Avoid going over the top this Christmas

Posted on: Tuesday, 06 December 2011

From the office end of year party to lunch on Christmas Day, experts at Eastern Health’s Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre are urging people to keep in mind the effect that excessive drinking can have on their family and friends.

Turning Point Director Professor Dan Lubman said December was a great time to celebrate the year just gone, but it was important people did not go over the top.

“We want to make sure people not only look after themselves, but also consider those around them,” Prof Lubman said.

Recent research by Turning Point revealed family and friends can pay a heavy price when someone drinks to excess.

Prof Lubman said drinking heavily affected the way we made decisions, which could result in people being more impulsive, less inhibited and more risky in their choices.

“As we drink more, the decision-making part of our brain becomes less effective, meaning there is an increased likelihood of injuries as a result of fighting or accidents, including road trauma,” he said.

“Young women are also more likely to be sexually assaulted when under the influence of alcohol.

“Our data shows that many people report feeling threatened by people they know who over-indulge, which impacts on their evening out and may even affect their long-term relationship with the person.”

Turning Point Head of Clinical Services Dr Matthew Frei said alcohol was one of the main causes of physical harm, particularly among young people.

“There are still far too many alcohol-related hospital admissions, deaths, assaults and serious road injuries,” Dr Frei said.

"Alcohol use, even in celebratory settings, is often the reason behind presentations to hospital emergency departments.”

Dr Frei said the safety message was not about taking the fun out Christmas.

 “We just want everyone to finish 2011 on a safe and positive note.”

Hints and tips for a safer festive season
• Do not use alcohol as a coping strategy if you are experiencing loneliness or anxiety
• Drink water between alcoholic beverages
• Eating slows alcohol absorption, so avoid drinking on an empty stomach
• Never drink and drive, or be a passenger where the driver has been drinking
• Be supportive of friends and family who choose not to drink
• Be wary of drinks being “topped up”
• Keep in mind that alcohol absorption can vary depending on your body size and gender.
• For help, call Directline on 1800 888 236 or www.counsellingonline.org.au

If you would like to arrange an interview with Prof Dan Lubman or Dr Matthew Frei, please contact Winston Tan from Eastern Health Communications on 0407 785 706.