How to Stay Sober When Your Partner Parties This Holiday Season

Avoiding the temptation to drink too much when your partner insists on partying hard this holiday season isn’t an impossible goal. With a little preparation, self-awareness and taking proactive steps, you can manage to stay sober – despite what your partner may do.

This is no contest, so don’t feel you need to keep up.

What often happens at holiday gatherings is that the alcohol begins to flow without end. No one seems to be very cognizant of just how much they’re consuming or they lose track in the midst of having a good time. Binge drinking during the holidays can be a real problem. The CDC defines binge drinking as consuming four or more alcoholic drinks in a sitting; for men, it’s five. When you plan to attend one of these events, keep in mind that you’re not in a contest. You don’t need to keep up with everybody else, your partner included, every time a round of drinks is ordered or someone stands up to make an impromptu toast. One drink leads to another and another and so on until you, your partner, and many around you are well beyond their limit.

Insist on a meal before going to a party.

Help yourself by putting solid food in your stomach before venturing out with your partner to a holiday gathering where alcohol will be served. That way, you will lessen the likelihood of a drink that you consume raising your blood alcohol content (BAC) as fast. Having eaten already, you’re also less likely to want to overindulge in alcohol consumption to begin with. This allows you to have one drink, if you so desire, without feeling like you’re a party pooper. In addition, making sure your partner eats before partying will possibly slow down some of his or her alcohol consumption.

Nurse a drink, add water or tonic, and sip slowly.

Maintaining your own sobriety when others around you, including your partner, continue to down drinks requires you to adopt a slow-down strategy. One way to do this is to nurse that initial drink for as long as possible. Add water or tonic to the drink to keep it filled. You can also start out with soda, sparkling water or mineral water, or intersperse drinks with one of these nonalcoholic beverages. No one is paying attention to what’s in your glass. As long as it looks full and you sip it now and then, they won’t be the wiser. They also won’t be pestering you to drink up and have another.

Talk with your partner about how his/her drinking bothers you.

You need to be honest with your partner if nonstop holiday drinking is something you resent or is putting a strain on your relationship. It isn’t that you are trying to change your partner’s behavior, but you are letting your partner know that all this drinking is bothersome to you. It could be that you say you are doing your best to maintain your sobriety or, if you do not have a problem with alcohol, that it makes you uncomfortable when your partner and others get blind drunk and start saying and doing things they wouldn’t when sober. Maybe your partner won’t curtail his/her drinking this holiday season, but you will have voiced your feelings, and that is important for your own well-being and peace of mind.

Arrange to arrive late and leave early.

One way to cut down on problems resulting from your partner drinking too much is to arrange your arrival at parties, events, activities and gatherings to be as late as possible and to have a valid reason to leave the festivities early. Keep in mind that your partner, who wants to engage in the holiday merriment, will likely be somewhat opposed to this strategy. You may need to travel separately, if this is the case. Or, make arrangements to leave when you want and have your partner driven home by a sober friend, a taxi or ride service.

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