To Have A Drink Or Not? Navigating Holiday Drinking

 ADHD Weekly 2017-11-16

Join the discussion.

Are you looking forward to holiday celebrations? An annual party at work or get together with friends and family? Chances are, these gatherings will have beer, wine, or mixed drinks as options from a bar or kitchen counter. When you are also coping with the symptoms of ADHD, having a plan ahead of time helps to make drinking choices that are best for you.

Moderate drinking is part of our culture. Some people choose not to imbibe at all, based on health, family history, medication interactions, or religious or philosophical ideals. Women who are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant should not drink, along with those who are designated drivers, and no one under the age of 21 should drink (plus, it’s the law). When you are also coping with impulsivity, poor time management skills, or just want to feel more relaxed it can lead to poor choices concerning alcohol.

How can you prepare for social situations where there is moderate drinking? We took a look at what research and experts are saying.

Moderate alcohol use and medication for ADHD

If you use medication as part of your treatment plan, you need to be aware of how one of the above drinks could interact with your medication. You should also talk with your doctor about combining moderate drinking and medication use; if your doctor is not available, the pharmacist who fills your prescription can also discuss known possible interactions. Researchers do see an increase in side effects when medication and alcohol are combined, though they are minimal. However, it’s still enough to exercise caution.

David W. Goodman, MD, an assistant psychiatry professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and director of the Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Center of Maryland, says his patients have felt ill or uncomfortable the day after having a couple of drinks because of the interaction of medication and alcohol. Dr. Goodman is a former a member of the CHADD Board of Directors.

Women who are pregnant should not drink at all because of a risk of fetal alcohol syndrome and other birth defects to their developing baby, including ADHD. Those who have had trouble controlling the amount they drink or are in recovery from alcohol or another substance should also refrain from drinking. 

If you have questions about your use of alcohol, bring them up with your doctor who can guide you best. Though a very common part of our diet, alcohol is still a drug and should be treated with caution when deciding to partake.

“Learning moderation, if possible, is key,” says Edward Hallowell, MD, a psychiatrist and author on ADHD. “Otherwise abstinence becomes the rule.”

More information on moderate drinking:

Do you choose to manage alcohol consumption during the holidays or do you choose to forgo it altogether? Both are good choices; which is best for you?

Should you have a drink at the office party or among family and friends this holiday season? ADHD experts suggest limiting or even abstaining altogether.