As the holiday season kicks into high gear, it gets harder to avoid socializing at events without coming across glasses of wine or champagne. And when everyone else is drinking, it gets a little awkward to reject people’s even well-intentional offers. While sometimes sipping on a couple of mixed drinks at parties on the weekend may not seem like a big deal, it’s not so great in the long run.
Talking long-term health
While it’s generally known that alcohol is “bad for you,” it’s pretty socially acceptable to get a little tipsy here and there. But harmful alcohol use is one of the major risk factors for noncommunicable diseases, which are illnesses that are not transmittable between people, like cancer or heart disease. Other risk factors include tobacco use, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity.
NCDs are chronic diseases that are the leading cause of death and disabilities worldwide, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. And on top of that, these illnesses kill 17 million people before the age of 70 every year.
So while it may be tempting to have a few extra drinks counting down to the new year, it can have serious consequences down the line.
It’s weird to think that something that can be so bad for you is so acceptable to do. But there’s a reason for that. And it’s not really your fault. Like a lot of things in life, it’s because of money.
Moneymaker: Alcohol sells
A Gallup poll found that eight in 10 adults in the U.S. have seen an advertisement for alcohol within the last year. And on top of that, alcohol marketing is largely being advertised on social media nowadays, which makes it even harder to escape. It’s totally in your face.
You’d think that this would be a red flag — a sign for alcohol advertising to be more heavily regulated because the government identifies alcohol as a known carcinogen. But money talks. And being a major moneymaker, the alcohol industry gets billions of dollars a year in things like tax breaks and marketing subsidies, according to a report from Vital Strategies, a global public health organization.
But the pandemic brought in a lot of change, including in how we consume alcohol. According to Forbes, the demand for no-alcohol and low-alcohol beverages is booming. So maybe, you might be seeing more non-alcoholic drinks at your next few holiday parties.
Boundaries Around the Holidays
Even with more people reaching for a mocktail these days, for some, it’s just not practical to cut out alcohol altogether, especially during the holidays. There’s likely going to be alcohol at every party, and let’s be real. This time of year is when a lot of people let loose a little in a lot of aspects of life. They’ll eat more sweets than usual, skip gym day, splurge a little more.
So yes, treat yourself. But try to stick by boundaries you create for yourself. And let your loved ones in on it too. It’s easier said than done. But it can be helpful to have someone with you who you’ll know will advocate for you if anyone does try to pressure you into drinking more than you’re comfortable with.
And if you have a non-alcoholic drink you enjoy, it doesn’t hurt to bring some not only for yourself, but for others to try too. It is the season of generosity after all.