Thursday, November 21, 2013

Five considerations about alcohol and the holidays

For those in recovery, sober is the only way to do the holidays.  For non-alcoholics, here's some food for thought...

Nearly half of annual domestic sales of wine and roughly 40 percent of higher-priced spirits are sold in the final three months of the year as consumers tend to drink more and buy alcoholic beverages as gifts or to bring to holiday parties and other special occasions. Then there are the office parties and gatherings of family and friends.

For many, abstinence is a year-round plan, and for those who may be concerned about their drinking, here are five fast facts about the season of drinking that demonstrate the value or moderation or abstinence.

Parents, not peers, set drinking examples. Much of parental alcohol abuse or the disease of alcoholism is only occasionally visible to the world outside the family. However, children get their attitudes toward alcohol by observing how the adults around them behave while drinking. Christmas can be stressful. Getting home, complaining to our partner and having a drink seems normal. But stop and think what that might be teaching your children – that alcohol is a coping mechanism.

Drink responsibly – you don’t have to finish the bottle just because it’s open, or even drain your glass. Know your limit. Once you’ve reached it, set the example. Also, when planning a family celebration where teens might be present, try to reach an agreement on rules for them beforehand. Don’t feel pressured to let your teen drink if you’ve already decided they shouldn’t drink before a certain age. And don’t feel hypocritical for drinking when you’ve told your kids they can’t. Explain that alcohol is for adults because their bodies have finished growing, and even then, there are laws about drinking and driving. (See nine more alcohol tips for holiday parenting.)

Alcohol adds calories. Many Americans worry about the extra calories from that green Jello stuff or slab of pumpkin pie. Put down the extra glass of wine and save yourself about 200 calories. If you drink a glass of wine before dinner, another glass with dinner and a sweet wine for dessert, that’s more than 400 calories in addition to the meal. If three beers help that dry turkey seem more palatable, that will add an extra 450 calories. (See more in this related article.)

Company parties are back. A recent survey by executive search firm Battalia Wilson found that 91 percent of the companies polled will have holiday parties this year, a significant increase from last year’s low of just 74 percent. If you’re a business owner hosting a party, you have liability. For a former drinker struggling with sobriety, there is no shame in skipping a bash. Otherwise, if you’re an attendee, ginger ale looks just like a cocktail and may keep you from legal trouble on the roads, because…

More people get in collisions during the holidays. Twenty-five people die on an average day in alcohol-related crashes. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, the average spikes to 45 alcohol-involved traffic deaths daily. December is Drunk and Buzzed Driving Month to emphasize the dangers of drinking and driving during the travel- and celebration-intensive season. Motor vehicle violations involving alcohol increase an average of 54 percent after Thanksgiving. Twelve hundred Americans will die on the roads this month from intoxicated driving crashes. The numbers are higher in years when Christmas and New Year's land on a weekend, which they won’t this year.

Alcohol-related violent crime increases in December. The Department of Justice reports alcohol-related violent crime is highest in December compared to the rest of the year except July – which is a statistical tie. One-third of state prisoners and one-fifth of federal prisoners report alcohol use at the time of the offense. Twenty-one percent of federal prisoners serving time for a violent offense reported alcohol use at the time of the offense. An earlier study in 2008 by Pew Research revealed that 25 percent of state prisoners given a standard questionnaire to screen for the disease of alcoholism tested positive.
--from (see full article)

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