Expert talks holidays and alcoholism triggers

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)- Chances are you might be doing a little 'tippin' & sippin' this holiday but how do you know when it's more than  social drinking?  What are the triggers for alcoholism?

Stephaninie Timko, Clinical Therapist with SSM Behavioral Health at Depaul tells us who is at risk this time of year.

Things to remembers:

• Have an escape plan by bringing your own vehicle or figure out the available public transportation near the holiday event that will enable you to leave if you are feeling tempted to drink or uncomfortable.

• Let someone whom you trust at the holiday event know that you may need additional support during this occasion or time of year.

• Find a tasty non-alcoholic beverage you can drink that will give you something to hold and may prevent people from offering you an alcoholic drink.

• Come up with a standard response as to why you are not drinking that may vary depending on the type of holiday event and if you want those in attendance to know you are sober: "I don't drink anymore, I am on medication and cannot have alcohol, I am the designated driver tonight," etc.

• Be choosy about the holiday events that you attend and avoid "people pleasing" by saying "yes" to events that you don't need to nor don't want to attend.

• Take care of yourself prior to these events: get enough sleep, eat regularly, exercise, relax, etc.

• Find new holiday activities and traditions that you may never have tried in the past which do not involve drinking alcohol (volunteer at a soup kitchen, go ice skating, have a sober get-together and gift exchange, see a movie, take a trip, etc.)

• Remember to create structure for yourself if you have time off (volunteer, exercise, make plans, got to mutual-help group meetings, therapy, etc.).

• Work extra hours if needed in order to distract yourself..

• Put your sobriety first and realize that others may not understand what this entails, but that it is your number one priority.

• Attend extra mutual-help group meetings during this season (i.e., A.A. has "alcathons" that involve 24 hours of meetings, food, socializing at designated locations on Thanksgiving Eve, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

For more information visit: www.ssmhealth.com/behavioralhealth