Be wary with alcohol at office parties

Posted 16 December 2013 at 12:00 am

By Nola Goodrich-Kresse, Public Health Educator for the Orleans County Health Department

For some folks, the holidays bring thoughts of office parties, family gatherings and other social gatherings. This may be a time of renewing friendships, relaxing with family, new friends or enjoying down time with co-workers.

The problem generally comes when alcohol is added to the mix. Many people don’t think about the consequences of drinking alcohol until it is too late.

Studies have shown that holiday drinking tends to fuel bad behavior. Most people link alcohol and parties with drunk driving only, but mixing alcohol with various social activities has also been known to increase inappropriate text messages, sexual antics and other inappropriate behaviors that have major repercussions affecting both family and work relationships.

Any party where alcohol is served freely not only increases the risk of injury from falls, car crashes, assaults, etc., but has also been shown to increase overuse of alcohol.

Many folks tend to drink more if they are not paying for the beverages. Also depending on who is preparing the drinks, some drinks are more than the recommended serving size of 1 ½ ounces of hard (distilled) liquor, 5 ounces of wine and 12 ounces of beer. Many of the glasses people use are larger than the recommended serving size so the person is getting more alcohol than they think.

Most parties have finger foods available to munch on, but it may not be enough to offset the amount and speed of alcohol being drunk. People are also usually visiting and aren’t paying attention to how much they are drinking or do not want to hurt someone’s feelings by refusing a drink until it is too late.

The only way to get the alcohol out of the bloodstream is through time, about one hour per drink serving. That means no alcohol for at least one hour after you finish the last drink before having another drink.

Another myth about staying sober is having a cup of coffee before leaving the party. If you have had even a couple of drinks (which may be double depending on the measurement of the alcohol) and are getting ready to leave and think a cup or two of coffee will clear your head, you are wrong. It may make you more awake. However, the effects of alcohol are still slowing your reaction time and clouding your judgment.

If you are planning on hosting a party, consider not serving alcohol. If that doesn’t work for you, designate one or two people to tend bar and make sure they know how to measure the correct amounts.

Use smaller glasses and make arrangements for guests to get home safely. Keep an eye on folks and cut them off early if you think they have had too much to drink. Have plenty of food for your guests to enjoy and in turn it may slow down the number of drinks they have. Do not leave anyone alone who has passed out from drinking alcohol – get them to a hospital.

Jobs and relationships have been lost due to drinking. Think before you drink and NEVER drink and drive!