During the holiday season, gatherings and parties are a part of the festivities. Unfortunately, so are alcohol-related accidents and deaths.
Many people who attend seasonal parties seldom drink alcohol, making them more vulnerable to its effects, according to experts at UC Davis Health System in California. Meanwhile, heavy drinkers may use holiday gatherings as an opportunity to let loose and drink too much, the experts cautioned.
Drinking in moderation can help prevent alcohol-related injuries and health issues. It’s also important to appoint a designated driver who will stay sober and ensure partygoers get home safely, the experts advised.
Everyone metabolizes alcohol differently. U.S. health officials define moderate drinking as one drink per day for women and two drinks for men.
The type of alcohol also matters. One drink is the equivalent of:
- 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.
- 5 ounces of wine.
- 12 ounces of beer.
Though the federal standards may sound extreme, the UC Davis experts pointed out that alcohol is a poison that is quickly absorbed into the blood. It may cause people to become less inhibited, but it can also trigger feelings of depression.
Anyone who’s had a few too many probably knows what a hangover feels like. This is actually a sign that the body is going through withdrawal from alcohol, the experts said.
Over time, heavy drinking can result in serious health issues, including liver damage and heart disease.
People who are hosting holiday parties can take steps to ensure their guests stay safe and avoid alcohol-related problems. The UC Davis experts offered these tips:
- Don’t pressure anyone to drink.
- Offer a variety of non-alcoholic beverages and serve food.
- Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party ends.
- Don’t let guests who are drunk continue drinking.
- Don’t allow guests to drive if they have had too much to drink. Remember: Coffee or a cold shower won’t sober someone up. It takes time to get alcohol out of the blood.
- People with drinking problems should make a plan for how they are going to manage being around alcohol during the holidays.
Party-goers don’t have to bring alcohol as a gift for their host, the experts noted. Teas, hot chocolate, cider and coffee are great non-alcoholic alternatives.
Parents attending holiday parties should set a good example for their children. It’s important to send kids the message that they can have fun even without alcohol.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides additional holiday health and safety tips.