For some individuals, the night before Thanksgiving is used to prep recipes and take out the tableware for the holiday that follows the next day. For others, it is known as Thanksgiving Eve, Blackout Wednesday, or Drinksgiving, an extensive young adult party night. Why do so many individuals drink alcohol on Thanksgiving Eve? It’s usually the first time all the college students have been back home since the summertime, and they are anxious to see their friends and engage in heavy binge drinking. For adults, it’s kicking off an extra day off during the workweek, the stress of seeing family the next day, or having nowhere to spend the Thanksgiving holiday. This type of anxiety and stress causes people to use alcohol and drugs to cope.
Binge drinking and heavy drinking pose dangerous risks to everyone, including individuals that aren’t drinking. Thanksgiving Eve has become known as the biggest bar night of the year, creating an increased number of alcohol-related accidents and deaths. Drinking too much alcohol in a short period of time can lead to impairment such as confusion, slurred speech, poor decision-making, and loss of other functions, leading to an alcohol overdose. For example, a standard drink in the United States contains 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol, which equates to :
For women to be classified as binge drinkers, they need to consume four or more alcoholic beverages on a single occasion and five or more for men. Heavy drinkers mean a woman consumes eight or more drinks per week and a man 15 or more per week. According to the Centers for Disease Control, drinking too much alcohol places your health at risk. From 2011 to 2015, approximately 95,000 deaths and 2.8 million years of potential lives were lost due to excessive alcohol consumption.
Always seek medical attention for any individual that has had too much to drink and is exhibiting signs of alcohol poisoning or alcohol overdose. The person may become upset if you call 911, but it’s better to have someone alive and upset than lose them to fear.
How to Respond to an alcohol poisoning or alcohol overdose:
It is essential, whether the individual is conscious or unconscious, to first perform the Bacchus Maneuver. The Bacchus Maneuver is a tool that helps you position someone that has consumed too much alcohol so that they will not choke on their vomit.
When an individual passes out from drinking too much, you can help place them in a safe position so they will not choke on their vomit; if they are unconscious or unable to communicate with you, it’s always best to seek medical attention.
The Bacchus Maneuver Step by Step:
1. Start by raising the arm closest to you above the individual’s head. Prepare to roll their body towards you.
2. As you gently roll them toward you, guard their head against hitting the floor or surrounding area. You should set the head resting in front of the arm, not on top of it.
3. Then tilt the head up to maintain the airway. Tuck their nearest hand under the cheek to help keep their head tilted and raise the face off the floor.
4. Repeatedly check on them and seek medical assistance if necessary.
Another issue with binge drinking and heavy alcohol use is that it increases a person’s risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.
Dangers of Thanksgiving Eve Celebrations:
1. Increased number of intoxicated drivers
2. Risk of DUI Arrest- blood alcohol concentration above 0.08
3. Alcohol Overdose
4. Alcohol Poisoning
5. Binge Drinking Dangers- damage to organs etc
6. Potential Fatality- alcohol-related accidents on or of the road
8. Sexual Assault
9. Domestic Violence
The best way to stay sober on Blackout Wednesday is to practice the following tips:
1. Lookup AA or NA meeting locations and times before you begin your travels.
2. Plan a sober activity like going to the movies instead of the bar.
3. Avoid your triggers.
4. If you can wait to travel until Thanksgiving Day, do so.
5. Call your Sponsor or your Support System.
6. Stay busy.
After maintaining your sobriety the night before Thanksgiving, you are up against Thanksgiving Day. First things first, don’t hide your recovery. By hiding your recovery, you are giving into shame, which should not be the case. Facing recovery by yourself can be lonely and only increase your chance of relapse.
Staying Sober on Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving is a big family holiday, and for some families, the focus of all holidays surrounds alcohol, making it very difficult for someone recently entering recovery. Holidays are usually the most comfortable setting for an alcoholic because they don’t need to hide their drinking as much as they would typically have to since it seems more socially appropriate and acceptable. The key to maintaining sobriety during Thanksgiving is to arrive at the holiday with a sobriety plan.
Holiday Sobriety Plan
1. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or senior home.
2. Bring your non-alcoholic beverage.
3. Attend a meeting before and after the celebration.
4. Call a sober friend or sponsor before and after the meal.
5. Offer to be the designated driver.
6. Have an exit strategy.
7. Help with table set up and clean up during the holiday.
The holidays are stressful, but it’s essential to see the silver linings of every situation. By avoiding triggers, planning, and asking for the help you need, you can fully enjoy both your sobriety and the holiday season. If you feel about to relapse, reach out to your sponsor or someone in your support system for help. They can help you avoid triggers and get you into a treatment program if you choose to.
If you are not in recovery and your substance use has begun to spiral out of control, it may be time to ask for help. However, it may be difficult to admit that you have a problem with alcohol or drugs. Recognizing that you need help and asking for help as soon as possible is extremely important.
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