Memorial Day is just around the corner! Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States dedicated to honoring and mourning the military personnel who have died in the performance of their military duties while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It is a time for paying our respects and celebrating the freedoms we have been given by those who have served. Celebrating our freedom is a great way to start the summer and enjoy the warm weather. But, does it also have to be characterized by alcohol consumption? In 2019, Memorial Day was the second-biggest holiday for alcohol consumption.

Alcohol and Holidays:

On average, American alcohol consumption increases by 100% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day all see increases in consumption of alcohol. Why are we consuming so much more alcohol on the holidays?

Both summer and winter holidays come with more social gatherings and public events. These behaviors are only increasing as pandemic restrictions are removed. The consumption of alcohol at social events is perceived as the “norm” and has inspired advertisements in companies such as Forbes magazine who recently published the “Ten Reasons to Drink during the Holidays.” Societal expectations, the desire to “loosen up” or for some, the holiday loneliness and stress all can contribute to alcohol consumption. Alcohol can also be a coping mechanism for challenging family dynamics. It is also how the alcohol is consumed. Forbes writes that “It’s hardly surprising that many people indulge in seasonal binge-drinking.” Binge drinking is defined as having five drinks for men and four drinks for women in a 2-hour time frame. Excessive consumption of alcohol can result in an increase in ones’ blood alcohol level. In most US states, 0.08 percent is considered the legal limit for drinking and driving.

Who else is Affected?

Naturally, underage drinking is not excused from taking a holiday. If overall consumption is higher on the holidays, how does that affect our youth? The number of adolescents admitted to hospital emergency rooms with alcohol-related injuries due to underage drinking increases by 11 percent during Memorial Day Weekend[CS1] . Another area of concern is impaired driving. With a large uptick in traffic and alcohol consumption, it is no surprise that Memorial Day can be one of the most dangerous days of the year.

What to do?

With this ever-growing issue around our holidays, how do we begin to address it? Firstly, make a plan. Decide who is driving, how much you plan to consume, etc. Secondly, host events without alcohol! Alcohol is not a prerequisite for fun, plus nursing or pregnant mothers, those in recovery, and people who simply prefer not to drink[CS2] will appreciate the event. Thirdly and finally, remember who is watching. The youth model what they see adults doing, and if the adults in their lives are irresponsible and reckless with consumption… chances are they will model that behavior. The same can be said with being responsible and making smart choices. This Memorial Day, try ditching the booze and the blues, and be content with the celebration you choose! 

Holiday Binge Drinking: Statistics & Data (alcohol.org)

The Truth About Holiday Spirits | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (nih.gov)

Americans double their drinking during the holidays; dampen work productivity (beveragedaily.com)


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