Keep in control of alcohol intake over the holidays with these tips

During the holidays, we are often inundated with opportunities for merry-making, but too much of some seasonal spirits can leave you feeling wrung out. We reached out to Michael Amlung, associate director for training at the Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment, a Life Span Institute research center, for some tips to help navigate the season and resources.

“We’re are mindful that there are certain events that are associated with higher than normal drinking for some individuals, such as holidays, or that they are a period of increased stress,” Amlung said.

Two women with sequin dress and costume antlers on their heads smile with a Christmas tree in the backgroundBe mindful or your intensions

We know alcohol decreases inhibitions and impairs physical and mental abilities. Heading into a holiday party, plan your limits while sober to avoid overdoing it later. If you have difficulty turning down another drink, it’s fine to stick to mocktails and soda.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) offers some strategies:

  • Keep track of how much you drink.
  • Have a plan for politely declining alcohol.
  • Avoid triggers that make you drink when you don’t want to.
  • Be aware of what counts as a drink: 12 ounces of beer is one drink; 5 ounces of wine is one drink; and 1.5 ounces of spirits is one drink.

Consider the purpose behind your drinking

Many people use alcohol to relax, to relieve social anxiety, to have fun or to enjoy the taste. Being aware of the motivations behind alcohol use may help you find other ways to meet these needs without alcohol — or without going over the limits you’ve set for yourself.

For example, a game of darts might provide an avenue to get to know others at a party. Have a few friends to check in with, and don’t be afraid to step away from the crowd if you need a break.

If taste is what you’re after, you can find a signature mocktail and offer to break it out at the party. There are also new options for non-alcoholic or low alcohol craft beer and wine.

If you’re hosting a party, provide alternatives to alcohol

Some guests may prefer to stay sober, and all guests should stay safe. If you’re hosting a party, there are several ways to ensure people enjoy themselves without feeling pressured to drink up.

Advice from the NIAAA includes:

  • Avoid calling attention to guests who decline to drink.
  • Serve a variety of alcohol-free drinks, including water, juice or sodas.
  • Avoid drinking games and other triggers.
  • Keep the alcohol separate from other beverages to help guests manage their drinking.
  • Provide plenty of food options, which slows absorption of alcohol and offers alternatives to drinking.

Access more resources for help

Amlung noted that the Cofrin Logan Center has a list of locally offered community services that anyone can access. For example, SMART Recovery groups welcome anyone struggling with addictive behaviors and have free virtual meetings twice a week. People may also call the SMARTline for help with addiction between 4 and 8 p.m. seven days a week at 785-550-0764.

In addition, the NIAAA offers several resources for individuals considering treatment for substance use.