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Photo made and donated by Samuel Nothstine
Photo made and donated by Samuel Nothstine

Ideas for Celebrating without Alcohol

Alcohol use in Alaska and the U.S. is ubiquitous and is used as a ceremonial marker for many important life events. Among other things, Alaska rates in the highest ranges when you look at data for binge (high dose) drinking. A ‘binge’ for a woman* is more than 3 drinks/occasion and for a man* is more than 4 drinks/occasion.

Due to ‘community norms’, social media, alcohol industry marketing strategies, and family or friend influences alcohol may be used in an ‘at risk’ manner that can harm the person’s health and for a woman, may place her* at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy.  (An ‘at risk’ manner is more than 7 drinks/week for a woman and more than 14 drinks/week for a man).

There is growing interest in supporting those who do NOT want to consume alcohol and we endorse this idea wholeheartedly!  Alcohol use in a low risk manner can be an enjoyable experience. But many do not have this pattern as their role model and may be at increased risk for an Alcohol Use Disorder based on their family and personal history.  Other people may be in recovery and trying to avoid being in environments in which alcohol is present.  Finally, some people are becoming part of the Sober Curious Movement. A person may choose to be more mindful about how they use alcohol and some communities have ‘sober curious’ bars in which the fun social scene is maintained but no alcohol is served.  These bars usually provide terrific ‘mocktails’ and other beverages and food.

Here are some ideas to consider for promoting harm reduction and ‘no alcohol’ events:

  • Consider hosting no alcohol (also known as mocktails) drinks or a contest at your next party…the drinks without the alcohol can be pretty darn good! Click here for recipe ideas!
  • Ask your local bartender or server if non-alcohol drinks are available. Increasingly, more bars and restaurants are starting to have these and some even have a special ‘no alcohol drink’ menu but you might have to ask for it…
  • Check out these Safer Use Strategies for Alcohol harm-reduction tips developed by the University of Washington Harm Reduction Research and Treatment Lab (HaRRT)
  • During the holiday season if you happen to be pregnant, consider these strategies
  • Consider ways to participate in sober activities that involve the whole family
  • Consider knowing whether you are pregnant before drinking alcohol
  • Consider using a contraceptive method that works well for you
  • If you are trying to drink less, ask your partner or friends to decrease the amount they drink as well (i.e. alternate water or alcohol-free drinks between the alcohol-containing drinks)

*Gender-specific language

The Alaska Center for FASD acknowledges that not every person who can become pregnant identifies as a woman. Although we try to use gender-neutral language as often as possible, much of the current research available currently refers only to “women” when discussing the ability to become pregnant. When citing research, we refer to the language used in the study. In these cases, “woman” refers to someone who was assigned female at birth.