Addiction psychiatrist gives tips on how to say no to vacation drinks

People suffering from alcohol addiction may be at risk during the vacation. You may be invited to indulge yourself with something you would rather avoid – a problem a Northern Virginia psychiatrist has tips for now and in the future.

People suffering from alcohol addiction may be at risk during the vacation. You may be invited to indulge yourself with something you would rather avoid – a problem a Northern Virginia psychiatrist has tips for now and in the future.

“The ideal situation is to have no alcohol at all in the picture at holiday parties and family gatherings. Sometimes that’s not possible, “said Dr. Lauren Grawert, addiction psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente in Falls Church, Virginia.

“Have a pre-planned reaction if someone offers you a drink with alcohol that you will be happy to say,” she said. “If you have to be in a situation where there is alcohol, just have something ready that tells you you are comfortable to refuse.”

Some examples Grawert said her patients have found they can politely decline drink offers:

  • I am taking a drug that does not allow me to drink alcohol.
  • Although I could drink alcohol, I really love Sprite very much. This ‘state-an-alternative’ is my favorite drink! This isn’t necessarily a drop in alcohol and gives people a first exit point.
  • I just don’t feel really great. So I want to pass for the time being. This is a good generic that will stop the pressure on most people.
  • Let me start with “fill-in-your-non-alcoholic-drink”.

A second coping strategy is to face a potentially risky situation with support.

“Having what in the addiction world we call an accountable is just a fancy way of telling a friend or family member with you who is intimate or familiar with your situation,” she said. “Someone who (like) doesn’t drink you and who can help you, support you and say, ‘Oh, hey, look, they’re doing blah, blah, blah’ and it will help you get out of this situation. “

Dr. Lauren Grawert is an addiction psychiatrist with Kaiser Permanente in Falls Church, Virginia. (Courtesy Kaiser Permanente)

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) new website StandardDrinks.org provides a drink calculator function and resources to help people make decisions about alcohol consumption.

It defines a “standard drink” with 0.6 ounces of ethanol – the pure alcohol found in all beverages.

“The beverage calculator gives consumers the ability to see how their preferred beverage compares to a standard beverage based on US nutritional guidelines,” said Amanda Berger, vice president of science and health at DISCUS.

These guidelines state that drinking in moderation means limiting consumption to 2 drinks or less per day for men or 1 drink or less per day for women on days when alcohol is consumed.

Examples of “standard beverage equivalents” are 1.5 ounces of 80 percent distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol by volume) [ABV]), 5 ounces of wine (12% vol.), 12 ounces of beer (5% vol.), Or 12 ounces of a ready-to-drink (RTD) canned beverage (5% vol.).

“Today’s beer, wine and spirits products are offered in a number of containers with different alcohol contents, which makes the calculation of standard drinks even more important,” said Berger.

Grawert has advice for people who are dissatisfied with their alcohol consumption.

“What can be daunting for many people trying to make a difference with alcohol is the idea of ​​taking alcohol out of their lives forever; it can be really overwhelming, ”she said.

Your biggest piece of advice, which applies to anything someone tries to change, is to take it one day at a time. And if that’s overwhelming, take it an hour at a time. And if you relapse, don’t give up.

“You can still continue your change and be very successful. So, taking it one day at a time, taking it one hour at a time – taking on the elephant with bite-sized pieces – that’s really the key to success for people struggling with addiction, “said Grawert.

She strongly encourages anyone looking for resources to consult the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service website.

“It’s a wonderful place for people who want to start. You can find treatment facilities in your area. It has the National Suicide Prevention Line. It has a locator for Behavioral Health Treatment Services. It really is probably the most thorough website in terms of human addiction treatment resources, ”Grawert said.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK) provides free and confidential support 24/7. For crisis assistance in Spanish, call 888-628-9454.

TrevorLifeline is a suicide prevention counseling service for the LGBTQ community at 866-488-7386.

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