We all want to celebrate during the holidays. Do you enjoy a drink now and then? Many of us do, often when spending time with friends and family. People are more likely to drink past their limits during this season than at any other time of year.

Alcohol’s effects begin quickly.

At first, alcohol makes you feel upbeat and excited. Soon the alcohol begins to affect your judgment, awareness, and ability to make good decisions. All of these skills are very important while you are driving. As you keep drinking more alcohol, your behavior may become harder to control, and you may become more aggressive. Next your speech may become slurred and it will become harder to keep your balance. Then you will begin to feel sleepy and in some cases pass out. It can cause black outs where you may not remember what happened.

Even when you stop drinking, you will still feel the effects.

It is not easy to know how long the alcohol’s effects will last. You may believe you have sobered up enough to drive. Alcohol can affect the brain and body long after your last sip. Alcohol can still be in your stomach and can enter your bloodstream, affecting your judgment and abilities, for many hours.

Plan ahead before celebrating.

If you are hosting a holiday get-together, here are some tips to keep in mind:

* Have a variety of non-alcoholic drinks available—water, juice, sparkling sodas, coffee, tea, etc. Non-alcoholic drinks help keep you hydrated and lessen the peak alcohol level in your blood.

* Have a variety of healthy snacks available. Food slows down alcohol absorption and can reduce the peak alcohol level in blood. It also helps keep your stomach and digestive issues from the alcohol.

* Help your guests get home safely. Have phone numbers for taxis or other ways to get home, or have designated drivers available. Anyone who will be driving should not drink any alcohol.

* Understand underage drinking laws and set a good example.

Here are some common misconceptions about drinking and driving:

* You can drive as long as your speech is not slurred or showing other signs of intoxication. Your coordination is affected long before your body shows signs of intoxication. Your reaction time is also slowed. You also will feel drowsier after drinking, and risk falling asleep while driving.

* Drinking coffee or caffeine will sober you up. Caffeine may help to keep you more awake, but cannot help your coordination or decision-making. Also, once the caffeine wears off, you will feel the post-caffeine drowsiness. Only giving your body time to break down alcohol before it returns to normal will help.

For more information on celebrating your holidays safely, and tips for cutting back on alcohol, contact Four Corners Health Department at (877) 337-3573 or info@fourcorners.ne.gov. You can also find more tips and information about Rethinking Drinking at https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/.

Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: The Truth About Holiday Spirits How to Celebrate Safely This Season.

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