With the holiday season here, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) is reminding people to plan ahead and follow some simple steps for healthier and safer celebrations.
ADF chief executive officer Dr Erin Lalor said many were forced apart due to COVID-19, so open borders and relaxed lockdown measures meant the end of year celebrations with family and friends would be extra special this year.
“It’s been an incredibly tough year for everyone, particularly for those who have lost loved ones.
“Many people will no doubt be celebrating the ability to once again catch up with family and friends after a long period of separation. Celebrations may be extra special this year and there are some really easy things that people can do to stay safer, healthier and reduce the risk of alcohol harm.”
The ADF’s top tips for people planning on drinking alcohol over the holiday period include:
Don’t drive or swim. If you are consuming alcohol, the safest option is not to swim or drive. If you are heading out, assign a designated driver or pre-organise alternative transport home, such as a rideshare or taxi
Set a drinking limit and stick to it. Avoid drinking in rounds and letting others top up your glass, as you may lose track of how many drinks you’ve had
Keep hydrated and out of the sun. Drink water or other non-alcoholic drinks between alcoholic beverages. If you are consuming alcohol in the daytime, remember to use lots of sunscreen and keep in the shade, as drinking can increase your risk of sunburn
Don’t consume alcohol on an empty stomach. Eat food before and while drinking to slow the absorption of alcohol in your body
Get up and move. Occupy yourself to help reduce the amount of alcohol you’re consuming, for example: play pool, sing karaoke or hit the dancefloor.
Dr Lalor also encouraged Australians to follow the new alcohol guidelines, which were released recently by the National Health and Medical Research Council, to reduce the risk of alcohol harm and improve the health of Australians.
“The guidelines are built on the latest evidence,” she said.
“They recommend healthy adults have no more than 10 standard drinks a week to reduce the risk of serious long-term health impacts like cancer. And no more than four standard drinks in one day will reduce your risk of injury.
“Women who are planning a pregnancy, are pregnant or breastfeeding should not drink alcohol, as it’s safest for the health of their baby.”
The new guidelines also recommend anyone under the age of 18 should not drink any alcohol to help prevent injury and other harm to their health, including impacts on the developing brain and riskier drinking levels when they are older.
“Some parents may be tempted to allow their kids to drink over the holidays, but we recommend sticking to the new guidelines,” Dr Lalor said.
“The ADF wishes everyone a happy, safe and healthy holiday period, especially after enduring this extraordinarily difficult year.”
For more harm reduction tips, head to adf.org.au.