To the Editor:
Each year, the holiday season offers many opportunities to spend time with friends, family and coworkers. Unfortunately, more people are likely to drink or use other substances beyond their limits during this season than at other times of the year. Some will suffer adverse consequences that range from fights to falls to traffic crashes.
Sadly, we put others and ourselves at risk because we don’t understand how impairment from alcohol and substances will affect us during an evening out celebrating.
Holiday hosts or guests may not recognize that using alcohol or substances will alter critical decision-making abilities. For example, when alcohol is first consumed, it acts as a stimulant, and people who drink may feel upbeat and excited. But don’t let the first glow of alcohol fool you. Alcohol soon decreases inhibitions and judgment, and can lead to reckless decisions. In addition to alcohol, some guests may partake in more than one substance.
Add marijuana or prescription drug use to cocktails, and your guest’s impairment suddenly may be greatly intensified.
During the holiday season, another factor to consider is the safe storage of your prescription or medical marijuana drugs. Choose a place for storage where children cannot reach, make sure the prescription safety cap is locked, know how much you have and keep it locked up and where it is not accessible to children, teens or your guests.
Also ask your houseguests and visitors to keep purses, bags or coats that may have medications or marijuana in them up and away and out of sight when they are in your home.
While celebrating this holiday season, here are some tips to consider.
Are the risks of using any substance worth the consequences you may be placing upon yourself and others?
If you take prescription medications, consult with your physician before using alcohol, marijuana or other substances. Certain medications may be intensified or become dangerous when mixed with alcohol or other drugs, even in small amounts. Keep prescription medications locked up and out of sight so no one else can access them.
Plan ahead. Where are you going? Who are you going with? How are you getting home? Have the phone numbers for cabs handy.
Prepare: Eat, drink water and make sure you take just enough money to have a good time. Leave your credit cards at home!
Pace yourself. Limit how much you drink in a night, try doing “drink spacers” making every other drink a nonalcoholic one. If you’re not with a designated driver, you can always phone or text a friend, family member, call a taxi or spend the night. Please remember that there are always safe and sober alternatives available for celebrating the holiday season.
Don’t risk your life and the lives of innocent others by driving after drinking or using substances. By considering, planning, preparing and pacing, you can enjoy the celebrations of the holiday season while protecting the health and safety of yourself, your loved ones and our community.
Here’s to a safe, joyful and healthy holiday season!