Consideration for those who cannot drink alcohol due to disabilities at year-end parties

*This article is an English translation of “忘年会で、お酒を飲めない人たちへの配慮” published by HIFUMIYO TIMES on December 9, 2019.

Essential considerations for people with disabilities who cannot drink alcohol

During the end of the year and the beginning of the new year, there are more and more opportunities for people in the company to get together and drink alcohol at year-end and New Year parties. Many of them, especially those with mental illnesses, are taking strong medication continuously, and alcohol is basically prohibited. The people around them may not know what is going on and may encourage them to drink out of familiarity, but refusing the recommended alcohol is a big burden for the disabled person.
It would be nice if they could understand and say, “Okay, you don’t have to force yourself to drink,” but that never happens, and the choking continues.

“Why can’t you drink?”
“Well, what’s wrong with you?”
“Well, you should be able to drink at least a little.”

And then the painful time begins.

Medication situation for people with disabilities

People with mental disabilities often must continue taking strong medications three times daily after meals.

The medication is for life.

There are many different types of mental disorders, and the illnesses can be further classified into several types. These include schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, and developmental disorders. Developmental disorders alone are subdivided into many different types, each with its own unique characteristics, such as pervasive developmental disorder, learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, disorders of coordination and language. People with disabilities must take medication for almost their entire lives to lead a stable life.

Stabilizers, side effects, and stomach pills

In most cases, there is one main type of medication, a stabilizer, which is often combined with several adjuncts to make it more effective. In some cases, this is almost all the medication that is effective for the symptoms of mental illness itself. However, because stabilizers are highly stimulating and often have side effects, they are often taken at the same time as “side effect medications” such as anti-Parkinson’s drug. In addition, gastric medicine is sometimes used to prevent stomach damage. This can result in taking three to five or even more pills in one meal alone.

Alcohol and the mentally ill

We all remember that we should not take the medicine prescribed for a cold with alcohol.

Drowsiness from tranquilizers

We have all had the experience of taking a cold medicine and then getting drowsy at work. The drowsiness caused by tranquilizers is many times stronger than that of cold medicine. If you’re not used to taking them, it’s not something you can stay awake for. One of the reasons why people with mental illnesses usually feel sleepy and show slow reactions is that their bodies are weakened by the strong medication. For example, if you are a high school student and develop the disease, it may be difficult to continue taking six classes packed into one day for three years.

Considerations for Participants

In such a situation, how would you feel if your senior or boss started saying things like, “Why can’t you drink?” “Well, what’s wrong with you?” “Oh no, you should be able to drink at least a little.” You may be tempted to say, “I’m sick of it, please stop.” I’ve been there, so I know what it feels like to have no way out. Since then, many medications with less side effects have been developed, but at the same time, there are people who fall into a deep coma when they drink alcohol, so forcing someone to drink is like torture. It is better not to take this problem too lightly.


Even if there is no specific reason why a person cannot drink alcohol because he or she is disabled and taking medication, the person should be free to decide whether to drink alcohol there of his or her own free will. You should never encourage someone to drink if they have already indicated that they do not want to.

People with disabilities who cannot drink alcohol

This is especially true for people with disabilities who are under strict medication control. As interest in people with disabilities has increased over the past few years, knowledge about them and disability itself has slowly begun to spread to the public. Some people are becoming more knowledgeable about medications, alcohol consumption, rest and sleep. However, most people are still unaware of the details of the situation.

Familiarity is something that should be built while communicating well when one is clear-headed and sober. There is no need to choose a time when drinking alcohol will impair your judgment. To prevent the increasing number of year-end parties from bothering people with disabilities who work in areas that have nothing to do with their work performance itself, we need to pay deeper attention to the circumstances of people with disabilities who cannot drink alcohol.

日本語版:「忘年会で、障害的にお酒を飲めない人たちへの配慮」HIFUMIYO TIMES



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