Drinking At Holiday Work Parties

A festive work party is a fun way to celebrate the season with your colleagues. However, you may want to take it easy on the holiday spirits even if you are off the clock. Here are some tips.

A Work Party is Still a Company Event

Holiday parties with friends differ from work celebrations with colleagues. Your work can serve alcohol at its holiday festivities, even if your company has an alcohol- and drug-free workplace policy.1 It’s important to remember, even if it’s after work hours, you are still around your co-workers at a work-hosted event. As CalChamber employment law expert Matthew Roberts says, “it’s not where you are, it’s who you are with” that matters. 1

A 2018 study published in the New York Post found that 1 in 3 people have “done something they regret at an office party” 2

Alcohol can affect our mood and behavior, leading us to act in ways that are inappropriate for a company event. Sexual harassment claims can arise or people can become injured, leading to the company potentially being liable. Other consequences of drinking include co-worker hookups, drunk driving, embarrassing dancing, and getting sick from over-indulgence. 2,3

For individuals with alcohol use disorders or other drug use disorders, being at a work event with alcohol can be a triggering situation and potentially lead to relapse.

Don’t Bring a Friend That Can Get You in Trouble

If you can bring a guest, make sure it’s not someone who will get out of control. Your guest represents you, and it is important that they also maintain professionalism at your company holiday party. On the other hand, bringing a supportive friend to a work party can be beneficial. A friend can help you hold yourself accountable and encourage you to stay on track with your sobriety goals. Make sure you communicate your needs to anyone you are bringing so they know what to expect and how to behave at your company event. Local AA chapters can also offer support and community.

Set a Drink Maximum Or Abstain From Alcohol

Plan how much you are going to drink. Make sure you have a safe ride home if you do plan on drinking. Remember, it is illegal to drive a car if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% of higher for people age 21+ and if you have any alcohol in your system and are under the age of 21.

The number of drinks needed to reach a BAC of 0.08% depends on multiple factors including body weight and gender. If you do plan on drinking at your work event and driving yourself home, make sure you know your drink maximum to be a safe driver. Or, play it safe and stick with non-alcoholic beverages.4

If you are bringing a friend, discuss your drink maximum with them beforehand to establish boundaries. This can help keep you accountable and help prevent over-drinking.

Dangers of Binge Drinking

Anywhere alcohol is present, binge drinking can occur, even a work party. Binge drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent—or 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter—or higher.” This is around 5 or more drinks for a man and 4 or more drinks for a woman in a two-hour period or so (although this will vary depending on each individual).5

Binge drinking even once can have dangerous consequences that go beyond just being embarrassed at work. The consequences of binge drinking can include 5:

  • Blackouts.
  • Alcohol poisoning (alcohol overdose).
  • Unsafe sexual behavior.
  • Falls, burns, car crashes, and drownings.
  • Compromised immune system.

Greenhouse Treatment Center offers drug and alcohol addiction rehab in the Dallas-Ft Worth area. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol misuse, reach out to our compassionate admissions navigators today.

They are available 24/7 at to answer questions about how to start the admissions process, how to pay for addiction treatment, what to expect, types of rehab available, and any other questions you may have.

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