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How To Have a Sober New Year’s Eve (Or Control Your Drinking)

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The countdown to 2023 is ticking, and New Year’s Eve is almost upon us. Whether this means gathering with friends to celebrate, or having a virtual party over Zoom this year, one thing remains constant: NYE is a big night for alcohol. And while it can be nice to toast the new year with a glass of champagne, this can pose a challenge for those trying to cut back or quit.

Whether you’ve made a resolution to drink less, or you’re trying to gradually quit alcohol, here are some tips to control your drinking, or have a sober New Year’s Eve.

Risks of Binge Drinking on New Year’s Eve

people watching new year's eve fireworks, how to control your drinking
Photo by Padraig Treanor on Unsplash

It’s well known that many people drink heavily on the last night of the year. It’s a big night for parties, and for many that means free-flowing champagne, cocktails, and pushing things a bit further than usual.

If you’re in a safe environment, and you stick to safe limits, having a few drinks on New Year’s Eve may not be a big deal. But there are real risks to binge drinking, and it’s important to be aware of them.

Binge drinking is generally defined as drinking enough to bring your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 or higher. For men, this is usually five or more drinks within two hours. For women, this often means four servings of alcohol in the same period.

Possible consequences of drinking to this level include hangovers, blackouts, accidental injuries, unsafe sex, assault, and even alcohol poisoning. In fact, in the United States, about 2,200 people die from alcohol poisoning each year.1

All of this to say, there is nothing wrong with wanting to have a good time on December 31st. But if you’ve found yourself drinking too much in previous years, and you want to keep it under control this time, you’re certainly not alone. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to limit your drinking, or have a sober New Year’s Eve.

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5 Tips for Avoiding Alcohol (Or Drinking Less) On New Year’s Eve

1. Set a limit

If you are planning to drink, it’s helpful to set a limit before you arrive at the event or gathering. This prevents you from saying “Just one more drink” and losing count an hour later.

If you’re with friends, you could find an ally and agree to help each other stick to your respective limits. Another trick is to try keeping a coin in your back pocket for every drink you’re allowing yourself. For each glass of champagne, move a coin from your back pocket to your front pocket. When your pocket is empty, it’s time to stop!

2. Hold a nonalcoholic drink

On holidays where drinking is the norm, such as New Year’s Eve, your friends may ask you awkward questions if they notice you aren’t drinking alcohol. To help avoid this, try to always hold a cup with your nonalcoholic drink of choice.

Most parties have mixers like cranberry juice, orange juice, or club soda readily available for you to fill up your glass. You can also order nonalcoholic drinks from the bar. As long as you’re carrying a full cup, no one has to know what is (or isn’t) inside.

3. Alternate alcohol with water

woman holding sparkler on new year's eve, how to control drinking
Photo by Fachy Marín on Unsplash

Staying hydrated is an important part of avoiding a New Year’s hangover. Alcohol is a diuretic, causing you to lose fluids faster than usual. The more water and electrolytes you drink, the better you’ll feel the morning after.

Alternating alcoholic beverages with water is also a good way to slow yourself down, and prevent yourself from feeling drunk too quickly. And, as above, simply holding a full cup can limit drink offers, and keep you distracted from ordering more cocktails.

4. Be the designated driver

Planning a night out at the bar with friends to celebrate the New Year? Instead of drawing straws to decide who’s going to be the designated driver this year, why not volunteer?

Serving as designated driver for the night does your friends a favor, while giving you a good excuse to limit your drinking. Your friends get to save money on a rideshare service—and you don’t need to field nosy questions about why you’re not popping bottles with the rest of ’em.

5. Throw a sober New Year’s Eve party

Looking to have a sober New Year’s Eve? There are many fun ways to celebrate the holidays without drinking a drop. If you and some of your friends and family have given up drinking entirely, or just want a break from the booze, consider putting together your own alcohol-free shindig.

Read More: Tips For Limiting Party Drinking

Help For Controlling Your Drinking

Whether it’s New Year’s Eve or any other day of the year, many people struggle to control their alcohol consumption in a social context. If you find that binge drinking is often a problem for you, you don’t need to identify as an alcoholic to get help. Ria Health can help you reset your patterns around alcohol this holiday season, without putting your life on hold. Get in touch with a member of our team today to learn more.

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Written By:
Ria Health Team
Ria Health’s editorial team is a group of experienced copywriters, researchers, and healthcare professionals dedicated to removing stigma and improving public knowledge around alcohol use disorder. Articles written by the “Ria Team” are collaborative works completed by several members of our writing team, fact-checked and edited to a high standard of empathy and accuracy.
Reviewed By:
Evan O'Donnell
Evan O’Donnell is an NYC-based content strategist with four years’ experience writing and editing in the recovery space. He has conducted research in sound, cognition, and community building, has a background in independent music marketing, and continues to work as a composer. Evan is a deep believer in fact-based, empathic communication—within business, arts, academia, or any space where words drive action or change lives.
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