ALCOHOL

Avoid Alcohol Related Harm This Holiday Season

Tuesday 13 December 2011, 6:34PM
By ALAC
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The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and the Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) are reminding people to take care to avoid alcohol-related injury and harm this holiday season.

Last year ACC received over 50,000 claims from people injured during the Christmas holidays, with over 11,000 injuries resulting from falls in the home. The total cost of all these injuries to date is over $32 million.

ACC’s General Manager of Insurance and Prevention Services, Dr Keith McLea, says it is estimated that more than 20% of all injury claims received by ACC have alcohol as a contributing factor.

"Injuries don’t necessarily only occur when a person is intoxicated, but can also happen the next day when people are fatigued and may not be able to function fully or make good decisions. “That makes them a danger at work and on the roads, but also at home where around one in three injuries happen,” Dr McLea says.

During the festive season, more parties and gatherings can mean greater exposure to alcohol than usual for many people. Dr McLea therefore suggests the following tips for hosts of parties this Christmas:

• provide substantial food early on and keep it coming throughout
• plan activities so drinking isn’t the focus of the party
• provide a range of non-alcoholic drinks
• if someone refuses a drink, don’t push it
• don’t let people drive home - arrange safe transport for them or organise somewhere for them to stay.

Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) Chief Executive Officer, Gerard Vaughan, says Christmas is a time for celebration and getting together with friends and family. However, sometimes it can be ruined by too much alcohol.

“As we head into the festive season, it is timely to think of the consequences for us as individuals, families, communities and the country as a whole when we take drinking too far,” Mr Vaughan says.

“The greatest problems occur when people get drunk. It’s then that the accidents, fights, problems with relationships and domestic violence increase. It’s also the little things that affect families such as being too hung over to participate in family events.”

Mr Vaughan says employers hosting staff parties should implement host responsibility provisions and ensure the function doesn’t get out of hand. Watch out for the younger staff, particularly those under 18, and check how the law applies if you’re the host or taking them out to licensed premises.

Mr Vaughan says those hosting parties at home should plan ahead to avoid situations which could lead to at-risk drinking.

“We encourage people to talk to their friends and families about easing up on the drink. This will help everyone have a good time. It will also lighten the load on emergency staff, who see a lot of alcohol-related harm at this time of year,” he said.

Top tips on successfully navigating the Christmas season and avoiding alcohol misuse are available on www.alac.org.nz while ACC’s leaflet on how not to let a fall ruin your summer ('Summer falls flier') is available on http://www.acc.co.nz/search-results/index.htm?ssUserText=christmas