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During the holiday season, binge drinking is one of the most common health threats. Overdrinking happens when someone consumes more than five glasses of drinks within two hours. All too often, what causes this is that people are too merry to notice how many holiday drinks or bottles of beer they have drunk throughout the merry-making.
If you happen to identify with this, know that heavy drinking can affect your health or your relationship with your family, friends, or co-workers. To avoid experiencing such a consequence, here are 10 tips on how to avoid overdrinking.
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1. Keep a drinking journal
If you want to prevent overdrinking, start by asking yourself how much you can drink and remain sober. Write down any situation you were in that caused you to drink beyond your limit. Describe how you felt after your heavy drinking session. Writing down these details will help you identify your overdrinking triggers and remember the negative effects of binge drinking. Then you can find ways to avoid it.
Also, make sure to keep an honest update of your journal. You need discipline and effort to be mindful of your overdrinking habits. After all, no one can keep track but yourself.
2. Think of the consequences before you binge drink
Makers of alcoholic beverages don’t remind people to drink moderately for anything. Overdrinking can lead to long-term health issues such as fatty liver, hypertension, memory loss, and cancer.
If that doesn’t worry you, what about passing out on the street or doing something unimaginable—all because you’ve had one-holiday drink too many? Binge drinking has been associated with unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, car accidents, and unemployment.
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3. Find ways to address your drinking triggers
Heavy drinking stems from a trigger. This trigger could be a manifestation of an unpleasant emotional state. For example, you are experiencing burnout at work and your boss won’t approve your vacation leave. This could trigger you to invite your friends for some holiday drinks and complain about your situation. Before you realize it, you have gone overboard with your limit.
Instead of overdrinking alcohol, find other ways to deal with stressful situations in your life. Find healthy ways to deal with work-related stress and other unpleasant situations that don’t involve alcoholic drinks, like exercising and doing crafts with a loved one during your free time.
4. Enjoy something else besides drinking
Do you think that a good conversation over holiday drinks is the only way to have fun this holiday season? Think again, because even non-drinkers have a great time, too.
So, your challenge to stop overdrinking is to find other enjoyable activities during a holiday get-together that don’t involve alcohol, at all. An example would be to join or organize exciting Christmas party games for your family and friends. Laughing with and building better relationships with your loved ones over a few games can release those happy hormones which can help you forget about wanting a drink.
If you’re at a company party or a club, focus on the music and bust some moves on the dance floor. Find non-drinkers you can have long conversations with. Or go around the room and mingle, with or without a club soda in your hand.
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5. Refuse politely
“Minsan lang naman” or “You only do it sometimes” are common excuses that people come up with for overdrinking. It doesn’t matter if the excuse is coming from you or the person offering you holiday drinks. What absolutely matters is to keep your focus to fend off alcohol. The key is to stay pleasant but assertive in saying “no”.
Or, if you’ve already had too many holiday drinks the day before or at last week’s event, then now’s a good time to stay home and chillax. You know exactly when to stop because your body will exhibit symptoms of overdrinking. Listen to those signs.
6. Don’t pre-drink, period
Pre-drinking involves consuming alcohol before going to a party or a bar. If your goal is to avoid overdrinking, then pre-drinking is not the way to go. you’ve already had a few holiday drinks, what makes you think it would be easy to stop when you arrive at the party?
Hence, if any of your friends, family, or co-workers invite you to a pre-drinking session, make a stand and politely turn them down. You can frankly say that you’re avoiding overdrinking because you will drive home or you have a very important engagement at work the next day.
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7. Eat before drinking
If you really must have a few holiday drinks, never go drinking on an empty stomach. Enjoy the buffet and stuff yourself with food; so that your body will take longer to digest the alcohol. Also, this will help you to drink moderately in between your meals.
8. Drink slowly
Don’t treat holiday drinks like water, even if you’re thirsty. Drink moderately and slow down your intake. If you’re drinking with somebody, don’t let yourself be pressured into pacing your drinking with them. Chances are if the person you’re with is binge drinking, you’ll end up overdrinking, too. You might even end up drinking holiday drinks that you can’t handle. Tell yourself: drinking is not a competition.
Make a conscious effort to drink at your own, slow pace. You can try limiting yourself to one holiday drink per hour. At this rate, you can still enjoy drinking without having to deal with the pressure from your family, friends, or co-workers. If they take notice, distract them with tall tales and corny jokes. Hey, ’tis the season to be jolly, after all!
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9. Drink a non-alcoholic drink in between
To slow down the effect of alcoholic drinks, drink water or other non-alcoholic beverages in between. Remember that you could end up overdrinking when you’re thirsty; so make sure to drink enough water.
Like alcohol, though, don’t rush gulping down your non-alcoholic beverage. Enjoy it for at least 40 minutes. This can help prevent people from noticing and teasing you for not binge drinking. If you want to avoid being pressured into grabbing more holiday drinks, you can drink flavored sparkling water, like lemon or strawberry. Or, try rhum Coke, i.e. rum mixed with Coca-cola.
10. Ask for help
Some people may not know the difference between overdrinking and alcohol use disorders. That could be you. So if you feel like you’ve tried everything on this list and nothing seems to work, it’s time to call for back-up. Consider taking bigger steps to address your overdrinking. Seek medical help and join alcoholic support groups, or Alcoholics Anonymous if you start feeling out of control. There’s no shame in seeking help. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
The process to overcome the addiction may be difficult, but these are the steps for a healthier you for the years to come. Overcoming the urge to drink can help you feel a sense of achievement and relief. Plus, your loved ones will appreciate your dedication to keeping yourself healthy for them is the greatest gift they will receive from you.