Booze on holidays: 5 things you need to know before drinking

Holiday drinking: What exactly is a holiday, then? In Britain, it would appear, the days leading up to Christmas and New Year are marked by a reversal of official drinking guidelines. We’ve long been told by the government that you shouldn’t drink more than 14 units of alcohol in one sitting, but over the summer its Alcohol Working Group published a paper explaining that, technically, they’d now reverse those limits. It turns out that the ABV value is calculated after the drink is drunk and, the authors explain, “claims of 15 units per person or more are redundant.” Put another way, if you keep your stomach empty enough, you might well avoid actually hitting the 14 or 10 units, as their formula dictates, and you might even end up knocking back more than the 15. So, why is this? Well, on the one hand, festive drinking causes an enormous spike in alcohol consumption, given the plethora of cold drinks you’ll find on offer.

But, on the other, the alcohol intake rises because drinkers are typically encouraged to continue drinking well after the day’s peak has passed. The Working Group’s report recommends that all new and introduced legislation should discourage people from trying to drink more than they can actually enjoy, so this might explain the reversal of their earlier recommended limits. But what of all that alcohol you’re going to consume? How much is not only something to consider – but a bit of a pain, too, in that the more alcohol you consume the more insulin you take in and the less insulin is released, leading to high blood pressure, increased risk of liver damage and – along with traffic accidents and alcohol-related illnesses like cirrhosis – the kind of things that cut short a holiday. So how do you tell what a binge is? Here are five signs to spot before you pass out, or worse.

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