The annual office party season leads many people to overindulge on alcohol and leads to their work reputation being harmed or even causes them to lose their jobs.

For most people, an office party is an opportunity to temporarily break from the formalities of the work environment.  Away from work pressures, staff bond in a more relaxed and casual manner and have a good time getting into the holiday spirit.

For others who are heavy drinkers or alcoholics, the office party will follow them for many years to come as their colleagues witness their outlandish behavior.  Often this becomes a funny office story that follows them until they leave but many people have said they were skipped promotion and bonuses, were fired, and even arrested!

Harley Street addiction counsellor Mark Dempster outlines dangers at office parties and tips on how to avoid them.


Top Five Dangers at Office Parties and How to Avoid Them

 Problem 1 – You are expected to show up and play your part but free drinks that keep getting put in your hand are like ticking time-bombs. You are trapped into feeling obligated to attend but know it could also be a disaster.

Solution: Be aware of your surroundings and which colleagues might tempt you into taking it too far.  Try to get a seat away from the action and have exit strategies ready like ‘Need to go to bathroom’ or ‘Call from wife/family/etc’ can get you quickly out of most situations.


Problem 2-  Feeling like the odd one out who is not drinking at a high spirited Christmas party. The peer pressure to drink can lead to overindulging or relapse.

Solution: Develop assertive skills to help with social/peer pressure.  Learn and practice assertiveness to create healthy boundaries with friends, family, and colleagues. Another tip is to always have a glass in hand with, for example, grape juice in a wine glass.  This will stop others offering you another drink and you’ll blend into the environment.


Problem 3 – Dealing with strong cravings to pick up a drink. It looks so attractive, everyone else is doing it and having fun, why shouldn’t I enjoy this night like they are too?

Solution: Learn urge management techniques to help you deal with cravings as they arise.  These reinforce a belief pattern that you don’t have to drink on a thought, urge or craving.


Problem 4 – Dealing with Euphoric Recall where drinking was the answer to dealing with social situations by beating shyness and inhibition.

Solution:  Exercise is a healthy and fast way to providing confidence and self- esteem. The release of dopamine also improves your mood and self-image. Even 15 minutes a day goes a long way.


Problem 5 – You are planning to drink at the office party and have trouble with your alcohol intake.

Solution: When ordering your wine or beer, order an additional large glass of water or juice at the same time.  When you finish both drinks you can order again.  This is riskier than not drinking at all but it is a realistic tip that helps those who will be drinking.