Know your limits this holiday season

Posted on: Monday, 15 December 2014

With the holiday period about to get into full swing, Turning Point experts are warning people to know their limits when it comes to alcohol.

Turning Point Director Dan Lubman said the summer season was a great time to get together with family and friends.

However, he warned that it was easy for people to underestimate or lose track of how much they had been drinking.

“With alcohol freely flowing over the holiday season, it can be easy to drink a bit more than you intended. Trying to work out how many drinks you can have before it starts affecting your behaviour is no easy task. It can vary depending on time of day, whether you have eaten, what you are drinking, your body size and gender,” Prof Lubman said.

“However, we do know that drinking more than 4 drinks in a session increases the risk of injury, accidents and social embarrassment, with every subsequent drink increasing the risk further.”

Prof Lubman said excessive alcohol consumption made the decision making part of our brain less effective.

“That can lead to an increase in risk-taking behaviour, which explains the number of road accidents, injuries or assaults due to intoxication.”  

Prof Lubman added that with summer set to bring warmer weather, people should understand that excessive alcohol consumption was not the best way to beat the heat.

“While it might be tempting to have a beer or wine to cool off, it is important that people understand the dehydrating effects of alcohol.”

Prof Lubman said alcoholic drinks were diuretics, and disrupted the kidney’s ability to maintain hydration.

“In the hot weather, it is crucial you drink water to remain hydrated.”

Turning Point Clinical Director Dr Matthew Frei said that people should also be wary about combining alcohol consumption with other drug use.

Drug use patterns are changing and multiple drug use is an increasing concern, particularly around times of vacation and celebration,” Dr Frei said.

“Combining alcohol with other drugs can markedly increase intoxication and associated risks.”

Prof Lubman said the safety message was not about stopping people having fun.

“The festive season is certainly something to celebrate. However, we also want to ensure people are safe, and look out for their friends and family.”

Hints and tips for a safer festive season

  • Alcohol absorption can vary depending on your body size and gender
  • Drink water between alcoholic beverages
  • Be wary of drinks being “topped up”
  • Eating slows alcohol absorption, so avoid drinking on an empty stomach
  • Be supportive of family and friends who may not be drinking
  • Never drink and drive, or be a passenger where the driver has been drinking
  • Avoid mixing alcohol and drugs
  • For help, call DirectLine on 1800 888 236 or visit www.counsellingonline.org.au