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Addiction & Substance Overuse
Alcoholism and Drug Abuse

How to Drink Safely at Your Next Celebration

Whether it’s a friend’s birthday party, wedding reception or a company fete, celebratory events often have one thing in common: alcohol. Even for those who don’t normally have a problem with high-risk drinking, overdoing it at special occasions is almost accepted today as a societal norm—but that doesn’t mean it’s safe.

According to Randy Haveson, M.A., a noted addictions counselor, alcohol educator and author of Party With A Plan, excessive drinking happens when you don’t set yourself specific parameters before your first cocktail. “Make a definitive plan at the beginning of the night that includes who you’re going out with and where you’re heading, then stick to it,” suggests Haveson. “Don’t just tell yourself to ‘be responsible’—it’s too vague a guideline.”

Try following Haveson’s 0-1-2-3 rule for imbibing safely: While “0” drinking doesn’t have to be a continual lifestyle choice, it’s a good option for times you’re taking meds, feeling stressed, or have an interview the next day. “1” is a reminder to have no more than a single drink (5oz of wine or 12oz of beer) per hour; don’t drink more than “2” times per week; limit yourself to “3” cocktails in that 24-hour period. Says Haveson, “Being able to have fun while sticking to a plan gives you a sense of esteem.”

If you notice another guest is making high-risk choices that are putting themselves and others in danger, do what you can to keep her safe. With a friend, you can be direct but supportive—tell her to stop drinking immediately, express your concern for her problem and offer to get her help. If you don’t have a close relationship with the person, suggest that he switches to water; if you’re at bar, call the manager over for support.

Remember that when you’re the hostess, you are legally liable for your guests. Help everyone make good choices at your party and inform them of the night’s three drink rule at the door; if they don’t like it, they have the opportunity to leave. If you notice one of your guests is drunk, stop serving the person and call her a cab to ensure she gets home safely.

To order Party with a Plan, click here.

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