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Alcohol and Health

Your Guide to a Healthy National Happy Hour Day

November 22, 2023
18 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
November 22, 2023
18 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
November 22, 2023
18 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
November 22, 2023
18 min read
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Reframe Content Team
November 22, 2023
18 min read

It’s 5 o’clock on a Friday, you’ve just left the office, and it’s time for your favorite part of the week: happy hour! You head to the local bar and order a pint, eager to catch up with colleagues and other working professionals in the city. One pint becomes two, then three, and before you know it, you’ve lost count. Somehow, you make it home, and head to the bar again the following week to do it all again. It’s a common scenario. Happy hour, ironically, can become anything but happy when we aren’t intentional about our drinking habits. 

Many of us are so used to this societal custom that we seldom stop to think about it: the history of happy hour, the potential implications for our health (such as binge drinking), and how we can celebrate in ways that support our well-being. This information is crucial for occasions such as National Happy Hour Day, which falls on November 12th each year. 

If you’re a happy hour enthusiast looking to change your relationship with alcohol, keep reading to learn more about this tradition. You’ll also discover ways to enjoy happy hour without binge drinking.

The History of Happy Hour

“Happy hour,” as we know it today, has a rich and varied history that stretches back to the early 20th century. Originating as a naval term, happy hour was initially a period set aside for entertainment and relaxation on military ships. This practice was a vital morale booster for sailors who spent long months at sea. The idea was to break the monotony of their daily routine with various forms of entertainment, from boxing matches to music performances.

As the concept extended beyond naval life into civilian society, happy hour underwent a significant transformation. By the Prohibition era in the U.S. (1920-1933), the term began to take on its modern connotation. Illegal speakeasies and underground bars offered happy hours as a way to attract customers before the more legitimate evening dining hours. These events were often characterized by illegal alcohol consumption and a spirit of rebellious socializing.

Post-Prohibition, the concept of happy hour entered mainstream culture. Bars and restaurants adopted it, offering discounted drinks and appetizers in the late afternoon and early evening. This shift was not just about economics; it reflected a changing societal attitude towards leisure and socialization. The period after World War II saw a significant rise in consumerism and leisure culture in the United States and many parts of the world. Happy hour became a symbol of relaxation and camaraderie, a time for colleagues to unwind after work and for friends to gather.

Today, happy hour remains a staple of social culture in many countries. It symbolizes a time of day when people can disconnect from their work responsibilities and engage in social interaction, often accompanied by drinks and food. Happy hour has become a commonly depicted phenomenon in movies, TV shows, and even advertisements. And after the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of happy hour took on a new meaning, with virtual happy hours becoming the norm for many workplaces and professionals. Furthermore, a 2022 poll found that 38% of 2,000 respondents wished happy hours were longer — a total of three hours. 

It’s clear that happy hour has become an emotional aspect of our culture. However, like many aspects of our culture, it’s essential that we embrace it in a way that serves our best interest. 

When Does Happy Hour Start?

There’s no fixed time for happy hour. It’s usually observed by bars and restaurants in the late afternoon or early evening. For many, this period serves as a critical juncture in their daily routine, offering a chance to decompress, reflect, and engage in social interaction. However, as we’ll later discuss, happy hour also has its share of downsides, which include binge drinking or using alcohol to cope with unhealthy emotions. 

Rather than an excuse for excessive drinking, happy hour can be reimagined as a time for mindful drinking practices. This involves being conscious of our alcohol intake, choosing quality over quantity, and appreciating the social and gustatory aspects of drinking, rather than focusing solely on the alcohol itself. It's also an ideal moment to incorporate non-alcoholic options, highlighting that the essence of happy hour lies in the social experience and the unwind factor, not necessarily in the drinks consumed. This redefined approach to happy hour can contribute significantly to a healthier lifestyle, emphasizing balance and well-being in both social and personal contexts.

Alcohol's Impact on the Kidneys

When Is National Happy Hour Day 2024?

National Happy Hour Day, observed every year on November 12th, has evolved into more than just a day of drink specials and social gatherings. It stands as a commemoration of the long-standing tradition of happy hour, a cultural phenomenon deeply ingrained in social customs globally. With the sober curious movement underway, this day takes on an even more significant role, becoming a platform to advocate for a balanced and mindful approach to alcohol consumption.

This day's relevance is underscored by statistics showing the impact of drinking habits on society. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 3 million deaths globally are related to harmful use of alcohol each year, which accounts for 5.3% of all deaths. Furthermore, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that in the United States, an estimated 140,000 people (approximately 97,000 men and 43,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the country.

National Happy Hour Day promotes awareness around these stark realities. It encourages a shift from viewing happy hour solely as an occasion for alcohol consumption to recognizing it as a time for social connection and relaxation. This perspective is vital in a time where mental health issues are on the rise. The American Psychological Association highlights the link between heavy alcohol use and mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety, making the need for balanced drinking practices more pertinent.

On this day, people and establishments are encouraged to foster environments that support mindful drinking. This includes offering a variety of non-alcoholic alternatives, promoting social activities that do not center around alcohol, and creating awareness about the risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption.

In doing so, National Happy Hour Day becomes more than a celebration; it transforms into an educational and health-promoting event on a global scale.

How To Avoid Binge Drinking on National Happy Hour Day

Binge drinking, often associated with happy hour, is a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after four drinks for women and five for men in about two hours. Avoiding binge drinking is crucial for physical and mental well-being.

To avoid binge drinking on National Happy Hour Day (or any day!), here’s what you can do: 

  • Set a personal limit. Before heading out, decide on a fixed number of drinks and stick to it. This preemptive decision-making allows you to maintain control over your alcohol intake. Consider finding an accountability, such as a fellow alcohol-conscious or alcohol-free friend, to help you stick to your limits. You can even set personal drink limits through the Reframe app’s drink tracker, and enable notifications that remind you to log your daily drinks. 
  • Alternate with non-alcoholic beverages. For every alcoholic drink, have a glass of water or a non-alcoholic alternative. This habit not only keeps you hydrated but also slows down your drinking pace. There are plenty of delicious mocktail options you can try, from alcohol-free versions of margaritas and Bloody Marys to fruity concoctions such as strawberry-basil lemonade. You can even keep it simple and have sparkling water, herbal tea, or juice. Avoid dehydrating alcohol-free beverages, such as soda, energy drinks, coffee, or caffeinated teas, as these can worsen the effects of alcohol.
  • Choose quality over quantity. Opt for a drink you truly enjoy rather than drinking multiple beverages for the sake of it. Savoring a drink can enhance the experience and reduce the urge to overindulge. This can also save money, as the money you spend on alcohol — especially while out at bars, nightclubs, or restaurants — can add up quickly. Furthermore, by avoiding binge drinking, you’ll also stave off several health risks, from potential cardiovascular issues to mental health conditions. 
  • Engage in mindful drinking. Mindfulness can be applied to our drinking behaviors, too! What does this look like? Start by being present with your drink. Notice the flavor, the texture, and how it makes you feel. Mindfulness can transform drinking from a mindless habit to a conscious choice. Once you learn to connect with your body in this way, you’ll have an easier time understanding when you’ve reached your limits and how alcohol impacts your body. You can even supplement your mindful drinking practice with mindfulness meditation. We have several guided sessions on the Reframe app
  • Plan activities beyond drinking. Who said happy hour only has to involve drinking? Organize or participate in activities that don't center around alcohol. This could include games, dancing, or engaging conversations, which provide enjoyment without the need for excessive drinking. You can even reap the benefits of nature by heading out for a hike or bike ride, instead. The more you expand your hobbies and leisure activities beyond alcohol, the easier it’ll be to choose these options. 
  • Seek supportive company. Surround yourself with friends who respect your choice to drink responsibly. Supportive company can significantly influence your drinking habits. If you’re struggling to find like-minded people, consider looking through Reframe’s anonymous forum. Here you’ll find a global community of people who know what it’s like to make a major lifestyle shift such as cutting back on or quitting alcohol.
  • Know your “why.” Reflect on your reasons for moderating your drinking. Whether it's for health, financial, or personal reasons, keeping your “why” in mind can be a powerful motivator. It can even help to write it down and keep it somewhere you’ll see frequently: your bathroom mirror, your nightstand, your work cubicle, your refrigerator. The more you see your “why,” the more motivated you’ll be to keep moving on when times are tough. 

National Happy Hour Day: The Takeaways

National Happy Hour Day is more than an excuse for a drink; it's a chance to redefine our relationship with alcohol. By adopting healthier habits, we open the door to enjoying these moments more fully, with a clear mind and a focus on what truly matters: connections, conversations, and memories. Though happy hour is deeply ingrained in our culture — and can often result in binge drinking — it’s important that we’re mindful about the ways it shows up for us. 

Additionally, we can celebrate happy hour in alcohol-free ways, which can open us up to the world of booze-free fun and socializing. 

This National Happy Hour Day 2024, let's embrace a healthier, happier way of celebrating.

Summary FAQs

1. What is the significance of National Happy Hour Day?

National Happy Hour Day, celebrated annually on November 12th, is a day to acknowledge the social and cultural aspects of happy hour. It's an opportunity to promote a balanced approach to alcohol consumption and emphasize the importance of responsible drinking and mental health.

2. How can I set a personal limit for drinking on National Happy Hour Day?

Decide on a fixed number of drinks before the festivities begin and commit to sticking to this limit. This proactive approach helps in maintaining control over your alcohol intake.

3. What are some strategies to avoid binge drinking during happy hour?

To avoid binge drinking, alternate alcoholic drinks with water or non-alcoholic beverages, choose quality drinks over quantity, engage in mindful drinking, and participate in activities that don’t center around alcohol.

4. How can I enjoy happy hour without overindulging in alcohol?

Opt for quality drinks that you genuinely enjoy and savor them, participate in non-alcoholic activities, and surround yourself with friends who support your choice to drink responsibly.

5. What does mindful drinking entail?

Mindful drinking involves being present and aware while drinking. It means paying attention to the flavor, texture, and your feelings towards the drink, transforming it from a mindless habit to a conscious choice.

6. Why is it important to have activities beyond drinking during happy hour?

Having activities that don’t revolve around alcohol provides enjoyment and social interaction without the need for excessive drinking, promoting a healthier and more inclusive environment.

7. What should I keep in mind to maintain healthy drinking habits?

Remember your personal reasons for moderating your drinking, such as health, financial, or personal motives. Keeping these reasons in mind can serve as a powerful motivator to maintain healthy drinking habits.

Avoid Happy Hour Binge Drinking With Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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