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Tips To Cut Back Your Alcohol Consumption During The Holidays And Beyond

When we don’t want to get sick, we think about eating healthy foods, staying hydrated and washing our hands. When we want to lose weight, we consider increasing exercise, cutting back on carbs and sugar and eating small meals throughout the day. When we want to change our drinking habits, where to begin? For some, going cold turkey is the only answer. For others, it’s a slower process that begins with clearly identifying when, why and how much you drink.

This is the time of year when heavy drinking seems to ramp up because of holiday parties, increased stress of getting work done before year end and for some, due to loneliness or depression at this time of year. To avoid going down this road, it helps to think about creative ways to support your sobriety:

1. Fill the time you would go out to a bar or be drinking at home with an activity or hobby.

2. Start by refusing to drink at least one day a week, then make it two, etc.

3. Set a goal to reach by the end of the month. Use the money you saved on not buying alcohol to treat yourself to something special.

4. Change who you hang out with. If your friends all congregate at bars, look for a new group that likes to participate in healthier activities.

5. Consider that you will have more energy and most likely lose weight.

6. If you are trying to taper back, try having a glass of water in between drinks to help pace yourself.

7. Keep track of how much you are drinking. Many restaurants now pour pre-measured amounts of wine into your glass to avoid having to eyeball how much should be poured. A standard glass of wine is 5 ounces. A standard amount of beer is a 12-ounce can or bottle. A shot of 80 proof liquor is 1-½ ounces.

8. Don’t keep alcohol in the house. This will make it more difficult for you to break down and have “just one”. Spend the money on filling your cabinets with other drinks that you consider treats instead.

9. When you get to a party, start with a non-alcoholic drink first to help fill you up, quench your thirst and slow you down.

10. Plan in advance how you will say no. If people are used to your heavy drinking habits, they might continue to top off your drink or push them on you. Stay strong and don’t back down on their urging.

11.  Take an alcohol awareness class to strengthen your resolve to abstain by learning the long-term effects of alcohol abuse on the body. 

The reality is that it might look like everyone is having more fun when they are consuming alcohol but you must also remember how overdrinking feels the next day. You won’t be able to jump out of bed and go exercise or get things done because you’ll probably be feeling sluggish from a bad night of sleep. Alcohol makes us fall asleep more quickly but as it wears off it interferes and reduces our deep sleep patterns. Furthermore, alcohol is dehydrating and too much drinking leaves us to wake up to a headache, bloodshot eyes, and sometimes shakiness. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll waste the night or next morning with nausea and vomiting. All in all, cutting down or completely abstaining from alcohol will make you a more productive, healthier and happier person in the long run!

What To Expect If You Get Convicted Of A First Offense DUI

The holidays are a time of excitement and joy as families congregate from far distances to celebrate their traditions together. As we’ve previously discussed, the holiday season is also a dangerous time of year to be on the roads due to the numerous social events, which generally include consuming alcohol. Let’s face it, it’s a time when people feel compelled to drink even if they aren’t normally drinkers, and abusive drinkers have even more opportunities for just “one” more. The tragic fact is that in 2011, about 9,900 people were killed in alcohol related driving crashes. So, when you are considering getting behind that wheel after a night of celebrating, think again. You don’t want to be the one who destroys another life, as well as your own.

Also consider that there is a heightened awareness about drinking and driving this time of year. Law enforcement is out in full force trying to protect the general public from intoxicated drivers. Just this past Thanksgiving, a few examples include: West Virginia police arrested 44 people for DUI, Kansas Highway Patrol officers made 20 arrests, State Police in Connecticut made 43 DUI arrests, in Orange County, CA 59 people were arrested for suspected drunk driving, and 19 in Victorville, CA.

If you live in California, according to the State Justice Department, 214,828 DUI arrests were made in 2012. In Florida, DUI arrests totaled 61,852, Michigan was at 35,534 and North Carolina was at 49,599. If you are pulled over for drunk driving, you can expect to get taken to jail in a police car and someone will have to come down to the court house to get you, or you will be held for a designated period of time until you sober up. Then you will be given a court date in which you have to appear in front of a judge. If you are convicted based on things like the field sobriety test, blood test, the visuals from the police car dashboard camera or a Breathalyzer test, you will have your license suspended. This happens in every state even if it’s your first conviction. Think about how this will affect getting to work, taking the kids to school or doing any of your daily responsibilities that require transportation. People around you are bound to find out because you’ll be dropped off at work or need their help. Furthermore, you can also expect to pay a court fine. This coupled with the increase in your car insurance policy and the lawyer’s fees will cost you a hefty sum.

It’s not over yet. You can’t just pay your way out of the situation but have to then devote a designated amount of time to an alcohol education program. And, in 15 states including Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington you will have a mandatory ignition interlock device put on your car after you do regain your driving privilege.

All of this and you thankfully haven’t gotten in an accident or injured anyone else. It’s just not worth it. So, a good rule of thumb this holiday season is to find a designated driver, take a taxi or walk home if you’ve been drinking this holiday season!

Play It Safe This Holiday Weekend, Don't Drink and Drive!

As we welcome the beginning of the holiday season, it’s time to also remind everyone to play it safe. The AAA projects that about 44 million people will travel over this long weekend and that about 90% of them will reach their destinations by car. This is in part thanks to the fact that gas prices are lower, so more families can afford to visit extended family this year. There is also the rare phenomenon that Hanukkah starts over the Thanksgiving holiday as well, so it’s a perfect time to see loved ones and “kill two birds with one stone”. It’s a happy time filled with the warmth of family and friends, but it’s also important to remember that Thanksgiving statistically is one of the four federal holidays during which we see an increase in fatal crashes, even more than on New Years Eve!

There are a few different reasons for this increase in fatalities. First of all, there are more drivers on the road. Secondly, many people try to get to their destinations by driving late at night on Wednesday and are tired, and are travelling in places that they don’t necessarily know the roads or the normal traffic flow patterns. Lastly, the night before Thanksgiving or “Black Wednesday” when the majority of travelers are trying to get places is also considered to be one of the busiest bar nights of the year. In fact, many hot spots advertise “Black Wednesday” specials and encourage people to come out and party - “It’s Black Wednesday. Drink it up!” Why not? Most people have the next day off from work and want to get out before spending all day Thursday in the confined space of someone’s home. And, in many cases, people have returned to their hometowns for the holiday and want to get together with old friends.

Most people don’t consider that the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is one of the deadliest each year due to an increase in alcohol related incidents by as much as 25%, and it’s also a huge binge night for underage drinkers as well. At the college level, kids get together for on campus parties if they can’t get home for the holidays. In many homes, parents seem to become more lenient about letting their young adults drink because they’re happy to have them home and want them to enjoy themselves. It turns out to be a time of year when it’s easier for underage drinkers to get their hands on alcohol. Statistics show that almost 19% of individuals involved in fatal car accidents over the holidays have a blood alcohol level at or above .08% and are 16 to 20 years old!

When it comes to holiday drinking at any age, a huge issue is that people are often drinking over a longer period of time, are around others they don’t see often, are in situations that might be more stressful, and are staying up later than usual. This mixture can lead to the deadly combination of too much drinking, too much said, and poor judgment.

To play it safe this holiday weekend:

1. Don’t drink and drive even if you’ve only had “one” drink.

2. Avoid driving during rush hour on Wednesday night or late that evening.

3. If you do drive, drive cautiously and defensively.

4. If you do go out drinking with friends, opt for warm and satisfying non-alcoholic drinks like spiced apple cider, hot chocolate, decaf coffee drinks or hot spiced lemonade.

Also keep in mind that the highway patrol will be out in full force trying to keep communities safe. Expect more DUI checkpoints and more police presence on the roads.

Why These Ten Celebrities Don't Drink

As we enter into the official start of the holiday season next week with Thanksgiving gatherings, it’s an important time to think about your daily or weekly alcohol consumption. For many families, holiday get togethers can be stressful situations and alcohol consumption might seem like the answer to calming nerves. Or, for others, it’s been an intense year and alcohol intake may have been slowly ramping up. Let’s face it; there are a host of reasons why you shouldn’t drink. We know that even in moderation it can contribute to depression, poor decision-making skills, delay in reflexes, slurred speech, aggressive behavior, and a lack of balance. In the long-term, alcohol consumption can contribute to cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and other central nervous system issues. Scientists are also finding more and more of a correlation between habitual drinking and cancer. One study in 2011 found that consuming 3 – 6 alcoholic drinks per week increased a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer by 15%.

Alcohol abuse is a serious condition and now is as good a time as any to reduce dependency or work on abstaining altogether. For some inspiration, The Huffington Post just compiled a list of popular celebrities of all ages who don’t drink. Some of them include:

1. Jennifer Hudson – has never had a drink in her life!

2. Russell Brand – sober for 10 years.

3. Jada Pinkett Smith – sober for 8 years.

4. Colin Ferrell – sober for 7 years.

5. Christina Ricci

6. Blake Lively – doesn’t feel the need.

7. Tobey McGuire – sober since 19 years old.

8. Kim Cattrall

9. Kristin Davis – sober for 26 years.

10. Matthew Perry

On many entertainers’ minds is how alcohol abuse increases the rate of the aging process. Jennifer Lopez comes right and out says she doesn’t drink because it ruins her skin. Other beauties that don’t partake include Supermodel Tyra Banks and Kim Kardashian. There is something to be said for this. Alcohol is extremely dehydrating and has diuretic qualities depriving the skin of the moisture and nutrients it needs to stay youthful. It works as a vasodilator so your face looks red and flush, puffy and swollen. This increased blood flow to the face can turn into broken capillaries, especially around the nose. These celebrities have figured out that aside from the emotional aspects of drinking, excessive alcohol consumption leads to dull, wrinkled and reddish looking skin. Furthermore, consuming two or more drinks less than two hours before going to bed disturbs sleep patterns. It might make you fall asleep more quickly, but as it wears off in the middle of the night, it increases your chances of waking up. This disruption in the normal sleep cycle can lead to dark circles, puffiness and exhaustion the next day.

In terms of success and career, more and more high profile individuals are vocal about the fact that drinking was holding them back from reaching their goals and aspirations. Their lives were becoming train wrecks full of broken relationships and bad behavior. In some cases, it takes stints in rehab but for others psychotherapy, group therapy and support groups like AA and alcohol education classes are enough to keep individuals on the wagon. You can take positive steps to stop your drinking by getting involved with one of these programs today.

Using Alcohol To Beat Stress Doesn't Work In The Long-Term

One way that some people respond to stress is to drink alcohol to help them relax and calm down. A hard day at work, ongoing issues with a spouse, financial difficulties, traffic delays, worries over the kids can all contribute to that feeling of pressure and tension. The feeling of being stressed can help you by keeping you alert, focused and motivated. Stress can also cause anger, moodiness, agitation, poor judgment, and anxiety as well as insomnia, weight gain or loss, nausea, diarrhea, and a lowered immune system. When stress is ongoing and one isn’t able to resolve the issues causing it, alcohol can come into play.

The myth is that a drink or two will calm your nerves. It might in the short-term help you to forget about the situation, put you to sleep or take away the feeling of being overwhelmed, however, research shows that in the long term it can lead to heavy drinking by increasing your desire for it, and in turn your risk for alcohol dependence. In fact, the pairing of alcohol use and long-term chronic stress can permanently impair the body’s ability to function in a balanced way. Research shows that it actually contributes to feelings of drepression and anxiety, making it even more difficult to deal with stess.

So, how can you tell if you’re becoming one of the approximately 18 million adult Americans who are considered alcoholics or have drinking problems? Take a look at some of the warning signs:

1. You look forward to a drink to relieve stress on a daily basis.

2. You crave a drink every day.

3. You have become physically dependent. This includes nausea, sweats, shakiness or headaches when you don’t drink.

4. You can’t stop drinking once you’ve started.

5. You have found yourself drinking more than you used to in order to relax.

If you have come to the conclusion that you are not handling stress in a healthy way and are instead drinking too much, there are a number of different approaches to help you cut down or abstain completely. Support groups like AA have proven to be successful. One-on-one therapy is also highly beneficial. Alcohol and drug awareness classes can be taken online from your home to learn concrete strategies to lower your stress level and cut down or abstain from drinking altogether.

Many people stop by going cold turkey. If this seems a bit harsh or extreme for you, then here are some tips to follow that can help you reduce your habit:

1. Start by reflecting on your lifestyle and begin keeping track of when you are drinking.

2. Choose a number of days you will have a drink. If you’ve been drinking everyday, try to skip a day here and there.

3. Get support from your family and friends. Be open with them and ask them not to offer you alcoholic beverages and to do their best to not drink around you.

4. Redirect the time you spent drinking towards a healthier activity. Find a sport you enjoy, start a new hobby, and get involved with volunteer work so you don’t find yourself with that extra time on your hands.

5. If it’s your work environment that is contributing to your stress level or your co-worker who encourage drinking, take a serious look at changing jobs to get away from these negative influences.

In the long run, alcohol isn’t a solution for stress. That feeling of being able to get away from the pain with a drink or two will eventually need 3, 4 or 5 drinks. With more alcohol consumption comes more health issues. Don’t go down this path. Instead work on the emotional issues that are causing the stress and your capacity to respond appropriately without alcohol will improve. The support and education you gain during this process will also benefit you by increasing your self-esteem and close relationships.