A new year is an opportunity to start fresh. That’s something to celebrate, whether it’s with a champagne toast among friends or a glass of wine at home with a loved one. While a drink can give us a nice buzz to ring in the new year, there are a few things about alcohol we should keep in mind as we continue to celebrate the dawning of 2019.
Alcohol is a little bit deceptive in that it is a depressant to the central nervous system, but it appears otherwise as a stimulant because it mutes a lot of our inhibitions. This is part of what makes us feel carefree and confident when under the influence. The effects of alcohol on the brain really depend on what parts of the brain have been affected.
How alcohol affects a person also depends on how much and how often they drink, at what age they first started drinking and how long since, family history of alcoholism, and general health status. However, taking things too far in the form of binge drinking isn’t good for anyone. For men, it’s defined as consuming five or more drinks in two hours; for women, binge drinking is four or more drinks. Low-risk drinking for women is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as “no more than three drinks on any single day and no more than seven drinks per week.” For men, the NIAAA defines it as “no more than four drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week.”
According to research, women are actually more susceptible than men to the health consequences of alcohol use, especially when consumed in excess. For example (NIAAA), women who deal with alcoholism develop conditions like cirrhosis, damage to the heart muscle, and nerve damage after fewer years of heavy drinking than alcoholic men.
If you struggle with alcoholism, this time of year may be especially difficult for you. The best course of action would be to simply avoid parties at bars and other places where alcohol will be readily served. There are also alcohol-free cocktails you can make with fancy juices and sparkling water if you’re at a friend’s house or more low-key party where alcoholic beverages are being consumed.
Make sure your closest friends and family who know about your struggle are able to support you, but when you’re around those who don’t know or understand the seriousness, don’t be afraid to be assertive. Let them know that, “No, I am not drinking tonight,” and stand firm on that regardless of their nonchalant mentality. Perhaps bring a friend who would also like to stay sober as a nice support system throughout the evening.
It is appropriate to celebrate good times and new beginnings with a glass or two of something. Just be aware that an excessive consumption can affect you and others in different ways. This awareness can help us truly enjoy the holidays and new year a lot healthier. This way, we will actually remember the good times the next morning. So, keep that in mind as you’re poppin bottles throughout January.