As Christmas and the end of the year draw nearer, people are flooded with messages about last-minute gifts, menu planning, family get-togethers and all the other bells and whistles associated with the silly season.
For some, one of the messages in the mix — that alcohol forms an intrinsic part of the celebrations — can be difficult to grapple with.
Deakin University’s Peter Miller, whose research focuses on violence prevention and addiction studies, said the end-of-year period was harder for people who had a difficult relationship with alcohol.
“We have the alcohol industry, supermarkets, and a whole lot of people pushing alcohol constantly, everywhere you go,” he said.
“There’s all this stuff around alcohol that makes it much harder.”
Many Australians are now opting to avoid alcohol for all sorts of reasons, such as mental and physical health and religious beliefs, and there are signs young people are drinking less than their parents.
Whatever the reason, if you’re trying to limit your alcohol intake, or avoid it altogether this year, those in the know have offered some tips for sticking to your plan.
Recognise Christmas can be a hard time
Many people can enjoy alcohol in moderation, but there’s evidence a lot of Australians drink beyond national guidelines that recommend not exceeding four standard drinks a day, or 10 per week.
Deakin University’s Peter Miller says the end-of-year period is difficult for people already struggling.(Supplied)
About a quarter of the population aged over 18 — or about 5 million people — drink beyond that, according to ABS data, which heightens people’s risk of alcohol-related illness and injury.
“It’s not just people who have been identified or self-identify as alcohol dependent, because actually there are a whole lot of us who are in denial about it as well,” Professor Miller said.
He said part of the issue at Christmas was that many people, particularly those who had experienced trauma or complex upbringings, used alcohol “to cope with their feelings”.
“Christmas and New Year’s can be very lonely times,” he said.
“There can be a lot of conflict within families that comes up, or feelings of missing people, and many people, particularly if they are already using alcohol heavily, can lean on that more.”
If you or anyone you know needs help:
He said that was particularly concerning because alcohol hindered self control.
Professor Miller said violence towards others and self-harm usually spiked around this …….