Whatever your plans are for New Year’s Eve, here are some important tips to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy as you ring in 2014.
On New Year’s Eve:
Stay off the roads if possible – even if you’re sober. To some folks, New Year’s Eve – day and night – is an excuse to imbibe starting at daytime office parties, with neighbors, at home and so on. When I worked in the ER, we would start treating victims of auto accidents involving intoxicated drivers early in the morning on New Year’s Eve, continuing throughout the daytime into the night.
Pace yourself. Alternate alcoholic drinks with water or other healthy, low-calorie drinks like tea. Consider adding a lemon-lime soda to your beer to dilute or “extend” it, or adding more club soda/tonic to your alcoholic drink as you consume it. I often drink plain tonic and lime at parties so I have a drink in my hand but no one knows I’m being a teetotaler.
Snack while drinking. Consume high-protein foods like nuts, lean meat and healthy cheeses to help slow down the absorption of alcohol in your digestive tract. Don’t ever drink on an empty stomach.
Caffeine and alcohol don’t mix. If you are mixing caffeinated energy drinks with alcohol, you are playing Russian roulette with your health and your life by potentially disrupting your heart’s rhythm. It’s a recipe for disaster. And contrary to what some believe, coffee doesn’t “sober you up.” Although it is a stimulant and can potentially make you more alert if you’re sleepy, it does not speed up the metabolism of alcohol in your blood stream. So alert or not, you will still be impaired if you drink too much.
Beware of side effects. Even one drink can cause dizziness, sleepiness, headaches, stomach upset and more. Consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time can even be fatal. Plus, consuming alcohol while taking other drugs – prescribed or otherwise – can enhance the impact of alcohol on your system and result in serious side effects from the interaction. Proceed with extreme caution.
Keep guests and loved ones safe. If you’re hosting a party, arrange transportation for guests to get home, offer to pay for a cab, or make overnight arrangements for them. If you’re serving alcohol, it’s your moral responsibility to be sure your guests get home safely or stay put. If someone you know does become very intoxicated, simply letting them “sleep it off” may not be enough. Someone should monitor them. Fatalities have occurred when an intoxicated person vomits while asleep and chokes or develops a very low heart rate.
The Day After:
Stay hydrated. Alcohol acts as a diuretic (as does caffeine) and can deplete your body of important fluids and nutrients. If you did drink too much, drink plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages such as water, fruit and vegetable juice, herbal tea with lemon and honey, bouillon, sports drinks, etc. The “hair of the dog” theory (drinking more alcohol to cure a hangover) only delays the inevitable and is not safe.
Get some rest. If you’ve been pushing your physical limits with extra food, drinking and staying up late, your body needs some down time to regain its equilibrium and de-stress. You may experience residual symptoms the day after such as grogginess, dizziness, gastric upset and headache. If possible, avoid using pain relievers which can irritate your stomach or react adversely with residual alcohol in your system
Nourish yourself. Eggs have been reported to soften the effects of a hangover because of an amino acid called cysteine. Crackers and other light carbohydrates can help ease a queasy stomach. Bananas can also soothe your gut and provide needed nutrition.
Take your vitamins. Since overindulging can result in a weakened immune system and depleted nutrients, consider helping your body heal by taking supplements that contain the B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium. Of course, before starting any new supplements be sure to consult your doctor.