Published on: 20 December 2019
On TV, the Christmas holidays are a time of happy families, delicious food and great presents. But for many people, the festive season is a difficult time – in 2017, the Samaritans received 400,000 calls to its helpline during December, including 11,000 on Christmas Day.
Christmas is a time when many people like to raise a glass of their favourite tipple. But for some people, the pressure to have a drink, or the risk to them if they do, is difficult to cope with. We sought advice on coping at Christmas from our substance misuse services.
Dealing with drinking over Christmas
Breakout is the young people’s drug and alcohol service for Derby. When it comes to letting your hair down over the festive period, the Breakout team recommends that we all follow the advice from the organisation Alcohol Change, which includes:
Drink and think in units
The UK’s Chief Medical Officers (top doctors) recommend not drinking more than 14 units a week; that means about six pints of lager or a bottle and a half of wine. Use a unit calculator online to help you work out exactly what you’re drinking.
Enjoy each drink slowly, and remember that you don’t have to join in with every round! It can help to only drink the drinks you really enjoy and skip the ones you’re drinking for the sake of it.
Try drinking low alcohol and alcohol-free drinks
Alcohol-free beers, ciders and wines used to taste unappealing, but they’ve improved so much in recent years that they’re winning awards in place of their full-strength competitors. Lots of supermarkets now have alcohol-free sections. Check out the no- and low-alcohol reviews online to help you get started.
It’s fine to say no
Not everyone drinks alcohol, and it’s fine to say no. It’s surprising how many people think it’s OK to pressure other people to drink – it’s not!
Have a few days off
Having a few alcohol-free days is a good way to cut down and give your body a rest. It’s safest not to drink more than 14 units per week, spread over three or more days and with a few days off.
Eat before and while you drink
Have something to eat before you drink and, if possible, while drinking. It will slow down the alcohol being absorbed into your bloodstream and help you pace yourself.