NSW Health is urging people to take care of themselves and their friends and plan ahead when going out to celebrate this New Year’s Eve and over the festive season.
Although usually a time for celebration and socialising with friends and family, Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve are too often marred by people not drinking responsibly, sometimes leading to anti-social behaviour and violence.
NSW Health’s Director of the Centre for Population Health, Dr Jo Mitchell said over-indulgence can result in an avoidable trip to hospital.
“NSW Health data shows Christmas and New Year’s Eve is a peak time for acute alcohol intoxication with more than a threefold increase in the number of people presenting for treatment in Emergency Departments,” said Dr Mitchell.
“More than one in five (22 percent) of all hospitalisations of young people aged 15-24 years old are alcohol-related,” she said.
NSW Health advises people that moderation is key this festive season to ensure they kick off 2015 in the best health possible.
“Time your drinks and alternate with non-alcoholic drinks such as tap water, soda water, mineral water and diet soft-drinks,” said Dr Mitchell.
“Also be sure to plan ahead and organise how you will travel home safely if you are planning to have a drink – and help your friends into a taxi or escort them home if they have drunk too much alcohol. Never leave a drunk friend alone and if you are leaving, tell your friends where you are going and who with,” she said.
Dr Mitchell also said partygoers should be aware of the potential dangers of drink spiking when they are socialising in bars, pubs and clubs.
“Drink spiking exposes people to dangerous situations such as assault, robbery, sexual assault, unsafe sex and the health effects of unknown drugs,” said Dr Mitchell.
To prevent drink spiking, it is best to watch your drink, avoid sharing drinks, buy/pour your own drink and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know well.
“Some drugs have no taste, odour or visible trace, and drink spiking is not limited to just alcoholic beverages,” she said.
“If you feel any strange effects, such as dizziness, sleepiness or nausea, particularly after having only a small amount of alcohol, ask someone you know and trust to immediately take you somewhere safe.
“Don't drink a drink if you feel unsure about it and always remember that if you suspect your drink has been spiked, never drive your car. Take a cab or ask a friend for a ride.”
“Anyone suspected of having had their drink spiked should not be left alone, and in some cases should be taken to hospital for treatment.”
NSW Health also reminds people drugs such ecstasy, speed, ice, cocaine and cannabis are illegal. Using these drugs or mixing them with alcohol puts you at risk of harm from acute health or mental health problems, injury and/or assault.
For more information on alcohol and other drugs, including effects and the law go to NSW Health’s website, http://www.yourroom.com.au
In the case of an emergency, always dial triple zero.