol, switch to water or a non-alcoholic beverage after your first drink.

• Use the Buddy System: If you're trying to cut down or eliminate alcohol from your holiday season, seek out a supportive friend who can join you for outings. Knowing you have someone with you who understands your goals will help you keep them.

• Take the Focus Off the Alcohol and Put It on the People: One of the benefits of being sober is that you get to authentically relate to people without the illusive connection that the buzz of alcohol provides. Ask your friends and family members how they're doing, and really listen to their responses. See how you can help the host during the party. By keeping busy and helping others, you will stay out of trouble.

• Have an Exit Strategy: Leave the party before it gets too rowdy, and plan a fun event afterwards.

• Most Importantly, If You Do Overindulge, Don't Drive: If despite your best intentions, you find yourself tipsy at the end of the night, swallow your pride and don't endanger lives by getting behind the wheel- no matter what!

• Know When to Get Help: If you're still having trouble, ask for help.

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