NSW Health is urging people to take care of themselves, family and friends and plan ahead when going out to celebrate this festive season.
Although usually a time for celebration and socialising with friends and family, Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve are sometimes 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 sometimes even 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,” Dr Mitchell said.
“Alarmingly, more than one in five (22 per cent) of all hospitalisations of young people aged 15-24 years old are alcohol-related,” she said.
NSW Health advises people that moderation is the key this festive season to ensure they kick off 2015 in the best health possible.
“Time pour drinks and alternate with non-alcoholic drinks such as tap water, soda water, mineral water and diet soft-drinks,” Dr Mitchell said.
“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,” Dr Mitchell said.
“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. 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. Anyone suspected of having had their drink spiked should not be left alone.”
This is also an opportunity to remind people about the risks of mixing alcohol with drugs and the unforeseeable reactions people may have.
“You can never know what’s in any illegal drug and the effects of all drugs are unpredictable and when mixing alcohol with drugs the negative effects can be made worse.”
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.