Maybe you knew, but maybe you didn’t, that Blackout Wednesday comes around just as faithfully as Black Friday. Blackout Wednesday or “Drinksgiving” is said to be one of the biggest drinking nights of the year, much like New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day, as college-age adults come home for the holidays and family members get together. But have you thought about the unfortunate reality? There will be an uptick in binge drinking, buzzed driving, and drunk driving.
If you plan to drink this Thanksgiving Eve or are a parent, partner, or friend of someone you know will likely be drinking, here are a few things to keep in-mind and talk about:
1. Recognize the dangers of binge drinking.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), one drink is: beer (12 oz), wine (5 oz), and spirits (1.5 oz). Binge drinking is defined as a woman drinking more than 4 drinks in a 2 hours, or a man drinking 5 or more drinks in 2 hours. Men or women who consume this much alcohol in this timeframe will send their BAC (blood alcohol concentration) levels up to 0.08%.
Heavy drinking that leads to intoxication is dangerous; six Americans die from alcohol poisoning every single day. Just because you might have experienced being intoxicated before does not mean you are not at risk of alcohol poisoning. Factors like age, gender, height, weight and tolerance all contribute to alcohol poisoning. As your BAC level rises, if these levels become toxic, you will suffer from alcohol poisoning.
2. Do. Not. Drive.
From 2014 to 2018, 47% of drivers between the ages of 21 and 34 were involved in fatal car crashes on Thanksgiving due to impaired driving. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration even says that more alcohol-related driving deaths occurred on Thanksgiving Eve than on New Year’s Eve.
Make a commitment to not drive home, and make sure your loved ones plan to crash where they drink. If available, use a sober ride program or, better yet, try to stay off the roads.
3. Avoid situations where you will be pressured to drink more than is healthy.
Remember that a BAC of 0.08% is considered intoxication in the United States. If you find yourself in a situation where it is easy to get lost in how many drinks you have had, you might consider taking a step back. This could be a restaurant or bar where you see lots of people drinking, or it could be a competitive drinking game.
One alternative is to host your own Thanksgiving Eve gathering at your house with people you not only know but trust will drink responsibly.
4. Take a trustworthy friend.
A friend who is willing to be a designated driver or offer accountability is definitely a good friend. But, keep in mind, even if he or she is part of your buddy-system safety plan or simply is a reminder that you do not have to keep drinking despite social pressure, they are not responsible for your choices.
5. Be mindful of the signs of alcoholism.
There are a number of signs that your child, partner, friend, or loved one will show if they have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists the symptoms that may point to an alcohol use disorder (AUD) diagnosis.
Some of the common symptoms that someone with alcohol use disorder will show include:
- Drink more or longer than originally intended
- Tried to stop or cut back on drinking but couldn’t
- Experienced a craving or strong urge to drink
- Drink to the point that it interferes with taking care of home or family
- Feel depressed or anxious while drinking
These are just a few of the common signs and symptoms that are associated with alcoholism, you can read the full list of questions that you can ask yourself or your loved one on the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s website, but an official diagnoses would need to come from a doctor.
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