Whether you like to “party” on New Year’s eve or not, here are some tips to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy as you ring in 2013.
On New Year’s Eve:
Stay off the roads if possible – even if you’re sober. To some folks New Year’s Eve – day and night – is an excuse to imbibe starting at daytime office parties, with neighbors, at home and so on. When I worked in the ER, we would start treating victims of auto accidents involving intoxicated drivers early in the morning on New Year’s Eve and continued throughout the daytime into the night.
If drinking, pace yourself. Make each drink last. Consider adding a lemon-lime soda to your beer to dilute or “extend” it, or adding more club soda/tonic to your alcoholic drink as you consume it. Alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks. I often drink plain tonic and lime at parties so I have a drink in my hand but no one knows I’m tea-totaling. Besides, there’s no rule that says you have to consume alcohol on New Year’s Eve.
Snack while drinking. Consume high protein foods like peanuts, cheese and meat to slow down the absorption of alcohol in your digestive track. Don’t ever drink on an empty stomach.
Know that coffee doesn’t “sober you up.” Although it is a stimulant and can potentially make you more alert if you’re sleepy, it does not speed up the metabolism of alcohol in your blood stream. So alert or not, you will still be impaired if you drink too much. And if you are mixing caffeinated energy drinks with alcohol, you are playing Russian roulette with your health and your life by potentially disrupting your heart’s rhythm. It’s a recipe for disaster.
Remember that alcohol has side effects. Even one drink can cause dizziness, sleepiness, headaches, stomach upset and more. Consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time can even be fatal.
If you’re hosting a party, arrange transportation for guests to get home, offer to pay for a cab, or make overnight arrangements for them. If you’re serving alcohol, it’s your moral and legal responsibility to be sure your guests get home safely or stay put.
Don’t drink and drive – pure and simple. Not only does alcohol dull your senses, your reflexes and your judgment, it also makes you less aware of how impaired you actually are – a vicious cycle. If going out, have a designated sober driver (friend or hired driver), or take a cab home afterwards even if you have to come back for your car another time. Better yet, leave your car at home and take a cab both ways. Many towns offer free public transportation on New Year’s Eve, too.
Words of caution: Consuming alcohol while taking other drugs – prescribed or otherwise – can enhance the impact of alcohol on your system and result in serious side effects from the interaction. Proceed with extreme caution.
If someone you know does become very intoxicated, simply letting them “sleep it off” may not be enough. Someone should monitor them. Fatalities have occurred when an intoxicated person vomits while asleep and chokes or develops a very low heart rate.
The Day After:
Hydrate yourself. Alcohol is a diuretic (as is caffeine) and can deplete your body of vital fluids and nutrients. If you did stay up too late and drink too much, drink plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages such as water, fruit and vegetable juice, herbal tea with lemon and honey, bouillon, sports drinks etc. The “hair of the dog” theory (drinking more alcohol to cure a hangover) only delays the inevitable and is not recommended.
Get proper rest. After pushing your physical limits with extra food, drinking and partying, your body needs some down time to regain it’s equilibrium and de-stress. You may experience residual symptoms the day after such as grogginess, dizziness, gastric upset and headache. If possible, avoid using analgesics which can irritate your stomach or react adversely with residual alcohol in your system.
Eat right. Eggs have been reported to soften the effects of a hangover because of an amino acid called cysteine. Crackers and other light carbohydrates can ease a queasy stomach. Bananas can also soothe your gut and provide needed sugar and nutrition.
Take your vitamins. Since overindulging can result in a weakened immune system and depleted nutrients, consider helping your body heal by taking supplements that contain the B vitamins, C and magnesium.
Have a happy, safe and healthy 2013!