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How to combat alcohol addiction this New Year's Eve

The holidays can be a difficult time for those battling addiction.

IOWA, USA — There have been plenty of lessons learned during the pandemic, but here's one that bears repeating: Iowans love their liquor. 

How much, exactly? In fiscal year 2021, over $400 million worth of alcohol was sold in the state. And with New Year's Eve right around the corner, there will be champagne popping across the state. 

For people struggling with addiction, that can be hard to deal with.

"During the holidays, how do we communicate that to our family and friends, that we've got something that we're working through, or actually just even communicating to ourselves that larger agenda?" said Dr. Scott Terry, Clinical & Executive Director of the Ardent Counseling Center.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, between 15 and 20% of Iowans that drink alcohol may have a problem with dependency. Standards for what is considered binge drinking are different between men and women, but they share a common problem: not all drinks are created equal. 

"When you're in this mode of craft beers and other things where the alcohol content is higher, it's really important that Iowans know that, hey, one beer may not be equal to one drink, that you may actually be consuming two or three drinks," said Eric Preuss, Director of Your Life Iowa, which provides counseling for those dealing with alcohol addiction.

So how can Iowans celebrate the new year without over-indulging? 

Preuss encourages you to communicate with the people you're celebrating with and make your expectations clear early.

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"If I know there's going to be drinking, I'm going to have no more than two drinks that night," Preuss said. "And you're going to tell for your friends and whoever serving you your limits too, because bad things happen."

Finally, if you feel like you need to talk to a friend or loved one about their drinking, here's some advice: don't initiate the conversation while the person is drinking, and don't try to dance around what might be an uncomfortable topic.

"'When I saw your drinking last night, I felt really uncomfortable around you, I was worried, I was concerned about you. And I just need to share that with you.' It's that easy," Preuss said.

The most at-risk for alcohol abuse are the very young, anyone under 21, and the elderly, anyone over 55. In both cases, it's biological: bodies just can't handle as much liquor as a person at their physical prime, and it means that they are much more likely to get sick, or worse, if they drink too much.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol problems, visit YourLifeIowa.org, call 855-581-8111 or text 855-895-8398. 

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