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Take action this New Year’s Eve and plan ahead! As we all know, New Years celebrations tend to be alcohol fueled as it suddenly becomes socially acceptable to drink way too much. It’s difficult not to get caught up in the festivity, especially if you are trying to quit or are a newly recovering alcoholic. Or, if you choose to stay home to avoid the scene altogether, becoming lonely can also trigger a relapse. So what to do?

First of all, you can arrange your own sober party. It may look very different than in years past, but come up with your own array of delicious non-alcoholic drinks to serve to your own handpicked list of guests. You may not realize that even people who aren’t dealing with alcoholism often appreciate a sober party where they can have intelligent conversations, play games and enjoy an evening they will actually remember. Many find that it can be really boring and frustrating spending the evening with a bunch of inebriated people and some party-goers will be appreciative not to waste New Years Day feeling sick and hung-over.

If you do accept an invitation to a party to avoid loneliness and don’t want to drink, be prepared. This means know ahead of time who will support your sobriety and whom you can hang out with. If you can’t come up with anyone that is already invited, ask if you can bring a friend. Bring a bottle of your favorite non-alcoholic drink to sip on throughout the evening. If things start to get uncomfortable, leave!

If you do plan on drinking, it’s also important to plan ahead by leaving your car keys at home! According to the National Safety Council, there are more fatal alcohol related car crashes over New Years from 6 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. then on Christmas. Being just a little “buzzed” is equivalent to being impaired. Designate a non-drinking driver or take a taxi to get home because you really don’t want to take a chance and end up with a DUI.

You can bet that there will be more DUI checkpoints set up around town than usual to help keep everyone safe, and starting out 2015 with a DUI offense will be a real bummer. The cost of a Driving Under the Influence conviction varies by state, but the average is around a staggering $10,000! For example, in Texas it can range anywhere from $9,000 - $24,000 and in Illinois it’s around $15,000. Aside from the financial pain, you will most likely have to miss work or school for possible jail time, court dates, and any community service work that is mandated. Your license will be suspended so you will have to find alternate ways to get around, your insurance can double or triple and many states now require DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices once they get their licenses back, so the car won’t start if it detects any amount of alcohol on your breath. You will have to take time out of your busy schedule to either attend in-person alcohol awarenss classes or take them online.  Finally, if your job requires you to drive, you might lose it. It’s less expensive and less stressful to just make sure you don’t get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking this New Years Eve so take action and plan ahead!