Alcohol and Family Holidays – Tis’ the Season
By: 2SC Staff
Maybe you are a casual drinker or maybe you don’t drink alcohol at all. One thing is for sure – booze and the holidays in many families seem to go hand in hand. So how do you deal with a drunken uncle, inebriated parent or bigtime “toasted” sibling? Are there things you can do to avoid their ugly sloppiness? How do you deal with drunk family members over the holidays?
To be clear, the word “alcoholic” is a clinical term used to describe someone who has developed a dependence on alcohol. While your family members may not fit this strict definitional construct, there may be several who exhibit behaviors during family gatherings that are uncomfortable to say the least.
Here, we are talking about vulgar comments, inappropriate remarks and full on messy behaviors. If you have children, the situation can become even more complicated – particularly if your mom or dad begins retelling stories from the past that you would rather they not hear.
The holiday season can last a long time, typically hitting the months of November, December and the first week of January. What follows are 5 quick tips for dealing with drunk family members for you to consider during this time period. Hopefully, the information that follows will cut down on your holiday stress.
Are you ready? Let’s jump right in!
1. Place time constraints on family visits
One of the best ways to avoid boozed out family situations is to put a timer on the length of your visit. For example, if you know that the drinking will begin at Thanksgiving from mid-day through most of the evening, it may be best to tell your family in advance that you will be leaving right after the meal. Consider a built-in excuse, like volunteering your time at a local food pantry.
2. Set boundaries with your family
If you will be hosting a holiday event at your home this year, tell your family members in advance that there will be limits to how much alcohol will be available to guests. Some people make the active decision to not include alcohol as part of their family tradition. If you decide to make your home alcohol free during this holiday season, inform family members well in advance of their arrival so there are no misunderstandings.
3. Set up activities
One thing that encourages problematic drinking during the holidays is having too much open time. An effective way of preventing boredom gaps from opening is to have activities in place that are entertaining and fun. Examples indoor/outdoor games, story-telling or creative activities, like arts and crafts. Physical activities help to occupy time in a healthy way. This particular tips works well when small children are around.
4. Guide the conversations
Another effective way to ward off drunken behaviors on the part of family members is to be extra mindful regarding certain conversation topics. Mindfulness means being focused on the moment, including how you are feeling and what is going on around you. Pets are an excellent way to shift topics away from things that are uncomfortable and spur drinking. If you or your family is dealing with grief this holiday season, consider reading some of our tips.
5. Decide to make other plans
Some people reach a place of understanding that the holidays mean alcohol will be part of family events. If this is the case for you, the healthiest option may be to opt out of some or all family gatherings. This is particularly true if you are recovering from alcohol addiction, questioning sources of support and identifying triggers.
The holidays can be a difficult time for many people. Alcohol is often used as a coping mechanism to deal with harms from the past and previous traumas. If you are a person who is trying to work through a social phobia, these kinds of challenges can become amplified.
Bear in mind that the holidays are not just about other people – they are also about you. This means that you can decide what environments are healthy for you and your children. This is particularly true if you are in recovery for addictions.
So take a deep breath and remember that who you choose to spend this holiday season with is completely up to you. And guess what – there’s nothing wrong with that.