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By Lena Newlin, UW AWARE program coordinator
The holiday season is a time to celebrate with friends, family and coworkers. While having alcohol at parties can enhance the holiday experience, it also can place you and others at risk if drinking gets out of hand.
Whether hosting or attending a party, here are a few tips that can help you celebrate safely throughout the holiday season and all year. Party tips are courtesy of the University of Wyoming Alcohol Wellness Alternatives, Research and Education (AWARE) Program (www.uwyo.edu/aware and the United States Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration's National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//PHD833/PHD833.pdf).
Tips for party givers:
-- Avoid making alcohol the main focus of social events. Entertain guests with music, dancing, games, food and lively conversation.
-- One in three adults actually prefers a non-alcoholic beverage. Make sure to offer plenty of nonalcoholic choices such as sparkling water, fancy juice drinks, soda and bottled drinking water. The above Web site contains numerous recipes for non-alcoholic beverages.
-- Provide guests with nutritious and appealing foods to slow the effects of alcohol. High protein and carbohydrate foods such as cheese and meats are especially good. These foods stay in the stomach longer, slowing the rate at which the body absorbs alcohol. Avoid salty foods, which encourage people to drink more.
-- If you prepare an alcoholic punch, use a non-carbonated base such as fruit juice. Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream faster with a carbonated base.
-- Do not let guests mix their own drinks. Choose a reliable bartender, who abstains from alcohol while working, measures the correct amount of liquor into drinks and keeps track of the number of drinks that guests consume.
-- Instruct the bartender not to serve anyone who appears to be impaired.
-- Do not provide alcohol to minors. Check the ID of anyone who appears to be under the age of 30 (no ID, no alcohol).
-- Stop serving drinks at least one hour before the end of the event. Instead, serve coffee, non-alcoholic beverages and desserts at that time.
-- Recruit people ahead of time who will not be drinking to help ensure that everyone has a safe ride home.
Tips for party goers:
-- Do not feel like you have to drink alcohol. Drink an alcohol look-alike instead.
-- Volunteer to be the designated sober driver.
-- If you do drink, switch between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
-- Eat before or during drinking.
-- In advance, determine not to exceed a set number of drinks.
-- Keep track of how many drinks you have had.
-- Have a friend let you know when you have had enough.
-- Pace your drinks to one drink or less per hour.
-- Avoid drinking games.
-- Refuse a ride from someone who has been drinking.
When the party's over:
-- Should any of your guests be unable to drive due to alcohol impairment, be sure to provide several alternatives, including finding a designated sober driver to give them a ride, or offer to let them spend the night.
-- If the guest insists on driving despite obvious intoxication, take the keys, ask for help from other guests, or temporarily disable the car. If all else fails, say you will call the police and do so.
The University of Wyoming works to promote the safe, legal and responsible use of alcohol through the AWARE program. Housed within the University Counseling Center, AWARE promotes personal wellness through guidance, education, research and collaboration focused on healthy choices about the use of alcohol and other drugs.
For more information, contact Newlin at (307) 766-2187 or e-mail email@example.com.