By: Jessica Bickford
This past weekend, many of us gathered together with friends and family to celebrate the Fourth of July. We often see these celebrations as a great time to kick back with a beer, glass of wine, or mixed drink.
Working in substance abuse prevention, I’d like to challenge you to rethink the role of alcohol at your next event. (This does not mean that you will necessarily eliminate its presence altogether, but take a look…) Below are simple tips to decrease the role of alcohol in your celebrations.
1) It’s easy for our children and teens to get the message that you need alcohol to have fun. When every gathering has alcohol it’s too easy for it to become normal, leading them to believe that they can increase their fun if they have alcohol.
Tip: Have festive, quality non-alcoholic drinks on hand so that youth can celebrate too and see adults choosing non-alcoholic options. (Keep reading for a recipe for homemade lemon/limeade.
2) Alcohol at gatherings is often not monitored well enough – making it easier for youth to experiment.*
Tip: If you have alcohol present – assign someone to monitor it to ensure that underage guests are not helping themselves. Check out Parentupvt.org for more great tips to connect with your teens!
3) You may have guests who are in long-term substance abuse recovery. Having an alcohol-free party allows them to celebrate without concern that they may relapse.
Tip: Check in with your guests before the party and always provide non-alcoholic options.
4) The drive home. Unless your guests are spending the night, you may be putting them and others at risk if they get behind the wheel.
Tip: Monitor your guests’ drinking and if someone is buzzed or intoxicated, arrange for them to stay or get a ride home.
5) The expense. Alcohol is expensive.
Tip: If you limit alcohol, you can invest in nicer food and have your guests talking about your party for years to come!
6) Less stress. Limiting or skipping alcohol can minimize stress. No one has to worry “Uncle Bill” drinking too much and getting out of control.
Tip: Focus on fun and being together. Provide activities that your guests enjoy, like horseshoes, cards, volleyball, etc.
Celebrate well and make safety a priority!
Bonus Recipe: Lemon/Limeade for a Crowd
Homemade Lemonade/Limeade is a hit at our celebrations! I love that I don’t have to worry about who drinks it or how much they consume. Plus, I can usually make it for under $5!
- 2 pound bag of lemons/limes
- 3 Cups of sugar (Less if you like it tart, but I’ve found this ratio to be good for a crowd)
- 3 Gallons of Water
- Fun garnish of your choice… paper straws, sliced up lemon peels, mint, berries, etc.
(Makes 3 Gallons. For less, us 3-4 lemons/limes, 1 cup sugar, 1 gallon water.)
- Juice your citrus.
- Add sugar and about ½ of the water.
- Stir until sugar is mostly dissolved.
- Add your ice, then top off with water.
- Garnish and enjoy!
* According to SAMHSA, youth who experiment with alcohol are more likely to have substance abuse dependence requiring treatment between the ages of 18-30.
Jessica Bickford has worked as Coordinator of Healthy Lamoille Valley for a little over two years, where she has enjoyed writing for their blog. Writing for Copley’s community blog is a natural extension of this experience! Healthy Lamoille Valley focuses on making healthy choices easy choices, realizing that when we have access to healthy options we are less likely to choose behaviors that are harmful. Prevention is really a lifestyle of wise choices that enable us to live life to the fullest.