For many people, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. It can also be the most stressful. Many people turn to alcohol to self-soothe in times of stress, and the holidays are a great example. Also, seeing others look so seemingly happy and joyous and not sharing their emotions can make people turn to substances to feel better. People also drink at holiday parties or to celebrate special occasions. Research shows a significant increase in alcohol consumption during the holidays. Here are some ways to keep the holidays bright and avoid abusing alcohol during this stressful time:
1. Know what normal drinking habits are
Many people do not know the true symptoms of addition. Alcoholics in the media are often portrayed as grizzly homeless men, bored housewives, or overworked professionals; but alcoholism can affect anyone. Similarly, media also portrays binge-drinking and alcohol abuse as normal; but it is not normal to be hungover every weekend or the day after every holiday.
The definition of normal drinking habits will vary from person to person but pay attention if you notice your drinking increases significantly over the holidays. Alcohol abuse is technically defined as having more than one drink per day for women, or more than two drinks per day for men. Monitor yourself to see if you are exceeding this regularly during the holidays.
2. Open up
If you think someone else has a drinking problem, and it is especially noticeable around the holidays, talk to them about it. Do not bring it up when the person is already drinking or intoxicated. Wait for a sober moment to gently point out that you notice they are drinking more than usual around the holidays, and ask if they want to talk about anything that’s triggering them or if they need help. Do not label them or accuse them of anything, but let them know you are there to listen and assist them.
3. Prepare yourself
If you already know you are susceptible to struggles with alcohol, learn your triggers. Family gatherings, holiday parties, and financial burdens are all stressors that surround the holidays. Know your limits and set boundaries. If you are feeling stressed and you think that holiday work party might just put you over the edge, don’t go. If you can’t afford to buy everyone in your extended family a gift, don’t do it. Others will understand that you need to take care of yourself, and if not, too bad for them. You need to prioritize your sobriety and mental well-being first.
4. Ask for help
If you are worried that you may relapse or that you’re abusing alcohol, you don’t have to go through it alone. Seek help from friends, family, or professionals to help keep you accountable and stay sober through the holidays. Do not wait until something bad has already happened to ask for help. There is no shame in asking for help, and it always better to act preventatively.