Lou O'Brien

Aussies cannot handle grog over festive season

TIS the season for binge drinking but the spike in hospital visits this time of year suggests Australians cannot handle their grog.

Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre director Dan Lubman said this was a time when we should be caring towards each other, rejoicing and celebrating.

"We end up getting wasted, beating each other, falling over and ending up in an ambulance," he said.

Professor Lubman said it was not just the festive season; that there was a major increase in alcohol-related presentations for intoxications and assaults the night before all Australian public holidays.

He said studies of ambulance, police and hospital presentations showed significant harms associated with acute intoxication use at those times.

"Most of the costs to society around alcohol relate to the burden associated with the injuries, assaults and accidents," he said.

"It's not just the drinker themselves that get themselves into bother. We know when people go out at night … people can also be the victim of assaults or abuse."

Mr Lubman said New Year celebrations seemed to be one of the worst because people had a 'worry about it next year attitude'.

"It's a whole period of relaxing, letting your hair down because you've got new year around the corner with lots of resolutions to be more healthy and change practices," he said.

"The focus is about excess in a number of different ways because in the New Year 'we'll change what we're doing'.

"But if we don't focus now on changing what we're doing - a lot will end up in front of police, ambulance and hospitals."

Anyone suffering from alcohol or drug problems can contact the Turning Point helpline on 1800 888 236 or visit the Counselling Online website for free advice about alcohol or drug related issues 24/7.



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