By all means, deck your halls with balls of holly… but keep holiday spirits in check when it comes to the punchbowl.
Akikur Mohammad, M.D., a leading addition expert, board-certified psychiatrist, says that while moderate drinking is fine for most of us (note caveat below), it’s never a good idea to gorge on cocktails, beer and wine just because it’s the holidays.
“Unfortunately, your brain and the rest of your body don’t give you a free pass just because silver bell are ringing and the weather outside is frightful,” says Dr. Mohammad, and founder of Inspire Malibu, a leading evidence-based addition treatment center in Los Angeles. Here’s comes that caveat: “And, women who are pregnant — or planning on becoming pregnant soon — must never, ever drink or drug. Not a single sip, he says.
But what about the products advertised ad nauseam these days that promise to make a heavy night of partying like it never happened?
“Contrary to popular belief, there is no scientific evidence that any over-the-counter supplement, herbal or otherwise, can repair the damage to your body from alcohol. Even a small amount of alcohol damages brain cells, and research shows that binge drinking is much worse than low-level frequent drinking because of the damage to the brain caused by excessive drinking, ” says Dr. Mohammad. “If that were bad enough, there is a pronounced higher risk of breast cancer for women who indulge in periodic binge drinking.”
Bottom line: There is no way to reverse the potential damage to the body caused by binge drinking. With that in mind, “no one should plan on binge drinking with the false idea that the consequences of it will all go away in the morning,” he says.
Ok, but let’s say we plan to drink only moderately. What the heck is moderation when it comes to hooch?
Moderate drinking for women is defined as 1 drink per day and for men, 2 drinks per day. So, in this sense, anything beyond moderation is excessive. However, if we want to classify binge drinking as a separate category beyond excessive, then the CDC’s definition is helpful, which defines “binge drinking” for women as 4 servings and for men 5 serving of any of the following on one occasion or during a two-hour period:
- 12-ounces of beer (5% alcohol content).
- 8-ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content).
- 5-ounces of wine (12% alcohol content).
- 1.5-ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)
All good things in moderation. Still, the good doctor knows that a few us will here the siren’s call this holiday for one more nightcap before the party is over, and so offers the following recommendations, conveniently abbreviated as H.A.R.M. (as in do no…) to alleviate the fatigue, headache, thirst and other conditions associated with a hangover. As it turn out, the best remedies are the tried-and-true ones. Rest assured, if these don’t work, most hangover will pass in 24 hours.
- Hydrate – Drink lots of H2O or coconut water to rehydrate. (Excessive alcohol makes you pee excessively, which can lead to dehydration.)
- Alleviate – Take a pain reliever like Advil or Motrin (active ingredient: ibuprofen) to reduce headache. (Aspirin can irritate an already upset stomach and acetaminophen products like Tylenol can damage the liver, which already has been working overtime because of the excessive drinking.)
- Replenish – Eat carbohydrates, like toast and pasta, to boost your blood sugar level that likely would have dipped while drinking.
- Metabolize – Get the alcohol out of your system by accelerating its metabolism through easy exercise – walking or a light yoga class are ideal.