Addiction psychiatrist gives advice on saying no to holiday drinks

People with alcohol addiction can be vulnerable while on vacation. They may be asked to indulge in something they’d rather avoid – a problem that a Northern Virginia psychiatrist has advice for now and in the future.

People with alcohol addiction can be vulnerable while on vacation. They may be asked to indulge in something they’d rather avoid – a problem that a Northern Virginia psychiatrist has advice for now and in the future.

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



“Have a planned response, if someone offers you a drink with alcohol, which you’ll feel comfortable saying,” she said. “If you have to be in a situation where there is alcohol, just prepare something to say that you feel comfortable with to say no to it. “

A few examples that Grawert said his patients have found they can work to politely reject beverage offers:

  • I am taking medication that I cannot drink alcohol against.
  • Although I can go with alcohol, I really, really like “Sprite.” This “alternative” is my favorite drink! It doesn’t necessarily cut down on alcohol and give people a first outing.
  • I don’t really feel good. So I would like to skip for now. It’s a good generic that will stop the pressure from most people.
  • Let me start with “filling your soft drink” is a good time-saving idea.

A second coping strategy is to attend a potentially risky situation with a backup.

“Having what we in the addiction world call an accountability partner, which is just a fancy way of saying a friend or family member with you who is intimate or comfortable with your situation,” she declared. “Someone who isn’t going to drink (like) you, and who’s going to be able to help support you and say, ‘Oh, hey, look, they’re doing blah, blah, blah,’ and that’s going to help you get out of it. this situation.

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

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

He defines a “standard drink” as containing 0.6 ounces of ethanol – the pure alcohol that is found in all alcoholic beverages.

“The Drink Calculator gives consumers a way to see how their drink of choice compares to a standard drink as defined by the US Dietary Guidelines,” said Amanda Berger, vice president of science and health at DISCUS .

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

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

“Today’s beer, wine and spirits come in a range of variable alcohol content containers, which makes the ability to calculate standard drinks even more critical,” said Berger.

Grawert has tips for people who are unhappy with their drinking.

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

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

“You can always continue to change and be successful. So taking it one day at a time, taking it one hour at a time – facing the elephant with bite-sized pieces – this is really the key to success for people who struggle with addiction ” , said Grawert.

She strongly recommends that anyone looking for resources visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website.

“It’s a wonderful place for people who want to get started. You can find treatment centers near you. There is the national suicide prevention line. He has a behavioral health treatment service locator. It really is probably the most comprehensive website in terms of substance abuse treatment resources for people, ”said Grawert.

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

A suicide prevention counseling service for the LGBTQ community, the TrevorLifeline can be reached at 866-488-7386.

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