Holiday Party Safety: If you choose to drink, drink responsibly

“There’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting…”

The holiday season has arrived in full force, and for some people that might include attending several parties leading up to the biggest party of the year – New Year’s Eve!

Many gatherings this time of year often involve alcoholic beverages, including eggnog, mulled wine, or Irish coffee, but this should not be the sole focus of the party. There are plenty of other ways to have fun like decorating cookies, singing carols, doing magic tricks, or asking everyone about their Christmas list/New Year’s Resolutions!

The 5-week stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year’s in the United States is the most dangerous season of the year for those trying to maintain sobriety and anyone driving on highways. The effects of alcohol misuse and abuse continue to be significant for the Coast Guard and have an impact on our ability to execute our missions. It is imperative that members use caution when choosing to drink alcohol as half of all arrests of Coast Guard members are alcohol related, with DUI being the number one reason for alcohol-related arrests.

The Coast Guard Substance Abuse Prevention Program uses the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism guidelines for what constitutes low-risk drinking behavior. If a person chooses to drink alcohol, he/she should consume no more than one “standard alcoholic beverage” per hour and never consume more than three in one day.

If you are going to drink, make sure you:

  • Have a designated driver or get an uber, lyft, or cab. It’s one of the simplest rules to follow, but also one of the most effective in keeping people safe on the roads. If someone should not be driving and they insist on going home, call a cab for them instead of allowing them to drive.
  • Drink non-alcoholic drinks too. There are also many festive alternatives to alcohol, so drink other beverages as well.
  • Enjoy the food! Drinking on an empty stomach can cause a person to become intoxicated faster, so make sure to savor all of the goodies too.


Never use alcohol when:

  • Planning to drive a vehicle or operate machinery
  • Taking medications
  • Managing a medical condition that can be made worse by drinking
  • Underage
  • Cleaning or using a weapon


Look out for shipmates, family, and friends:

The fear of receiving, or causing another to receive, an alcohol incident may be a barrier to intervening or reporting. However, it is necessary to tak care of your shipmates, especially if they’re at risk of hurting themselves or someone else. Additionally, intervening early and at low levels, such as by asking an intoxicated member if he/she has a plan for transportation home or ensuring he/she is not left alone, makes it less likely that the situation will escalate. In other words, taking action early should curtail or put an end to the dangerous situation, thus preventing an alcohol incident.

As service members, we are responsible for our own readiness. If we choose to drink, we have a duty to do so responsibly.

Members seeking help for an alcohol-related concern have the option of making a self-referral, which is non-punitive. Alternatively, units may also make a command referral to medical personnel to get members the support and compassionate care they need, without initiating disciplinary or administrative proceedings.

If you believe you or someone you care about may have a problem with alcohol, please reach out and get help.

For questions/concerns please call the Substance Abuse Prevention Team (SAPT) Support Line at (757) 628-4329.

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