A Toast to Moderate Drinking During Festive Merry Making

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), there are more alcohol-related traffic fatalities during the holiday season than any other time of the year in the United States.

Despite the potential dangers, myths about drinking persist, which—for some—can prove fatal. Scientific studies supported by the NIAAA provide important information that challenges these widespread, yet incorrect, beliefs about how quickly alcohol affects the body and how long the effects of drinking last.

According to the NIAAA, as we more alcohol is consumed, reaction time suffers and behavior becomes poorly controlled and sometimes gets aggressive—leading to fights and other types of violence. Continued drinking causes slurred speech and loss of balance typically associated with being drunk.

At higher levels, alcohol acts as a depressant, which causes the drinker to become sleepy and in some cases pass out. At these levels, alcohol can also cause blackouts—which are periods of amnesia when a person does not remember what happened while he or she was intoxicated.

The intoxicated person actively engages in behaviors like walking and talking, but does not create memories for these or other events that occur during the blackout. At very high levels, drinkers face the danger of life-threatening alcohol poisoning due to the suppression of vital life functions.

The NIAAA provides a couple helpful tips:

  • Pace yourself. Know what constitutes a standard drink and have no more than one per hour—and no more than four drinks for men or three for women per day.
  • Have “drink spacers”—make every other drink a nonalcoholic one.

Make plans to get home safely. Remember that a designated driver is someone who hasn’t had any alcohol, not simply the person in your group who drank the least.

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According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), there are more alcohol-related traffic fatalities during the holiday season than any other time of the year in the United States.

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