Staying Safe on New Year’s Eve
By Ilija Sekulovski
ON NEW YEAR’S EVE
Stay off the roads if possible, even if you’re sober. To some folks, both the day and night of New Year’s Eve is an excuse to imbibe, starting with office parties, 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. They kept coming in throughout the day and well into the night.
If you are drinking, pace yourself. Make each drink last. Consider adding a lemon-lime soda to your beer to dilute or “extend” it. You can also add more club soda or tonic to your alcoholic drink as you consume it. Alternate alcoholic drinks with nonalcoholic drinks. I often drink plain tonic and lime at parties so I have a drink in my hand but no one knows I’m teetotaling. 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 tract. 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 bloodstream. So alert or not, you will still be impaired if you drink too much. If you mix caffeinated energy drinks with alcohol, you are playing Russian roulette with your health and your life by potentially disrupting your heart’s rhythm, which can stop your heart and lead to death. 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.
Arrange for transportation. If you’re hosting a party, have transport options for guests to get home. You can offer to pay for a cab or make overnight arrangements. 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. Alcohol dulls your senses, your reflexes and your judgment and makes you less aware of how impaired you actually are. That can turn into a vicious cycle of denial that keeps you drinking long after you should have stopped. If you’re going out, have a designated sober driver or take a taxi home afterward, 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 prescribed, over-the-counter or illicit drugs can enhance the impact of alcohol on your system and result in serious side effects. If you are on medications and plan on drinking, discuss what might happen with your doctor to make sure you won’t end up in the hospital.
If someone you know does become very intoxicated, letting him or her “sleep it off” may not be enough, and a sober friend should monitor them. Fatalities have occurred when an intoxicated person vomits while asleep and chokes or develops a very low heart rate and dies.
THE DAY AFTER
Hydrate yourself. Alcohol is a diuretic and can deplete your body of vital fluids and nutrients. If you did drink too much, drink plenty of nonalcoholic, noncaffeinated beverages the next morning. That hydration could include water, fruit and vegetable juice, herbal tea with lemon and honey, bouillon or sports drinks. 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, drink and partying, your body needs some down time to regain its equilibrium and de-stress. You may experience residual symptoms the day after such as grogginess, dizziness, gastric upset and headache. If possible, avoid using painkillers since some kinds can irritate your stomach or react with the 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 a vitamin supplement.
Have a happy, safe and healthy 2015!