Drinking during Christmas: Six ways to party smarter this silly season

Dec 13, 2021

'Tis the season for Santa, Summer, and lots of socialising! For those who choose to drink during Christmas, or indulge in an illicit substance, these six strategies can help you do it smarter. 

Work out what your goal is …

Do you want a hangover-free Summer or to avoid your traditional cocaine-fuelled catch-up with friends on Boxing Day? Whether you choose to reduce the amount you are drinking during December, control the way to consume your drugs, or completely quit, clearly setting goals is a key component of measuring success. The choice you make will invariably bring a change to your lifestyle. So being honest with yourself reduces the risk of feeling like a failure should you continue to engage in certain behaviours. 

… and what’s stopping you from reaching it 

Once you have established your goal, it’s important to look at previous scenarios to understand what might get in the way of you achieving it. Does spending time with Uncle Matt turn everything upside down … Or does your off-switch stop working when you’ve had one too many?

Identifying these obstacles allows you to develop an action plan – that is not overwhelming! – to help you honour your intentions. 

Be brave with boundaries 

Right. It’s time to pull up your reality pants and set some boundaries that will help you stick to the plan. 

For example, if you know that by the 4th drink all bets are off, then this means that three drinks should be your limit. Then, when you have worked out your limit, our advice to is reduce it by one and have that as your maximum number of drinks containing alcohol on any given day/event. (Using the above example that would be a total of two standard drinks as your personal limit)  

Or, if you know that nothing good ever truly happens after 2am, then set yourself a limit on when you plan to leave. At The TARA Clinic, we recommend leaving an hour before you know things tend to get messy to save you feeling pushed into a corner.

Having an emergency escape plan is also helpful in these instances. Don’t be embarrassed to say: “Hey guys, I forgot to tell you that I have this thing I need to be at in an hour across town. I’m heading off so we can catch up next week!” Then you never need to worry about feeling caught off guard.

Similarly, particular people can derail our best intentions, so be selective with who you spend time with – and when! For example, if Christmas Eve at the pub with Uncle Matt means Christmas morning is a nightmare, then catch up with him on Boxing Day for brunch or a hike. That way you can spend quality time with him while also controlling the environment to help you achieve the outcome you are after.

Say yes to saying no! 

While the Silly Season is synonymous with celebrations you don’t have to say yes to every single social gathering. In fact, just because society dictates that Christmas is a time to be with friends and family, it doesn't mean you have to spend time with people who aren’t healthy for you. 

If your boss tends to get loose around the holidays, you are allowed to be conveniently busy that day. Or, if family dinners result in carnage, then organise a 90-minute picnic lunch and have something planned straight after so you can leave.

Treat Yo S(elf!) 

Booze and bags of blow do not possess magical properties that provide festive fun! So, it’s time to find some equally enjoyable alternatives. Take a moment to consider what you would actually like to enjoy this Christmas and schedule some time with whoever you would like to experience that with.

Easy does it

Finally, go gentle on yourself and give yourself a break.

If this is the first Christmas you are considering doing something different, then it is highly likely that things won’t work out completely to plan 100% of the time. You are not a failure or weak if this happens, you are simply human! The TARA Clinic can help you to create a plan and support you through the implementation of it, though it really all comes down to practice and repetition! Consider this… how long have you been practicing Christmas this way? Probably a good few years, right? So now you are practicing something different for a few weeks compared to a few years! Allow that to put things into perspective.

Need a little more support? Try these five suggestions below  

  1. Start low and go slow: A great strategy is to never have two alcoholic drinks in a row. If you alternate between alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks, then you are giving your brain time to catch up with the experience and give you accurate feedback on what you actually want.
  2. Don’t mix drugs and/ or alcohol: It is definitely riskier when we combine things, especially if we are experimenting with something new. Also, if it has been a while since you last used or drank, then it is highly likely that your tolerance has reduced. That means that the potential for an accidental overdose, or other negative outcomes, is much higher.
  3. Don’t share drug-taking equipment: If you are using a needle to inject your drugs, be sure to use sterile equipment. Also, it is best not to re-use your own needle twice (even if you have flushed it). Vein health can be severely impacted by using a needle twice. For more information, NSW Health’s Needle and Syringe Program is a great resource and provides often free drug and sex-related paraphernalia and safety packs. 
  4. Don’t do drugs/drink alone: At The TARA Clinic, our advice is to always have at least one safe and sober adult with you at all times. That way if the cocaine you are using is in fact laced with Fentanyl (opioids), which is occurring a lot in Sydney at the moment, and you drop quickly (overdose from opioids can actually happen in a matter of seconds) at least you have someone that can act swiftly and call an ambulance or perform CPR.
  5. Educate yourself: The Alcohol & Drug Foundation (ADF) website is full of information about substances you might be considering using over the holidays