New Year's Eve parties and alcohol can be a deadly combination, officials with SalusCare, Inc., warned today.
"Alcohol consumption typically peaks during the holiday season. We're cautioning everyone to exercise good judgment and to be responsible if they choose to drink. There are many thoughtful options available to partygoers," said Kevin B. Lewis, SalusCare chief executive officer.
December also is Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month and law enforcement will be on the alert for residents who drink and drive to better protect citizens.
More than half of all traffic fatalities involve alcohol, according to the Lee County Sheriff's Department. Lewis said alcohol abuse is the number one substance use issue in Lee County and Florida due to its prevalence.
"Alcohol is a drug that depresses the central nervous system and causes sleepiness, lack of coordination and impairs judgment," Lewis said. "These effects are all harmful to our driving abilities."
In Florida, the illegal blood-alcohol level is .08 or higher.
"Designated Driver's Delight"
2 1/2 oz. orange juice
1 1/4 oz. pineapple juice
1 1/4 oz. cranberry juice
2 scoops vanilla ice cream
3-4 frozen strawberries
Mix in a blender until smooth. Serve in a hurricane glass with an orange slide and a strawberry.
Fresh brewed coffee
Pour coffee into a mug and stir in two sugar cubes and a dash of cinnamon. Top with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.
2 oz. orange or grapefruit juice
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. simple syrup*
Fill a 10-12 oz. glass with ice. Add ingredients above and then fill with club soda. Garnish with orange slide and cherry.
* HINT: Simple Syrup - In a saucepan, combine 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil gently for 5 minutes. Makes about 2 cups. Will keep 6 months in the refrigerator.
5 oz. grapefruit juice
1 oz. grenadine
2 oz. pina colada mix
Splash of seltzer
Blend ingredients, serve over ice, garnish with pineapple and cherries.
2 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup instant coffee
2 cups milk, chilled
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
shaved, unsweetened chocolate
In a small bowl with electric mixer at high speed, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar until stiff peaks form. In large bowl, beat egg yolks until lemon colored. Gradually beat in coffee, salt, vanilla, milk and 3/4 cup water. Stir in egg-white mixture and whipped cream. Mix well. Serve well chilled, with chocolate sprinkled over each serving. Makes 12 servings.
"Red Delicious Punch"
Pour 2 bottles of nonalcoholic sparkling cider into a punch bowl. Mix in 1 quart of cranberry juice. Float a frozen ice ring and garnish with sprigs of mint.
For each serving, half fill a large wine glass with chilled white grape juice. Stir in 1 tbsp. nonalcoholic grenadine syrup. Fill with cold raspberry ginger ale.
"New Year's Eve Kiss"
Pour 2 oz. passion fruit juice in a champagne flute. Fill with club soda.
-Source: SalusCare, Inc., National Commission Against Drunk Driving, National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month Coalition.
"A person who weighs 140 pounds will reach that limit with three drinks in an hour. Because a person may not feel drunk, they may not realize that their reaction time and driving skills are measurably impaired," Lewis said. "Not eating properly, interaction with prescription and over the counter medications, and fatigue can all enhance the effect of alcohol on an individual.
Lewis said those hosting parties must take responsibility for their guests. That means having non-alcoholic beverages on hand for both designated drivers and drinkers, and plenty of food to reduce the absorption rate of alcohol into the system.
"Be sure and offer non-alcoholic alternatives to your friends who may attend a party, and remember that a good host won't let a guest drive away under the influence. Having more non-salty snacks can be helpful, and be aware that simply offering coffee doesn't alter one's state of intoxication. It may simply wake up a person who's under the influence," Lewis offered.
Particularly vulnerable during this time of year may be adolescents with holiday time on their hands and the elderly who often feel isolated or depressed, but alcohol is an equal opportunity issue, Lewis added.
"All of us knowing persons in these categories need to pay special attention and find healthy holiday alternatives," he said.
Here are some tips for enjoying safe holiday parties for both guests and hosts follow, as well as recipes for alcohol-free mocktails.
About Alcohol Consumption:
A 12-ounce can of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, and a 1.5-ounce shot of 80 proof hard liquor all contain the same amount of alcohol. Coffee, cold showers and exercise do not quicken sobriety. Each one-half ounce of alcohol takes the average body about one hour to process and eliminate. Only passage of time will free the body from the effects of alcohol.
If the choice is made to drink at a New Year's party:
1. Eat before drinking. Food in the stomach will slow down the rate of alcohol absorption into the bloodstream.
2. Remember that fatigue and medications can impact how you respond to alcohol. Either of these can dramatically enhance the effect alcohol has on the drinker.
3. Drink slowly, sip the drink and space drinks.
4. Set a limit; don't exceed it!
5. Stop while still in control.
6. Don't let friends drive drunk. If you have not drank any alcohol, drive your friend home or offer to call him or her a cab.
7. Do not drive after drinking. Take turns being a designated non-drinking responsible driver.
-Source: SalusCare, Inc., and Americans for a Drug-Free America
If You Are Hosting a New Year's Eve Party With Alcohol:
1. Always serve food. Protein-based items such as cheese, shrimp cocktails, spareribs, and pizza inhibit the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. Avoid thirst-provoking appetizers such as chips, pretzels, or other salty snacks.
2. Serve food in waves to encourage frequent return trips back to the table. Or, pass food on trays circulated around the room.
3. Remember that unique and interesting foods encourage consumption.
4. Plan the event so that the focus is on people or events, and not on drinking. Plan an interesting program, social activity, or other entertainment.
5. If guests are charged a fee, separate the price of admission or food from the cost of the drinks. Do not force the non-drinkers to share the cost of alcoholic beverages.
6. Sign no contract with a caterer requiring a minimum amount of sales - such contracts might encourage excessive drinking.
7. Offer non-alcoholic beverages. Serve alcoholic drinks only upon request. Always have non-alcoholic beverages available for mixing as well as drinking.
8. If preparing alcoholic punch, use a non-carbonated base like fruit juice. Alcohol is absorbed faster into bloodstream with a carbonated base.
9. Control the flow of liquor by avoiding self-service bars.
10. Have bartenders adhere to strict serving guidelines: a) Measure correct amounts of liquor in drinks - no doubles, b) Do not serve individuals who appear to be impaired, c) Never serve minors.
11. Close the bar one hour before the end of the party and have non-alcoholic beverages (i.e., coffee, tea, soft drinks, and dessert) available at that time.
12. If a guest has been drinking, offer to drive him or her home - or call a cab. Keep numbers of several cab companies around.
13. Know what "safe ride" programs are available in your area. Recruit people ahead of time who will not be drinking to help you make sure everyone has a safe ride home. Half of all fatal car accidents in Southwest Florida involve alcohol.
-Source: SalusCare, Inc., Office for Substance Abuse Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Highway Traffic Administration of the Department of Transportation