Holidays can be a testing time for people who have recovered from a full-blown addiction and also those who are social drinkers. Knowing when to stop drinking can be a tricky part for many who like to drink but want to limit their alcohol intake.
Dennis Donovan, director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington has tips for people who want to join in the celebration but not end up with a nasty hangover or worse, a relapse:
- Count your drinks - It's easy to lose track of how much you consumed, so don't say "yes" to someone when they offer to refill your glass.
- Know your standard serving size - Knowing how much alcohol is served per drink can help you cut back on alcohol. Studies have shown that different types of glasses can also affect the amount of alcohol consumed by a person. People drinking from curved beer glasses are more likely to drink more beer than those who drink from straight glasses.
- Go for ginger ale - Standing without a drink with a group of people who are drinking can be awkward, so opt for ginger ale. Holding a glass with a liquid that resembles alcohol will not only save you from some awkward conversations, but also help you stay away from alcohol
- Follow the 'one drink per hour' rule - Take only one drink of standard size per hour. Between drinks, try drinking water or a non-alcoholic beverage. Also, ensure that you are well fed before you start drinking alcohol.
- Find support - For people who are moderate drinkers not wanting to exceed their drinking limits.
For people who have completed a full session of alcohol recovery program, attending social gathering that will have alcohol can be a tricky time. Donovan has some tips for these people that will help them stay sober during the holidays without having to avoid all social gatherings:
- Say no - Turn down drink offers firmly and confidently. Practice the skill of saying no to somebody before going to a party. This WILL be really tough the first time, but it's a skill that requires practice.
- Deal with cravings - With all that alcohol around you, craving is natural. So try and distract yourself whenever you crave for alcohol. Donovan says that imagining a craving like a wave helps people deal with it. Just like a wave - a crave starts off low then builds up in intensity and then crests.
- The stinking thinking - People who fall into a relapse often don't know when they started drinking again. It often starts with the thoughts that eventually lead to drinking. So watch out for thoughts that you know will make you want to drink.
- Find support groups - Social cues often are the trigger that gets people to drink more. Social support can help people wanting to quit alcohol stay sober for long. Donovan suggests groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Women for Sobriety or Secular Organization for Sobriety that can help people find support.