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Cheer without beers? Tips for drinking less this festive season

As we count down to Christmas and our calendars are filled with get togethers, BBQs, and other festive season events, staying sober can start to seem as unlikely as Santa bringing us a unicorn. This is especially true if you are currently trying to reduce your alcohol consumption or have had a previous dependency on alcohol.

The pressure to be “jolly” alongside our family and friends as well as the increased advertising and marketing geared towards increasing our alcohol consumption over the Christmas can often weaken our resolve to stay sober or to go without alcohol.

Here are some of our top tips for you to manage your alcohol consumption and have a healthy and safe Christmas season. You’ll see that planning ahead is a key part of effectively managing your alcohol use.

1. Recognise that Christmas may a be stressful, busy and challenging time. If this is true for you, make sure you plan ahead to build some stress-free time or relaxing activities into your schedule.

2. Schedule a few functions that don’t involve alcohol. This is a great way of modelling to children and adolescents that we can have fun without alcohol and that it does not have to be a part of every social occasion.

3. Once again .... Plan, Plan, Plan!

4. For some of us, as Christmas gets closer we can find ourselves attending 3-5 events in one week. If you have a few events in one week, plan some alcohol-free days and consider setting a limit on the number of alcoholic drinks you will have at each function.

5. If you’re going out and alcohol will be available, decide before you head out whether you will have alcohol or not. If you decide not to drink alcohol, take along some of your favourite non-alcoholic drinks, maybe volunteer to be the designated driver for the evening and/or go prepared with a reason why you are not drinking eg “I’m driving”.

6. If you decide you will drink alcohol, these tips might be helpful:

• Decide how much alcohol you will consume and don’t drink more than this. • Eat before and while you are drinking • Always pour your own drinks and keep count of how many you’re having • Drink a non-alcoholic “spacer” drink between your alcoholic drinks • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated • Drink slowly and consider low strength alcohol drinks • Remember that a full glass or tumbler is often much more than one standard drink

7. Having an “escape plan” is also useful. Remember, it is always ok to leave a party early if it means managing the urge to drink or if you've reached your set limit and are tempted to keep drinking.

As we come to the end of the year and look towards 2020, it's a good time to reflect on your alcohol use and the role it plays in your life. Give some thought to the following:

• Does one drink always leads to 2,3,4 or more?

• Do you regularly start looking forward to going home and having a few drinks after work?

• Have you realised you can’t go out socially without a few drinks

Did you answer 'Yes' to one or more of the above questions?

If so, alcohol may have become an unhealthy part of your life. If you have any concerns about your alcohol use, you’re welcome to get in touch on 9456 0411 and make an appointment with Heather Lilley Clinical Social Worker who has extensive experience supporting clients to change their alcohol and other drug use.

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