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Holiday drinking habits and their consequences need to be addressed

December 23, 2014
by Julia Brown, Associate Editor
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The holidays are in full swing, and ‘tis the season for many a festive gathering. But according to an online survey commissioned by Caron Treatment Centers and conducted by Harris Poll, many American adults lack accountability this time of year when it comes to alcohol use and have engaged in high-risk behavior as a result of drinking too much. 

More than 2,000 U.S. adults were surveyed, and findings suggest that a majority (59%) of adults age 21 and up who attend holiday parties and consume too much alcohol have engaged in potentially serious and dangerous behavior.

In fact, the majority of those who attend parties (87%) reported having witnessed someone who was "under the influence" at a party:

  • Arguing with others (68%);
  • Using excessive profanity (59%);
  • Flirting inappropriately (57%);
  • Becoming physically aggressive (56%);
  • Engaging in sexual activity (33%); and
  • Posting inappropriate comments or photos on social media (19%).

Of the surveyed adults 21 and up who engaged in one or more of these inappropriate behaviors when drinking too much at a party, 69% percent were hung over and 36% reported feeling embarrassed about their behavior, but fewer than one in five (17%) said they were concerned about their behavior.

Other concerning statistics pertain to parents with children under the age of 18 living at home. Of parents age 21 and up who attend and drink at parties:

  • One in four (26%) admit to driving home from a party after drinking too much; and
  • One in five (21%) have blacked out after drinking too much at a party.

Of these parents age 21 and up who attend parties and have behaved inappropriately when drinking, fewer than one in five (17%) felt concerned and some were even happy (11%).

Similarly, the survey revealed that more than half of adults in general who attend parties (55%) have seen someone drive even though they appeared to be impaired by alcohol. Additionally—and also somewhat surprisingly—two in five (40%) adults 65 and up who drink at parties admit to driving after drinking too much compared to 21% of 21 to 34 year olds.

These are scary statistics considering millions of people take road trips during the holiday season, according to AAA. Not to meantion that nearly 30 people die in motor vehicle crashes caused by alcohol-impaired drivers in the United States every day.

Understanding Alcoholism

The survey also revealed people’s misperceptions about alcoholism, which can have impactful and even devastating implications.

  • More than one in three (37%) of adults believe most alcoholics cannot hold down a full-time job;
  • Over seven in ten (72%) U.S. adults agree that most alcoholics drink every day; and
  • One in ten (10%) U.S. adults strongly agree with the statement: "Alcoholics could stop drinking if they wanted to, but they lack the willpower."

According to the American Psychiatric Association, alcoholism is a chronic and progressive disease that must be managed as one. Without recognizing that an addicted family member or friend has a legitimate health concern, that person may not receive the help they need, which could then lead to life-altering consequences.

“While the holidays are a time for celebration and enjoying time with family and friends, it's important that adults are aware of the dangers of alcohol use and make the healthiest decisions in order to keep themselves and others safe,” says a Caron Treatment release. “… Those who have a problem with alcohol and are no longer capable of making healthy decisions cannot recover without the proper support and tools,” it continues.

View the full survey infographic click here.