Stefanie changed her relationship with alcohol

Good to see a magazine featuring a range of Irish celebrities talking about their relationship with alcohol.

First up was Stefanie Preissner, creator of the popular RTE show Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope

A hangover lasts 3 days

She talks  in gruesome details about waking up with a hangover which lasted 3 days, but she’s chuffed with herself for waking up in her own bed because as she says

My standards for what constitutes a good, safe night of drinking have plummeted so low, that I can achieve them simply by waking up at home alone”

She wasn’t the only one of her friends in this. The group texts would start in the afternoon, putting the jigsaw pieces of the night together until they reached the last person to blackout.

It takes effort to learn that drinking is not cool

Stefanie says we’re taught from a very young age that drinking is cool and fun. She never realised she was drinking too much because she hung out with other people who drank too much. As she says

“It’s nearly impossible to call out binge drinking, when it’s part of our cultural identity…

Irish people will do anything to protect their relationship with drink..

We call people “dry balls” or dry shites” if they try to highlight the dysfunction of drinking

There’s social currency when someone can hold their drink and not be seen as lightweight”

Stefanie is not an alcoholic

Stefanie is very clear, that she was and is not an alcoholic. But she was noticing the impact alcohol was having on her life. It was a toxic relationship. The money, the hangovers, the loss of time. Taking lots of painkillers.

Not drinking has a downside

Stefanie sometimes misses the ease with which she could drink herself into oblivion, it made it easier to sit next to annoying people at parties or events. It made it easier to deal with feelings because you could just avoid them- grief, sadness, anger all sloshed away.

She has a brilliant life now

But she says has a brilliant life, apart from all the people who feel threatened by her being sober.

She ends with a call, to people to think about not drinking.  As she says

“Not drinking for a while, wouldn’t be a problem for someone who wasn’t dependent on it.

Irish Culture is changing

Stefanie is brutally honest about her own drinking and the culture of binge drinking among her friends.

It’s great to see influencers like Stefanie showing it’s possible to enjoy life without binge drinking. Breaking down the stigma of the alcoholic label. That you don’t have to be an alcoholic to experience the downsides of drinking. Finally, our society is beginning to wake up to the harm of drinking too much.

Hopefully in years to come, it will acceptable to not drink. Making it a lot easier for those of us trying to drink less.

Stefanie’s’ article is well worth reading here.

Marian Keyes a national treasure- had a little drink problem

Marian Keyes, the book author is leading the way towards a kinder Irish society. Recently she was described as a “National treasure” at an event in the National Concert Hall, where her fans gathered to celebrate her latest book “Grown ups”.

A card carrying liberal

Marian told the audience she is

“A card carrying bleeding heart liberal, “I am really happy to pay much more tax if I knew it was going to get people off waiting lists or to build social housing. I think the young people of this country have been stiffed the most. I think it’s appalling the way it is impossible to find somewhere to rent and I think it’s appalling that there has not been an underground built in this traffic-choked city”

Marian takes action

Marian does not just talk she also takes action. Recently she appeared in a video supporting the campaign to treat drug use as a health rather than criminal issue. You can see it here

She was also a leading supporter of the Together for Yes campaign, actively campaigning and matching donations to get the poster campaign started. She got a lot of abuse for this.

Her book “The break” had a middle aged married woman travelling to London for an abortion.

Her books are not just “chick lit”

Marian Keyes books are often put down as just being “chick lit”, a term used to slag off books aimed at women.  Part of our charming misogynistic culture when women’s literature, interest and lives are valued less than men’s.

Her books as well as being entertaining, actually help people. For example,  “Saved by Cake” was written when she was suffering from depression. I’ve watched as one person I love, worked their way through the book and yes, it did actually help their depression

Rachel’s Holiday

Fans are delighted she’s announced a sequel to Rachel’s Holiday. This book describes Rachel going to what she thinks is a holiday resort for people with a little addiction problem, which turns out to be a really tough boot camp.

We often recommend the book for people who have a drink problem but also for people who want to know all that’s wrong with our addiction treatment services. It’s a beautiful moving, uplifting, insightful story.

Follow Marian on twitter

I’m obviously a fan and I follow Marian Keyes on Twitter. She is hilarious, kind and really witty and I’ve often laughed out loud at her tweets.

Here’s just one

I’d like to carry a sign saying, “I’M 56, STOP ASKING ME TO BE THIN, IT IS NOT POSSIBLE!”

Old Vumman gives Marian a hard time

Marian often tells about her Mother who she calls “Old Vumman”.  Here’s one example.

“RingRing

Old Vumman: Hay-loh

Me: its me!

OV: What NOW?

Me: Graham Norton likes my book! …………….. ……………..

OV: Graham Norton off the telly?

Me: Yes!

OV: …how do you know?

Me: He TWEETED it

OV: It probably wasn’t him AT ALL! He could have been HACKED”

This type of put down from Old Vumman is pretty constant. Being lucky enough to have a Mother, who once I reached adulthood thought I was wonderful and could do no wrong, I often wonder what impact it has on Marian. Must be tough having a Mother who rarely praises you. Marian sometimes seems very vulnerable when she’s doing her videos and tweets.

Marian Keyes is honest

What I admire most of all about Marian, is she is so honest about her own problems with alcohol. She has to stay off alcohol entirely. By being so honest, she’s helping to reduce the stigma around drinking too much and showing people with alcohol problems are talented, creative, kind and sensitive. They are not horrible, nasty people, labels society often places on them.

Marian can help if you’re feeling down

So if you’re feeling down in this peak Christmas drinking season, have a read of Rachel’s holiday, it’s available in public libraries.  Or listen to Marian on Desert Island Discs here.

Marian will also be speaking at an event in the National Concert Hall in February and you can book here.

So for an enjoyable evening go along to listen to this national treasure.

PS If you’d like more tips on managing your drinking click here.

Proud grandmother has first brandy in ten years

We’re all so happy to see Shane Lowry winning the Open. An incredible achievement and one to be celebrated. Sadly though, all the images I’m seeing take place in a pub with lots of talk of filling the claret jug with alcohol and drinking brandy.

Grandmother has first brandy in ten years

Yes, “Grandmother has first brandy in 10 years“, is an actual headline from our national news broadcaster here  on the RTE news website.

In a terrific interview with Shane’s lovely Granny Scanlon, when she spoke about how proud she was of her Grandson, our national broadcaster highlights alcohol.

Mrs Scanlon mentions she had two brandies when she had not drunk for ten years. She was honest enough to admit the brandies “nearly killed her”. Now, we’re not criticising Mrs Scanlon, suggesting she has a drink problem or she should not drink.

We’re criticising our national broadcaster for once again celebrating alcohol to generate a good headline. Ignoring all the other lovely stuff, Mrs Scalon said, any of which would have been interesting. For example, Shane eating the turf.


A woman drinking her first brandy in years is a news headline. The RTE headlines reflects a toxic culture that celebrating always means alcohol.

Philly Mc Mahon calls stop

Philly Mc Mahon disagrees. The talented Dublin footballer and Gym owner does not drink. He believes Irish people have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, He states Irish people believe

Ah sure, we’re Irish we like to drink, we still glamorise the whole culture around it, without realising it still destroys whole families.”

Last year, when Philly was on the Late Late show and alcohol was mentioned, there was a big cheer. Unlike most people Philly was offended. Philly has worked to try and change this and I’m looking forward to reading his book “The Choice”.

A long way to go

Despite Philly’s and many other people’s efforts, as we can see from a headline celebrating someone drinking, we’ve still a long way to go to change drinking culture. The media do not help and could do so much more.

Instead of colluding with the alcohol industry to keep us believing that alcohol is harmless, they could warn us about alcohol harm.

Now days the media always end reports on suicide with

“If you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised in this programme you can contact the following helpline numbers….”

So if they can do it with suicide, imagine if the media ended all reports on alcohol with

“Alcohol is a psychoactive drug that can kill, if you’ve been affected by alcohol harm, you can contact the following helpline numbers…”

A seductive red

So imagine after every wine review, talking about a

“Very seductive, soft, sweet, strawberry, Pinot Noir,

Or every article talking about new gins

 “A funky orange gin that will be especially popular in the rebel county”

(Both recent quotes)

The article or interview had a warning

Alcohol is a psychoactive drug that can kill, if you’ve been affected by alcohol harm, you can contact the following helpline numbers….”

It would be an initial start to reducing the passion of our toxic love affair with alcohol.

Not convinced?

Until the media stop selling the idea, that alcohol is this harmless party drug and instead have to warn people that alcohol is a psychoactive drug, we’ll continue to see too many people being harmed by alcohol.

After all, when we stopped allowing cigarette advertising and put warnings on packets we started to see attitudes towards smoking changing. Now smoking is not cool, and for the first time ever we now have more ex-smokers than actual smokers.

This all happened as part of a big public health campaign but it shows it is possible to change attitudes with good leadership. The media has a major role to play in this.

Ignore the hype

So it’s difficult to avoid the hype that celebrating means we drink. However, just be aware, that’s all it is- hype. It’s possible to enjoy ourselves without alcohol. And as Mrs Scanlon found alcohol can take away from the enjoyment of happy occasions.

In Vino Veritas or we tell the truth when drunk

Have you ever heard someone say In vino veritas on a night out? Maybe you’ve even said it yourself once or twice.

Because the idea that wine – and alcohol generally – are agents of truth-telling has deep roots in our culture.

We can’t help telling the truth in our cups?

In our books, on our stages, and on our screens, the character in his or her cups is represented as the figure who cannot help being authentic. The drink forces us to be honest, we cannot tell a lie.

Drink tricks us into believing the worse of ourselves

Drink, or so the story goes, makes us bear witness against ourselves. It forces us to reveal uncomfortable truths that we would prefer to keep hidden.

By claiming to dare to go where we are reluctant to go voluntarily, in other words, it tricks us into believing that what we suppress about ourselves – our darkest secrets – are who we really are.

Too much drink stops us living our best lives

But this account is both misleading and incomplete. It does not capture us in all our varieties and colors.

In claiming to have exposed us, it tries to stop us being more imaginative.

In claiming to know what sort of people we really are, it seeks to prevent us from exploring all the versions of ourselves that we might choose to become.

We have many parts

We all have a repertoire of things we think and feel, which we cannot quite bring ourselves to say.

These are a part of who we are. But they are only a part. And they are no more authentic than the part of ourselves that gives to charity and remembers to call our mother on the weekend because we love to hear the sound of her voice.

We are all the hidden, decaying portrait of Dorian Gray.

But we are also the Venus de Milo.

We are our child’s crayon drawing that we display, with pride, on the family refrigerator.

Does in vino veritas make us believe we are monsters?

In vino veritas’ would have us believe that, deep down, we are all monsters and villains, that what we really want is to get loose, to tear the world – and one another – apart.

But we are more than that, so much more.

We are more than our fears

We are, each of us, more than a single story. We are more than a catalogue of our fears.

However, if we cannot always stop ourselves thinking the worst about ourselves (and other people), we deserve, at the very least, to give ourselves the chance to see that we are all so much better than we sometimes allow ourselves to believe. As Lucy discovered when she stopped drinking, she was better than she thought.

An Alcohol free hen party can be great fun

Your friend is getting married soon and she’s wondering if an alcohol free hen party is a good idea. She’s  struggling with alcohol and trying to stay off the booze  until after the wedding. She’s dreading the hen party as she’s worried she will drink and make a fool of herself.  You know that a hen party free from alcohol  would avoid potential problems.


Alcohol free may be essential

The bride to be may be very stressed out, so have a discussion with her to agree if  an alcohol free hen  party is a good idea. Let her know, you will keep her informed, discussing all suggestions and ideas with her. 

Plan, Plan, Plan

A person close to the bride  to be, should meet with her privately to find out the triggers that are likely to cause her to drink. Triggers are things such as smells, activities, people that might cause a problem. Find out more about triggers here.

Know the triggers

Once you know what the bride’s triggers are you can plan to avoid them. Certain people may cause a lot of anxiety and stress to the bride so it might be worthwhile chatting to these people to avoid problems or even leave them off the list entirely.

Avoid stress and anxiety

Planning the hen party well in advance can help reduce  stress and anxiety.  Stress and anxiety are  common triggers for drinking too much, so plan activities that encourage relaxation. Understanding what activities the bride and friends are will  enjoy is important.

Decide  what you’re telling  the guests

Agreeing what the bride will say  about her drinking is important. Is she confident enough to simply state this is an alcohol free hen party as she’s not drinking?

Or is a cover story easier? Perhaps  the bride is taking metronidazoleA+ for bacterial vaginosis which means she can’t drink. This cover story can also be great for a laugh!

Or perhaps it’s a hen party where as well as having fun, all monies saved by not drinking will go to a charity of the Bride’s choice.

The key is to let all the guests know what to expect  in advance of the party and making sure they’re ok with the format.

Or maybe a hen party with a difference ?

You can even take it a step further, by combining the hen party with doing something rewarding and helping people.

For example Access Earth is a free online platform offering mobility information for anyone who needs it. e.g which restaurants have wheelchair access. The hen party guests  can help feed into the data this platform provides. Guests are  broken into teams and set loose to try to win the top spot on the leader-board, by mapping as many places as possible.

Or you can help clean up the coast, paint in a hospital or take part in a dragon board race. More details of lots of  different activities   here.

Make sure hen party attendees are  on board

Some people may complain so this is why being clear on the agreed message is vital.

If the Bride has given permission, explain the Bride is trying to stay off alcohol.  She will find it much more difficult not to drink if other people are drinking.

If  the friends still keep complaining  make it clear  that if people can’t drink for one event, to support their friend, then it is sending a message they do not value the friendship. Perhaps it would be better if they did not attend?

After all if a friendship is only good in alcohol is it a real friendship?  Lucy found many of her friendships were based on alcohol and were toxic.

Alcohol free drinks?

If  money is available and it does not bother the bride you may be able to have a selection of alcohol free drinks available, including mocktails. You can find out more about alcohol free drinks here.

Even more party ideas

  • An old-fashioned sleepover, complete with facials, manicures, pedicures, films , and popcorn. Make sure the bride gets a good night’s sleep as sleep deprivation can be a trigger, especially in the early days.
  • Throw a dinner party at someone’s home. Make it as fancy or simple as you want.
  • If the bride enjoys board games, you could have everyone bring their favourite game to play, complete with popcorn and fizzy drinks. You could also do this with movies.
  • Set up a treasure hunt (like geocaching ).
  • If the weather is likely to be dry, go to a free event. For example, an event  in the National Gallery then picnic in the park.
  • Drive somewhere with a great walking trail and plan a hike together. Pack a special picnic and break the treats out after the hike.
  • There are places where you can make a craft, do-it-yourself style for a relatively small fee. Going home with a piece of pottery or jewellery would be a fun way to remember the night.
  • Escape room type games might be a good bonding experience.
  • Funky Seomra run alcohol free dance events.

Is a fun alcohol free hen party possible?

Is a fun alcohol free hen party possible? Absolutely! It just takes  planning, organising and a little bit of creativity.

Are you affected by “Silent Voices”?

Silent Voices, is a new campaign which aims to show how Ireland’s toxic relationship with alcohol hurts so many people.

This campaign is not about blaming people, or pointing fingers. Silent Voices want to stop the cycle of damage repeating and repeating across generations. As Father Peter Mc Verry says

Hurt people hurt other people”.


Marion, Barbara and Carol are 3 brave women

The 3 brave women leading the campaign have spoken out about the impact of their parents drinking on their lives.

Marion Rackard has been acutely aware of the silent stress including feeling powerless to do anything about it.

Barbara Whelan had feelings of anxiety and depression throughout her life. She began to realise the impact it had on her and sought professional help.

Carol Fawsitt found her self-esteem was “shot”. She felt different to everyone else, always on the outside, never being good enough, always feeling inadequate.

By setting up this campaign, these brave women are helping to start a much needed conversation about the harm alcohol does.

 Fergal felt shame was like his second skin

The celebrity BBC TV presenter Fergal Keane grew up with alcohol misuse. He felt shame all the time. It was like a second skin. The other big feeling he has is grief, because he never had a normal childhood.

In the video launching the campaign, Fergal talks about his own misuse of alcohol. He also makes the really important point that his parents did not wilfully set out to harm him. Useful to remember if you’re a parent drinking too much and feeling ashamed of the impact on your children.

Fergal’s book a memoir of his life called  “All of these people” is well worth while reading and is available from libraries or online

Are you more likely to have a problem with alcohol?

The research on whether children with parents who misused alcohol are more likely themselves to have problems with alcohol is mixed. Some studies report there is a higher risk of such children going on to have problems with alcohol, other say it is less likely. It seems to be generally accepted though that children affected by alcohol harm are more likely to have mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, depression etc. as adults. Silent Voices has more information here.

Everyone in Ireland knows some affected 

Since the early 1960’s our average drinking per person has gone from 4.9 litres per person to a high of 14.3 litres in 2001. The Health Research Board report that over 1.3 million people drink too much and the Silent Voices group estimate over 400,000 adults have been affected by parental drinking

silent voices



Are you a silent voice?

Are you an adult child affected by your parents’ alcohol misuse?

Well half the battle is to acknowledge that alcohol harmed your childhood and this harm may still be affecting you to-day. It might even be affecting your own ability to manage your drinking.

You might find it useful to read the stories of other adult survivors which you can find here.

You might also find our tips here on coping with emotional neglect useful.  Click here for details

Does drinking culture affect our drinking?

Well, had an amazing holiday travelling to Australia, New Zealand and Dubai and the chance to see how different drinking culture changes how much we drink.

Mardi Gra in Australia 

Landed in Sydney, the weekend of the Mardi Gra. So Saturday night hordes of happy chirpy characters wandering around in costumes from Little Bo-Peep to tiny little G-strings which left absolutely nothing to the imagination. I really enjoyed watching the parade and unlike Dublin city centre on a Saturday night there was no air of menace just people strutting their stuff and having fun.

Australians drink a lot but they’re behind us in the drinking stakes at 9.4 litres per person.

Chilled out New Zealand

Next to Wellington, New Zealand. Fantastic country with wonderful chilled out people.  They drink around the same as Australians at 9.4 litres.  The Kiwi’s I met did not drink much at all- one or two drinks on a night out. It was also lovely to be able to walk home from the city centre and feel totally safe.

Both Kiwis and Australians are drinking less now but there are concerns about the damage caused by drinking with the older age group doing most damge to themselves.

Drinking in Dubai

Stopped off in Dubai on the way home. A massive culture shock.  Public drinking is only allowed in hotels and restaurants. A licence is needed to buy alcohol in shops. Alcohol advertising is not allowed in Dubai. They bleep out words which refer to alcohol in songs played on the radio. At 3.8 litres per person their alcohol consumption is really low.

The Muslim religion forbids the consumption of alcohol. Muslim people are not allowed to work or support the alcohol industry in any way.

If we had not been staying in a hotel where alcohol was part of the package it would have been very easy not to drink.

While there are serious human rights issues in Dubai we could learn something from their approach to alcohol.

Drinking culture does affect how much we drink

So after an incredible holiday, sadly arrived back to Dublin. On one of my first nights out with friends drank more than I intended to. Again!  Never had that problem while I was away on holidays.

It’s just so easy to drink more than we want too in our drinking culture. Our society makes it very difficult to cut back on drinking. We drink more than any of the countries I visited at a massive 11 litres per person.

What to do?

So we can’t change how society views alcohol overnight. But we can help ourselves. Simply accepting that some of our drinking issues are caused by problems beyond our control can help us cope with them. Or as the Nagoski sisters put it

Just knowing the game is rigged can help you feel better straight away”

A thought that certainly made me feel better and not so stupid with my hangover.

Ruby says alcohol was holding her back

Ruby Warrington had it all, but felt something was holding her back. The former features editor of the Sunday Times Style magazine, founder of a digital platform called The Numinous was part of the in crowd. She hung out with celebrities and superstars drinking cocktails and champagne.

Everyone else was drinking

Ruby says she drank because everybody else was drinking and alcohol was presented as a tool to help her deal with life. From the age of just 15, Ruby says she was teaching her brain that she needed alcohol to cope.

My head hurt from drinking

Ruby never hit rock bottom or had any major life event. She just found on Sundays her head hurt, her stomach was sore, her tongue felt furry, and her hair felt both greasy and dry with her breath sour. On Sundays she felt like there was a hollow where her heart should be.

She decided to quit for a while

She decided alcohol was holding her back and quit for a while. She found she had more energy and motivation. Her relationships got better because she felt she was now connecting on a real human level not just through an alcohol haze.

It’s terrifying

Ruby says if we’ve been drinking our entire adult life, it’s a big part of our lives and giving up drink is terrifying. She believes as long as we hold a belief that alcohol just brings pleasure and joy, it remains in our lives. We agree. It’s why it is so important to understand our beliefs about alcohol and the pros and cons of our drinking.

She believes moderation does not work. We don’t agree, as everybody is different. See why here

Ruby’s useful tips

Ruby says don’t make a big deal of not drinking when you’re out. Offer to get the first round in and then you can buy yourself a soft or alcohol free drink without fuss. A useful tip.

She also suggests not to lie about why you’re not drinking. She tells people it makes her feel like crap and this works for her. Personally, I find it does not work for me, even though I had a major life threatening illness. People still want you to drink.

 Maybe it’s part of our Irish culture.

Sober curious

Ruby has written a book called

Sober Curious, the blissful sleep, greater focus, limitless presence and deep connection awaiting us all on the other side of alcohol”.

It’s getting good reviews and now she’s running a retreat in the US.

What is sober curious?

Apparently calling yourself sober curious means you know alcohol doesn’t make you feel great and you don’t drink it often, but you’re not willing to put an all-or-nothing label on yourself. So you only drink on rare occasions when you actually want to drink.

I like this idea of sober curious because it’s not black and white. It allows people to choose when and where they drink rather than drinking all the time or not drinking at all.

Where celebs go others follow

It’s good to see another celeb talking about their relationship with alcohol holding them back. Ruby joins other celebs not drinking like Nigella Lawson, Natalie Portman, Demi Lovato, Shania Twain, Jennifer Lopez to name just a few. Hopefully they are starting a trend that others will follow. Would n’t it be lovely if it was socially acceptable to just say I’m sober curious and leave it at that?

Taking action on your Christmas drinking triggers

Last week we wrote about identifying your Christmas drinking triggers, in this post we talk about taking action on Christmas drinking triggers.

As regular readers, will know it’s all  about the  planning.

Why is planning so important?

In our alcohol obsessed culture where drink is everywhere it’s very easy to drink too much. So it takes effort and advance planning to make sure we’re don’t get sucked down into the glug glug of boozy Christmas drinking.

Everybody’s different so what works for one person may not work for another. So thinking about what will work for you is really important.  Once you know what’s going to be  your Christmas drinking triggers you can take action. You might find these tips helpful.

 

Create an advent calendar

Creating an advent calendar covering those days which are most stressful for you can be useful. Lidl sell a range for just €4.99  were  you fill each day yourself. You can  use this to write little notes or reminders to yourself for different days. Or maybe even put in little gifts to help you stay focused.

To get you started, here‘s a calendar we came across that many people liked. It focuses on happiness.

christmas drinking triggers

 

Office Christmas parties

These can be a real killer as a Christmas drinking trigger. Everybody out to have fun, relax and in many workplaces there’s a free bar.  Not drinking means you can be seen as a real killjoy.

One way to avoid this pressure is to ring the venue in advance and see will they be serving no or low alcohol drinks. These can often look like the real thing. So you  look like you’re drinking when you’re not actually drinking.  Sneaky huh! For suggestions on low alcohol drinks see this post.

For even more tips on office parties click  here.

 

Family events can be real Christmas drinking triggers

If you’re part of a family where socialising consists  entirely of sitting around drinking, this can be very tough. It’s easier to take part then sit watching as the conversation gets more and more boring as people start slurring their words.

Also there’s usually one toxic family member present. I’ve heard one woman say we’re all encouraged to cut toxic people out of our lives, so why do we all feel the need to meet up with toxic family members at Christmas? It’s strange all right. So very important to keep our expectations of enjoying toxic family events low!

Here’s a few tips for family events we’ve heard you might find useful.

 

Arriving late

Not really good manners, but when the event is going to be a long drinking session, arriving late means you cut the amount of drinking time you spend there. And managing your drinking is much more important.

 

Bring any kids in the event for a short walk in the fresh air

I know we’ve been minding kids all year, so going for a walk in the cold, does not sound appealing. But I’ve found even a little break from the event does wonders.  It freshens me up, the kids can be really funny and I always go back in better humour. The other adults always appreciate you more as well.

(Did anyone see the wonderful Toy Show, I’d love a walk and  chat with so many of those lovely kids in particular Scott and Grace)

 

Make a bingo card

In Club Soda, one lady suggested making a bingo card. The bingo card has a range of different tasks on it. Like count the number of people at an event, or talk to someone who is not drinking. Or count the number of times someone mentions a particular word or phrase. Crossing off the bingo card when no one was watching made the event much more interesting.

 

Line up a friend

So  you know an event is really going to be full of   Christmas drinking triggers. For example, you’re going to feel really lonely in that crowded room because you’re the only one not drinking. Your sister in law will be making snide comments about your kids, while the brother boasts on and on about his new car.  So plan ahead and line up a friend that you can text or WhatsApp when you go to the bathroom. That way you can get a bit of moral support to help with  those lonely feelings.

 

Christmas is not perfect

So make your plans, but remember despite all the pressure around us to have the picture perfect Christmas it really is just another few days and we don’t have to be perfect or even to actually enjoy it!