How to navigate the 'Bermuda Triangle' of holiday drinking

In Alcoholics Anonymous, we call Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s the “Bermuda triangle” of alcoholism.

That’s because so many problem drinkers start off the holiday season with good intentions, but all too often drown in a sea of family and office parties.

Somehow, alcoholics and non-problem drinkers alike give themselves permission to drink more than usual this time of year, just because it’s the holiday season. Some drink to celebrate and others to drown their sorrows. Either way the ramifications for getting drunk at work, at a family party, or any holiday gathering are severe. It’s amazing how quickly drinking can spiral out of control.

The good news is that the suggestions Alcoholics Anonymous members share with each other at this time of year can work for anyone. Follow them and you will get through the holidays without any alcohol-fueled issues, at work, at home or on the highway.

First, if there’s a holiday party ask yourself whether you really have to go. If you’re not comfortable at family or work gatherings where alcohol flows freely, consider whether your presence is truly necessary. Chances are, if people are drinking that much, they won’t even notice that you aren’t there! So the first thing to do is just simply determine whether you can skip the event entirely.

Next, if you can’t afford to miss a particular gathering, have an exit strategy. This means that you have your Uber or Lyft app good to go, or you have some other means of getting yourself home when the drinking speeds up, the room gets louder and hotter, and you have had enough of the whole scene. In other words, don’t rely on someone else at the party to leave when you want to go. Be able to get out when you have reached your emotional limit.

Next, once you get to the party, go directly to the bar and get yourself a club soda or some other non-alcoholic beverage. If you are holding a drink, people will be far less likely to ask, “Why aren’t you drinking!” The answer to that question, in any event, is none of their business.

If you happen to put the drink down on the table, even for a split second, it’s no longer your drink. Go back to the bar and get yourself a brand new club soda or soft drink. Every alcoholic can tell you stories about drinking “accidentally on purpose“ – you put down the Coke, you pick up a rum and Coke, drink it down, figure, what the heck, and keep drinking.

Finally, take the label off the day. A fine wine or unblended Scotch, with the label removed, is simply alcohol. Thanksgiving, with its label removed, is just another Thursday. This year, another word for Christmas is…Tuesday. And another word for New Year’s Eve is… Monday night.

If you wouldn’t drink, or drink to excess, on a Thursday, Monday, or Tuesday at any other time during the year, why do it during the holiday season? No reason!

In short, if you follow these simple suggestions, you will awaken on January 1 with no hangover, no apologies to make, no legal issues and no regrets.

Here’s to a safe, sober, and sane holiday season!