Alcohol Management over Christmas

Kate Macklin – Provisional Psychologist

In the lead up to Christmas, many Australians are attending festive events to celebrate the end of the working year with colleagues, sharing joy with family and friends, and hopefully finding some time to relax. From Christmas to New Years, we enjoy the holiday period treating ourselves with great food and company, sitting by the pool drinking a cold beer or making festive cocktails with friends to enjoy in the Australian summer.

With all the festivities and celebrations, it can be easy to overlook the negatives of consuming alcohol and not consider the consequences of excessive/binge drinking. Short-term effects such as embarrassment, physical injury or accidents, or long-term outcomes such poor physical and mental health can occur due to not mindfully drinking. But a recent survey has found that 1 in 10 Australians hope to drink more mindfully over the Christmas break. So, what can we do over the Christmas and New Year’s period to still enjoy a drink or two, but avoid the risks and effects of consuming too much?

  • Understand how much you’re having and how much you should have.
    • A standard drink is a bottle or can of mid-strength beer, 100mL of wine, or a 30mL shot of spirits.
    • The Australian Guidelines recommend that individuals should only consume up to four standard drinks in a day to avoid the short- and long-term effects of alcohol. Some drinks contain more than one standard drink, so setting yourself a limit and letting others know is a good way to keep track.
  • Ensure to eat whilst you’re drinking.
    • On an empty stomach, alcohol enters your bloodstream quicker, leading to effects being felt earlier. To avoid this, ensure you eat before and whilst drinking (this shouldn’t be too difficult at Christmas lunch!). 
  • Hydration
    • Our body can only effectively process one standard drink an hour, so drinking water or non-alcoholic alternatives can help us keep hydrated and slow down our alcohol intake.
  • Don’t drink and drive
    • When it comes to driving, there is no safe level of alcohol. 
    • It’s a great idea to plan how you and others will get home safely before you go to your events. 
    • Walking home if it’s within a good distance, organising an Uber ahead of time, catching public transport, are all great options to ensure you don’t get behind the wheel and put others at risk on the roads these holidays.
  • Just say ‘no’
    • You can say ‘no’. There is no shame in turning down a drink at Christmas and New Year’s, especially with some great non-alcoholic alternatives. 

Look after yourself and look out for others these holidays. The Christmas period is a time of joy, celebration and spending time with loved ones, and being mindful of safe drinking behaviour can help ensure this season is memorable for all the right reasons.


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