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Don’t let alcohol ruin your holidays, or your life


Shawn Bowker, R.N., C.E.N., C.F.R.N.

You have finished your holiday shopping and have opened most the gifts; you’re dressed up and headed to a much-anticipated holiday party, looking forward to an evening of good company and holiday food and drink. Because you are driving, you won’t be drinking alcohol tonight. Upon arrival, your host greets you and invites you to share in some holiday “cheer” and food. Even though you drove to the party and you plan on driving home, you think “I can have just one.” A little later, you try a cup of “holiday punch” which gives you a slight buzz. As the evening comes to a close you feel just fine and say to yourself, “I am okay to drive home, besides I had some food too, that will help keep me sober and absorb the alcohol.”

It seems as though alcohol is everywhere during the holiday season and for some, it can be difficult to not drink during this time. It is part of the many of the festivities we attend. However, alcohol is involved in nearly 40 percent of traffic fatalities; and over the holidays, that number jumps up to 56 percent. These statistics do not include the number of alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes that result in serious and life-threatening injuries, which increase over the holiday season as well. 

To give you an idea of the scale of the problem – in nine years of war in two countries, 6,341 U.S. citizens have been killed. In just one year, in this country alone, 10,833 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes, accounting for one third of all traffic-related deaths.  

Alcohol initially affects one’s judgment, which can lead a person to think they can perform high-risk activities after a drink. Alcohol adversely affects coordination, hearing and vision. It causes double vision, decreases peripheral vision and slows recovery time from glare. Therefore, any alcohol in a person’s system impairs their ability to drive safely. This is why the law is strictly written and enforced.

What should a person do to avoid drinking and driving this holiday season? 

  • If alcoholic beverages are consumed, don’t drive.
  • Designate a driver and make sure that person remains completely sober.
  • Take a taxi cab to and from a party where alcohol is being served. 
  • Get a ride with someone who doesn’t drink.
  • Find a non-alcoholic “mocktail” beverage to enjoy.  
  • Wrap a $20 bill around your driver’s license and put it back in your wallet and use it if you have been drinking and need a ride home. If you host a party where alcohol will be served, offer guests taxi rides to and from the party. 

Mocktails
Help keep your holidays merry and bright by serving and/or drinking “mocktails” at get-togethers. These drinks can be as tasty and fun as alcoholic drinks, but without the risks involved in drinking alcohol. Below are some mocktails that can be made at home or at any bar or holiday event:

  • Arnold Palmer – iced tea and lemonade.
  • Faisal Ali –orange juice, ginger ale, cranberry juice. 
  • Cinderella – 2 oz. club soda, 1 dash grenadine, 1 oz. each lemon juice, orange juice, pineapple juice. 
  • Clayton – ice, 1 nip Claytons, 1/2 glass lemonade, 1/2 glass ginger ale. 
  • Egg cream – chocolate syrup, milk, seltzer. 
  • End Wrench – orange juice, tonic water. 
  • Freddie Bartholomew – ginger ale, sweetened lime juice, garnish with a slice of lime. 
  • Jefferson – iced tea, orange juice. 
  • Jim Howard – lemon lime soda, orange juice. 
  • Muddy Water – cola, orange juice. 
  • Pomme Noir – cola, apple juice.
  • Roy Rogers – cola, grenadine syrup, garnish with a maraschino cherry. 
  • Rebecca – pineapple juice, cranberry juice, soda water. 
  • Patrick Sweeney – red bull, cranberry juice, cola, orange Gatorade. 
  • Rock Shandy – soda water, lemonade, dash of Angostura bitters.
  • Safe Sex on the Beach – cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, peach nectar. 
  • Saint Clement's – orange juice, lemon-flavored drink.
  • Shirley Temple – ginger ale, grenadine syrup.

Don’t let alcohol ruin your holidays…or your life. If you drink, don’t drive. Stay safe and make sure your holidays are truly happy.

Shawn Bowker, R.N., C.E.N., C.F.R.N., is the injury prevention coordinator in FMC’s Trauma Services and former flight nurse with Guardian Air. Is there a health topic you’d like to know more about? Please write to Mountain Medicine, c/o FMC Public Relations, 1200 N. Beaver St., Flagstaff, AZ 86001, or visit FlagstaffMedicalCenter.com.



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