Holidays are considered a time for celebration, and societal expectations in the United States typically include alcohol as part of celebration. However, drinking as celebration can often turn dangerous, with many fights, falls, or traffic accidents occurring around the holidays. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 40% of traffic fatalities during the holidays involve a driver who is impaired by alcohol. Furthermore, there is a 155% increase in driving violations for driving under the influence (DUIs) offenders during New Years. If drinking during the holidays is so dangerous, why do people do it?
- People often feel pressured to. A 2015 study found that 22% of individuals who attended workplace holiday parties have felt pressured to drink either to fit in, because their boss encouraged them, or to feel more relaxed.
- There’s music, and music often involves drinking, dancing, and games. Think about any celebration you’ve attended – music often involves people having fun, which often involves alcohol. Most people feel tempted to drink when music is playing to help them relax around others and to get more into a positive, energetic mood.
- People want to relieve stress. The American Psychological Association found that nearly half of all women in the U.S. feel stressed during the holidays; 41% of women use food and 28% use alcohol. Many people believe alcohol with help numb the effects of stress they are experiencing, but do not realize that the effects of alcohol stay long after drinking has ceased.
- People feel they can afford to with their New Year’s goals they plan to embark on. With New Year’s approaching, many people state that since they are starting the year off right, they can get their last “hoorah” in during the holidays. The truth, however, is that many people do not fulfill their New Year’s goals and they still reap the repercussions of excessive drinking.
Despite widespread belief, drinking is not necessary to have fun during the holidays. In fact, sobriety can help ease tension and stress because you will be more clear-headed and able to deal with unwanted emotions and situations more appropriately. Make the decision to stay sober this holiday season. Be present for yourself and those you love. That’s the meaning of holiday spirit.
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