The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year. Anyone can tell simply by listening or watching how people act at the stores or out in the open. As we get closer to the Christmas holiday, people start to frantically run around like they’ve lost their minds. It makes you wonder if they are on drugs or had a few too many drinks beforehand. It really is enough to drive anyone crazy constantly being bombarded by the attitudes, rushing around, and generally trying to keep up with the shopping lists. Talk about the stress. Could you imagine if your job was like the Christmas holiday season all year around?
Although you technically can’t avoid stress, you can give yourself some relief time to time. For instance, you might want to step back, take a deep breath, count to 10, and breathe out slowly. Another tip you can try is to simply take a walk. If you’re at work, step out of your space and get some fresh air. Some people like to smoke cigarettes to relieve stress, although it’s not advised, nor is drinking alcohol excessively. This time of year, it would be easy to lose track of how much a person had to drink, in which could result in some bad decisions. Some that could get you in trouble with the law because you were driving intoxicated.
People who celebrate the holidays with alcohol may not realize that decision-making abilities become eroded before any physical signs of intoxication start to show. Alcohol acts as a stimulant by giving off the upbeat feeling and a level of excitement to those who consume it. Soon after, it starts to effect inhibitions and judgment. Take for example, why do police officers ask you to walk a line when you get pulled over? They are checking to see if you have balance. Alcohol decreases energy consumption in the cerebellum, a section of the brain that controls a person’s motor skills activity. If you cerebellum is running on less that 100%, it would make walking a straight line or operate a motor vehicle a bit of a challenge.
According to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), they report that drunk drivers play a role in a full 40 percent of traffic deaths during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. That’s a 12 percent increase over any other time during the month of December. That statistic is concurred by the U.S. Department of Transportation as their report shows that 300 Americans die each year in the days surrounding the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Otherwise, it’s statistically shown that on average 27 people lose their lives each day in the month of December due to wrecks caused by alcohol. Throughout the year, more than 10,000 people die on U.S. roads. To put that into perspective, that is equivalent to 20 jumbo jets crashing.
Back in 2012, research also revealed that while the majority of alcohol-related deaths involved non-Latino whites, the highest death rate was seen among Native Americans and Alaska Natives (at 60.6 deaths per 100,000 people). Based on a yearly average, alcohol causes about 88,000 deaths in the US each year and costs the economy about $224 billion. The government says alcohol is responsible for one in every 10 deaths of Americans aged 20 to 64. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that excessive drinking not only leads to fatal car crashes and violence but around 70 percent of drinking deaths involved men.
Drinking alcohol has a lot more risks than many people realize. Unfortunately, only 1 in 6 adults talks with their doctor, nurse, or other health professional about their drinking issues. Assuming their Doctors and other health professionals can use alcohol screening, having a brief counseling session with their patients to possible help those who are drinking excessively just might help them reduce their habit. Often referred to as AAD, Alcohol-Attributable Deaths is a result of excessive alcohol consumption, the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Some states don’t have as much of a problem as others when it comes to AAD. For example, the state of New Mexico has a giant lead over all of the other states this year (2014) with 51.2 deaths per 100,000 residents. The state of Alaska comes in second with 41.1 deaths per 100,000 residents while Montana is third with 37.7 deaths per 100,000 residents.
If you think about it, adding a chemical to the brain could alter its function and behavior. Considering how alcohol can affect the brain, it may offer some insight into how it works. Behavioral researchers over time have done rigorous studies to understand the physiological and psychological effects of drinking alcohol. It’s well known that excessive drinking can alter a person’s mood, arousal, behavior, and neuropsychological functioning. Needless to say, those are some factors that could be the difference between making sad memories and good memories during the Christmas season. Alcoholism, itself, is a progressive disease that eventually takes a physical toll on a human body, running the risk of:
- damaging the central nervous system
- causing mental health disorders
- cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure)
- liver disease (cirrhosis of the liver)
- weakening the immune system
- contracting sexually transmitted infections
- some forms of cancer
Let’s step outside of the physical section and talk about the mental. What are some of the reasons why a person drinks heavily or excessively? I can’t imagine anyone being so thirsty and the only thing that will quench it would be alcohol. The truth is there could be a multitude of factors coming into play for a person who develops a drinking problem including family history, age, or the influence of who the person hangs out with on a regular basis. But remember that not every possible factor is linked up to alcohol addiction. For instance, there are people diagnosed with depression without becoming an alcoholic. For others, one specific problem may be so inescapable that it causes their alcohol addiction. Let’s also not forget that for some people, Christmas is the hardest time of the year emotionally in which may plunge them into a deeper state of depression, causing the urge to use alcohol as a method to drown out their feelings.
In addition to the physical and mental issues mentioned above, excessive alcohol abuse will cause problems for your social and family lives. How long do you think your spouse or significant other is going to put up with your alcoholism? It’s going to come to the point where you either get right or you get left. On top of that fiasco, it’s a full-time job trying to keep up a good appearance of being a functional alcoholic outside the home. It won’t take long for the people closest to you to figure out that you do have an issue even though you try to hide any and all suspicious activity. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make things better if children are involved in the relationship either. Some of the biggest problems for a family member of an alcoholic are:
- Getting their loved one to admit they have a problem and need to seek treatment.
- Frequent arguments, suspicion, and lack of trust.
- The monetary cost of an ongoing alcohol problem (family finances).
- Escalating tensions have the potential to lead to violent behavior.
- The spouse may need counseling on their own.
At this time, there is no instant “cure” or medicinal remedy for alcohol addiction outside of a Christmas miracle, but you can overcome addiction with the right treatment and support. If you feel like you’re ready to face your addiction, then perhaps it’s time to seriously consider making an appointment with your family physician. He or she can recommend whether you need to enroll into a short-term or long-term program. Overall, it’s a long process that often depends on:
- a person’s circumstances
- prior history of alcohol dependence
- the level of support from family and friends
- financial situation
- personal commitment to becoming and remaining sober
It’s one thing to have one or two drinks, but when it becomes three, four, or more and then getting behind the wheel of your vehicle without waiting a little while, that’s going too far. If you feel like there’s nothing wrong, then why not just check to make sure? We suggest using an AlcoScreen saliva alcohol test to see what your BAC is before stepping out into your vehicle. It’s a very simple test to perform and will only take just a few minutes. Just dip a strip into your saliva sample and in a short time, you will see the results. For all the truck drivers on the road this Christmas, there’s the D.O.T. approved version available. Another fancy perk of using those test strips is that if you get a drink and you don’t know for sure if there is alcohol in it, you can dip one of those strips into the liquid and it will tell you if alcohol is an ingredient.
For those of you who qualify and prefer using a swab, we also offer the Q.E.D. saliva alcohol testing device that is also D.O.T. approved. This swab test can accurately gauge from 0.0% to 0.145% Blood Alcohol Content in your saliva if you have the right amount of fluid sample. If you are looking for on-site simplicity with clinical lab accuracy, any of these devices mentioned will give you accurate results within minutes after starting the test and the details are available for your consideration at our website.
The important thing to take away from this is to be safe during the Christmas season. Remember to have a designated driver that does not drink alcohol to drive you home after a holiday party. Being a smart party host or guest should include being sensible about drinking. Should you be the one that is hosting a party or get together and want to use an easy, convenient method as a way to test the people who insist on driving after a few drinks, we invite you to call (888) 404-0020 during normal business hours (weekdays 8am to 4pm CST) and speak with one of our highly knowledgeable sales consultants about any of our products that we offer on our website. You may also email your question or concerns to [email protected] and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.