Don’t make this Christmas your last Christmas!
Friday 19th December, 2008
West Sussex Primary Care Trust (PCT) is urging everyone to enjoy the festive season but stay safe.
Sue Carmichael, Public Health Improvement Co-ordinator for West Sussex PCT, said, “We certainly want people to go out and have a good time, but certainly recently the strength of alcohol has got stronger and the size of glasses alcohol is served in have got bigger. It’s very easy to have drunk more than you think you have.”
In England and Wales, alcohol misuse leads to more than 33,000 hospital admissions each year for alcohol-related liver disease.
Andy Parr, Head of Emergency Preparedness for South East Coast Ambulance Service, said, “Sadly, alcohol does have a marked impact on our workload over Christmas and New Year. People do drink in excess at this time of year; it causes them to fall over, to have accidents, it causes their existing injuries or conditions to become worse. In particular, people out partying on a very cold night can become affected by hypothermia very quickly.”
Regularly drinking more than the recommended number of units over a long period can also lead to complications like:
- Certain types of cancer, especially breast cancer
- Memory loss, brain damage or even dementia
- Increased risk of heart disease and stroke
- Liver disease, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer
- Stomach damage
- Potentially fatal alcohol poisoning
And it’s not just alcohol that people may be considering over Christmas and New Year. Emergency services are called to a number of reports of drug misuse.
Anna Kirk, Health Improvement Practitioner - Substance Misuse, for West Sussex PCT, said, “The key message for everyone to remember is that not everyone is doing it. Taking illegal drugs is not something anyone should feel pressurised or forced into doing, at any time of year. Drug misuse can have serious implications on the health and wellbeing of the individual users.”
So if you are planning to go out this Christmas and New Year, here are some helpful tips to make sure you stay safe and health:
- Eat before you go out, or early in the evening, to reduce the effects of your drinking
- Remember, it's not about saving up your units for the week and cramming them all into one evening
- Drink water regularly during the evening and before you go to bed
- Take a break if you think the drink is hitting you too quickly
- Pace yourself with soft drinks - a tonic looks the same with or without vodka
- Don't try to keep up with friends who drink more than you - that's their choice
- Don't mix alcohol with drugs of any kind, but especially ecstasy or cocaine: it can be deadly
- If you're on medication, ask your doctor if it's safe to drink
- After a session of heavy drinking take a break for 48 hours to let your body recover
In the countdown to Christmas, the government has launched its Know Your Limits Units campaign, offering useful information on how many units there are in different drinks and practical health advice.
For more information and to try our units calculator, visit www.nhs.uk/units.