For many, Christmas is a focal point during the festive season and so are the parties, family gatherings and work functions that take place. Although it is a great time to celebrate, the amount of food, shopping and alcohol use can be excessive. Indeed, this is a good time to become aware of the drinking culture we have in Malta and how easily accessible alcohol is for most of us.
The way alcohol is viewed as a society makes it challenging at times to control the drinking, especially while socialising. Getting drunk can easily become an acceptable norm. This can happen due to peer pressure and due to its wide availability. Also related to culture, family traditions during Christmas often involve reuniting families together for lunch.
This might sound obvious but being with family members whom you do not meet often – and whom you do not necessarily like – can easily create family tensions. The shift between choosing to be with family members we interact well with to suddenly feeling obliged to be under the same roof and at the same table, can brew up a storm.
One must also keep in mind the expectations the festive season brings about, such as it being a time to relax and be joyful, albeit not always the case. Although conflict within families is a normal occurrence and there are ways to manage it, alcohol can easily become a coping mechanism during such a season, which can lead to further consequences.
Below are some recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) in terms of drinking alcohol. These refer to a ‘safe’ or ‘low-risk’ drinking level for adults, which involves little health risk for most people. Although people vary from one another, an important point is ‘knowing your limits’. The WHO recommends that:
- Women do not exceed more than 2 drinks a day on average
- Men do not exceed more than 3 drinks a day on average
- Adults do not exceed 4 drinks on any one occasion
- Zero alcohol consumption when driving, pregnant, and in certain work gatherings
Indeed, adults who consistently exceed the recommended alcohol levels, have increased health risks. Below are some tips to avoid becoming drunk at Christmas and further below are tips for the host to reduce the chances of the guests becoming drunk.
Keeping your drinking in check
Keep count of the drinks consumed by pouring your own
Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks
Avoid drinking on an empty stomach
Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated
Avoid combining alcohol and energy drinks
Drink slowly and try drinks with lower alcohol %
Keeping your guests in check
Avoid having alcohol as the focus of the gathering by planning alcohol-free activities
Provide food from start to finish of the gathering
Provide water and other non-alcoholic drinks at the table
Avoid topping guests’ drinks so they can keep count of their drinking
Let family/friends know they can sleep over if they need to
Arrange lifts and carpooling in advance for people to get home safely
When possible, do not allow guests to get a ride home with a driver who has been drinking.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Charlot Cauchi is a Trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist currently reading for a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy with Gestalt Psychotherapy Training Institute Malta (GPTIM) and working at Willingness as a Trainee Psychotherapist. He has experience with adult clients with mental health difficulties, anxiety, depression, loss, trauma, stress and relational issues.
Zhao, J & Stockwell, T. 2013, Australian relative-risk estimates. University of Victoria Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia for the WA Drug and Alcohol Office.Drinkaware Malta, alcohol help, alcohol education, alcohol support. n.d., Drinkaware Malta. Retrieved 19 October 2021, from https://www.drinkawaremalta.com/how-to-handle-alcohol/.