With the holidays come family traditions, decadent treats and, of course, holiday parties. And where there are holiday parties, there is usually a steady flow of alcohol. During this time of year, drinking becomes a socially acceptable, if not expected, part of the celebrations. Not surprisingly, both alcohol sales and drunk driving accidents skyrocket.

In these next few weeks, a lot of people will drink who would ordinarily abstain, and more serious problems arise for people who have spent the rest of the year struggling to keep their drinking under control. Here are five signs alcohol is detracting from the fun rather than making your holiday merry and bright:

#1 Using Alcohol to Cope with the Stress of the Season

When alcohol stops being a fun way to mingle at the holiday party and becomes the focus of every special occasion or the only way you can cope with the stress of the season, it’s time to reassess the role alcohol is playing in your holiday celebrations. Although alcohol may seem to relax you or help you forget your problems, the effects are short-lived. As a depressant, alcohol use actually amplifies stress in the long term.

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