Whilst the festive season is upon us and many enjoy a drink, there is good and bad to having a drink, depending on your perspective. Don’t let alcohol destroy your Christmas! For many it enhances social occasions like Christmas, while for others it destroys it.
I love a definition so what is “excessive drinking”?
Well, let’s look at the definition of excessive first.
more than is necessary, normal, or desirable; immoderate.
In the context of drinking alcohol, many can drink more than maybe they intend. They get caught up in the celebrations at Christmas and before they know it, they’re saying and doing things they wouldn’t normally. Sometimes, that has a negative impact on those around them. There has been some recent research which talks about the impact of a parents drinking on children, one in three experience a negative impact. You can read more here.
Jekyll and Hyde Effect
It’s fairly well known that when someone is a dependant drinker, they can have a Jekyll and Hyde character. They’re one person on the drink and another when they’re not. For families it’s hard to adjust to the transformation that is often seen. This massive change in a person can cause huge conflicts within a family, especially at Christmas when the alcohol is flowing.
Alcohol affects people in all sorts of ways, it can make them fun, confident, loud, aggressive, vulnerable and more. Always dependent on the person and situation. So whatever situation you find yourself in this Christmas, I’ll be sharing some practical suggestions to help keep you calm and safe so you can have a great Christmas.
Impact of drinking too much
Whether someone is dependant or not, there is usually an impact on you. This varies depending on how bad it is, but I’ve listed below some that you may relate to and be apprehensive about this festive season. Remember there is support for you, so don’t let alcohol destroy your Christmas this year.
Aggression from the drinker
Embarrassed of their behaviour
Worrying about what they will do
Dealing with accidents and defusing arguments
Supporting them if they get emotionally unstable
Being affected financially
Feeling out of control and not knowing what the “best” thing to do is
Coping with the blame that drinkers put your way
Minimising the damage
If you’re living with a dependant drinker, you know that alcohol is their priority. That they need this to survive, they are physically addicted to alcohol. At this stage it’s not a choice, many families and others believe it is but it isn’t. So with this knowledge, expecting them not to drink is unrealistic.
With that in mind, you have choices available to you. Depending on your personality and ability to manage your emotions and feelings, you can plan and consider what is best for you (and your family).
It may seem drastic, but avoiding being in the company of a dependant drinker maybe what you need to do, to protect yourself. You can’t expect yourself to be OK with it just because of the time of year, this will no doubt be a struggle all through the year.
Many think not having alcohol around is the answer, it isn’t. If someone wants to drink they will, they get creative and they’ll find it. This is true for dependant drinkers.
If you are worried about someone that isn’t dependant and binge drinks or you dislike how they act when around you, then you can chat about your reservations ahead of time.
It’s entirely possible the other person may take offence, but it depends how you approach it. Showing concern and expressing your own feelings rather than saying how they make you feel is probably my suggested route. We all know using “I” statements keeps it about you and not them.
A different way to think about how someone’s drinking affects you, and your experience of Christmas is that they’re quite happy with their decisions. You are the one that is struggling or unhappy. So then my recommendation is to think about what YOU need to do to be happy and feel comfortable.
Top tips for managing worries around alcohol this Christmas
Here are my tips for helping you have an enjoyable Christmas and remember, don’t let alcohol destroy your Christmas.
Start thinking about exactly what causes you concern/upset (or whatever it is for you)
When you know what bothers you, get clear on how it makes you feel (once you know that, e.g. unsafe you can put things in place). It could be the influence of certain people, places, things.
Consider buying lower alcohol drinks or non-alcoholic drinks altogether (here are some non-alcoholic recipes)
Look at what support you need should things get out of hand, friends, family, online support, anonymous support – you can click here for my list of local and UK wide support
Doing something outside away from alcohol can be helpful, going for walks, doing activities to keep the festivities about something other than alcohol
Understand that the drinking isn’t about you, what they say when they’re drunk shouldn’t be taken seriously. Remember this.
Put boundaries in place, let the drinker know what is and isn’t acceptable, and stick to it. Read more about boundaries here.
Avoid nagging, moaning and controlling someone that drinks (you need to have plans like I’ve suggested to avoid this because it doesn’t work, and only makes you feel out of control and frustrated)
Know that you can’t have a useful conversation with someone that’s drunk, save it until the next day
Prepare some responses for situations you forsee happening, that will keep you safe and comfortable
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If you’d like to chat then do get in touch, I’m happy to gift you some time. Click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (07732) 403305.
Remember you aren’t alone and you can always join my Change Your Mind Facebook group, where other families of alcoholics support each other with challenges they experience from the past or present. You may have lived with an alcoholic in your past, but it’s still impacting you in the present.
I also run a podcast with my sister, click here to find out more.