Top Tips for Safer Drinking this Festive Period
December is often a busy time of meeting up with family, friends and colleagues where it’s easy to find ourselves drinking more than usual. On Mad Friday – one of the busiest party nights of the year – in December 2016, the number of alcohol-related calls to the London Ambulance Service reached 273 in one night alone.
This year the 13th and 20th of December are both expected to be busy nights for celebrations, so Blenheim, part of Humankind are offering tips on drinking safely that apply throughout the whole of the festive season.
- Pace yourself. Try slowing down your drinking, if you’re at a bar try sitting down with your drink and enjoy your drink. Think about what drinks you really look forward to and stick to just drinking that drink, cut out the other drinks that don’t give you pleasure.
- Avoid rounds. Buying rounds means there is often a pressure to keep up with your peers and the quickest drinker. Some people also feel pressured to drink alcoholic drinks every round, it’s OK to ask for water or a soft drink instead!
- Enjoy soft or low-alcohol drinks. Alcohol dehydrates you so try drinking a soft drink or low-alcohol drink; this will also help you control your drinking. Alcohol Change UK have done the hard work for you and tried out lots of low-alcohol and alcohol-free alternatives – click here to read their reviews.
- Eat before and while drinking. Food helps slow the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream, protecting your stomach lining and helping you pace yourself.
- Watch your alcohol units. With drinks being topped up around a table it’s very easy to lose count of how much you’ve had. Don’t be afraid to ask for a soft drink or to ask a bartender how many units are in your drink. The DrinkCoach App has a handy feature where you can track how many units you are drinking. The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend not drinking more than 14 units a week; that’s equivalent to one and a half bottles of wine or six pints of lager. It’s important to bear this in mind, even at Christmas!
- Don’t drink and drive. If you’re going out, even just for one, don’t take the car. The length of time it takes alcohol to leave your body varies from person to person, and depends on how much you drank, over what period of time and the speed your body breaks down alcohol. You could even still be over the limit travelling back from a party the next day. Make sure you have made travel arrangements to get home safely from; you could book a taxi in advance, download a taxi app or stay with a friend nearby.
- It’s OK to say no. It’s absolutely fine to say you don’t want an alcoholic drink. It’s very easy to feel peer pressure when out, but don’t feel afraid to say no to another drink or to leave a drink untouched. In the last Office for National Statistics report on Adult Drinking, from 2017, 1 in 5 adults said they did not drink at all.
If you need help or support with your drinking over the Christmas period and in the New Year, contact your local alcohol treatment service or talk to your GP. You can also book an online coaching session from DrinkCoach to discuss your drinking and receive expert guidance from an alcohol treatment specialist.
If you need more immediate help outside of our service opening hours here are some organisations that may be able to help –
- Drinkline, a free, confidential helpline for people who are concerned about their drinking, or someone else’s. 0300 123 1110. Weekdays 9am–8pm, weekends 11am–4pm
- Drinkchat is a free, online service for anyone who is looking for information or advice about their own, or someone else’s, alcohol use.
- Alcohol Anonymous GB provides confidential 365 days a year to help people who have a drinking problem and want to stop drinking. 0800 9177 650.
- Samaritans are on hand to provide emotional support to anyone in emotional distress or struggling to cope. Freephone number 116 123. Open 24 hours a day every day.
- CALM offers support to men in the UK, of any age, who are feeling down or in crisis. 0800 068 41 41.
- HopelineUK is a confidential support and advice service for young people under the age of 35 who may be having thoughts of suicide. 0800 068 41 41.