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The Holidays, Binge Drinking and Recovery

Health Care 09 Dec, 2022 Follow News

The Holidays, Binge Drinking and Recovery

Drinking during the holidays has become so socially acceptable that one would say it is expected. In fact, long before the cultural phenomenon of “wine moms” took hold, publications like Forbes magazine were publishing articles entitled “Ten Reasons to Drink During the Holidays” {2005).

Most people do not understand that the term “binge drinking” has a specific definition. Many assume that a person must drink to the point of making themselves ill to be considered a binge drinker, but that is not in fact the case.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in the United States defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (ВАС) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks and women consume 4 or more drinks in about two (2) hours.

The social acceptability, and to some degree expectation, around drinking during the holidays makes it a prime time for over-indulgence.

The Cayman Islands 2021 Compendium of Statistics shows an increase between the number of traffic tickets issues by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) for driving under the influence (DUt) in 2020 (228 tickets) and 2021 (312 tickets).

As of 30 November 2022, the RCIPS reports 202 arrests made for DUI this year alone, of which 80 incidents (approximately 40%) were detected due to officers responding to a report of a motor vehicle accident.

A 2015 report released by Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS) about the drinking behaviour of over 450,000 DUI offenders who were monitored 24/7 for alcohol consumption in the United States individuated that “drinking violations for the monitored group jumped an average of 33 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, compared to the average violation rate the rest of the year”.

Alcohol’s impact on our brain chemistry means that it can directly impact our mental health. The brain relies on a delicate balance of chemicals and processes, and given that alcohol is a depressant it can disrupt that balance.

Drinking heavily is associated with symptoms of depression, though it is difficult to separate cause and effect.

Thus the holiday season is one that may prove particularly challenging to persons who are in recovery as they may be particularly vulnerable to social pressures around alcohol consumption.

Persons in recovery are encouraged to focus on their relationships and connections with others as the goal of holiday gatherings, prioritising quality time over the consumption of alcohol.

Caribbean Haven Residential Centre (CHRC) notes that there is a slight drop-off in the number of admissions right before Christmas, with an increase in the number of admissions in January.

CHRC notes that persons who enter treatment during the holidays are often serious about wanting to become sober and improve their lives. CHRC plans events around the holiday season to ensure that residents are able to celebrate with family on special days.

For more information contact Caribbean Haven Residential Centre on 947-9992.

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