Drinking During the Holiday Season: What to be Aware of | Center on Addiction

Drinking During the Holiday Season: What to be Aware of

Drinking During the Holiday Season: What to be Aware of

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year – spending quality time with family and friends, gift giving and receiving, and holiday parties. With this merriment often comes more drinking, but what is it about these parties that makes people drink more than they usually do? It turns out your holiday celebrations can impact your alcohol consumption in ways you may not expect.

How loud is the music?

Perhaps it seems like common sense that people consume more alcohol when immersed in the club and bar scenes. What is more surprising is researchers have found that the presence of loud music results in individuals consuming more alcohol more quickly. These party environments also appear to alter the perceived taste of the alcohol, depending on the volume of the music playing. According to one study, alcohol tasted sweeter to individuals listening to loud club music than it did to individuals listening to nothing at all.

Where are you celebrating?

Office holiday parties and family gatherings can be a wonderful time to connect with colleagues, friends and loved ones, but the presence of alcohol seems to complicate matters for some people. According to a recent survey, 22 percent of adults felt pressured to drink at their office holiday party either to fit in, because their boss encouraged them, or they wanted to feel more relaxed. For half of adults surveyed, alcohol plays a role in their family holiday celebrations, and 38 percent of individuals said that being with family during the holidays is stressful.

What type of alcohol are you drinking?

Champagne sales spike during the week of New Year’s, such that they are seven times higher than in a typical week. The old myth that people get intoxicated faster while drinking champagne might have some truth, as researchers have found that the alcohol in bubbly champagne is absorbed by the bloodstream quicker than that of flat champagne. This same effect can be found with sparkling wine and other fizzy alcoholic beverages. It’s also important to note that a champagne flute may look small, but it can actually contain an overly generous serving, compared to a standard glass of wine.

Do you know your tolerance?

Intake of alcohol commonly increases for people during the holiday season. For many, this seems practically unavoidable given all of the parties and family gatherings. While alcohol consumption increases for more regular drinkers, the greatest increase in alcohol consumption during the holidays is by those who rarely drink. These people may misjudge their tolerance and level of impairment.

Familiarize yourself with what is safe drinking for you based on your gender and body mass.

With a little awareness and planning you can enjoy the season without overindulging. Cheers!

  Kate Feiner, MSW

  Kate Feiner is a Research Associate at Center
  on Addiction

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