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November 24th, 2008
03:24 PM ET

Managing holiday party behavior

By Jen Pifer
CNN Medical Senior Producer

I love the television show "The Office." In one of my favorite episodes, Dunder Mifflin has its annual holiday party. The party ends up being a dud, so the boss, Michael Scott, brings in booze. Pam Beesly, the receptionist, is skeptical. "You realize that we can't serve liquor at the party?" she says. Michael replies, "Yeah, I know. Dammit. Stupid corporate wet blankets. Like booze ever killed anybody."

The party gets crazy. People get drunk. People make out. The episode ends with Meredith, one of the employees, walking into Michael's office with no shirt.

Chances are you will attend a holiday party in the next few weeks. And according to a recent survey, many of these parties get out of control. Caron Treatment Centers works with people who have drug or alcohol problems. It recently conducted a survey that found 64 percent of people who attend holiday work parties witness alcohol-induced “bad behaviors” such as flirting with co-workers, starting fights and drunken driving. And with all the bad news recently, experts say overimbibing may only get worse. "When alcohol prompts bad behavior at holiday celebrations, that can indicate something more serious is lurking," says Harris Stratyner, regional vice president of Caron Treatment Centers. "The state of the world today only increases vulnerability to holiday alcohol abuse and longer-term problems."

So what can you do to deal with holiday party peer pressure? Experts say if you do choose to drink, make sure you do it on a full stomach and that you alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones. Also, it's smart to have a designated driver, even if you plan to just have a couple of drinks.

I want to know what you think: do you think holiday parties encourage people to over-indulge? Do you have a strategy when it comes to holiday parties? Have you ever witnessed bad behavior at an office party?

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