Christmas trees, holiday music, presents, feasts, family and, alcohol. Yes, that’s right, this is the season of alcohol. There are holiday parties, Cheer in the air, and toasts as The Ball Drops. But, as exciting as all this fun may sound, there is also a real danger in binge drinking, too. Binge drinking is consuming a lot of alcohol in a short amount of time. For men, binge drinking is having five or more alcoholic drinks within a two hour time frame, and for women it is four drinks in two hours.
As the holiday season progresses, the binge drinking increases. But why? Binge drinking increases at the holiday season due to the frequency of festivities, heightened stress from family, buying presents, and all the other responsibilities that this season brings.

Binge drinkers typically do not have alcohol dependency. They go about their day to day lives often without alcohol but rather they just “let loose” at festivities or parties. The problem with this scenario is that people who binge drink often overestimate their abilities. This increases chances of injuries like car accidents, violence, being a victim of sexual abuse, or engaging in behaviors that are unsafe, embarrassing or inappropriate leading to regret or loss when they sober up. And with so many parties this season, there are a lot more opportunities to misjudge situations. In fact, the Center for Disease and Control has indicated that binge drinking is the cause of over 79,000 deaths each year. And, on a less drastic note, binge drinking increases your chances of engaging in embarrassing behaviors. Who wants to start the New Year feeling embarrassed at work, at home or with extended family and friends? Start off the New Year on a motivated and uplifting foot and enjoy the holidays, just be sure to think before you binge.

Here are some tips on how to avoid binge drinking and have a safe holiday season if you choose to drink:

1. Before you go to a holiday party, eat. Do not drink on an empty stomach.

2. After each drink, drink a glass of water.

3. Be sure to take your drink with you at all times.

4. Pace yourself when drinking. You do not have to binge.

5. Eat at a holiday party and be cautious of eating food that has alcohol in it.

6. Have a designated driver if you plan to drink.

7. Before you go to a holiday party, set your limit up front and stick to it. In fact, try to always have an accountability partner with you- like friends or a family member. Tell your accountability partner that you plan to drink and that after 1 drink they need to take your keys, allow you to spend the night, or call you a cab.

8. If you plan to drink at a holiday party and are going to the party alone, take a cab there, that way you can’t make the mistake of driving your car home that night.

9. Remember, you do not have to attend every party you are invited to. If you don’t want to go, stay home.

10. If you are going to a work related holiday celebration, beforehand think of the consequences of drinking and saying or doing something inappropriate. If it’s not worth the risk, limit yourself to 1 drink at work holiday parties.

Take the time to enjoy the holidays and your successes from all year. Ring in 2016 with fun, but also with responsibility and safety.