Updated: Feb 5, 2019
Both summer and the holiday season are approaching us. Our diaries are filled with work parties, family get-togethers and catch-ups with friends. Alcohol frequently underlines many people’s social calendars. While a certain degree of alcohol is fine, having too much alcohol can present with many health, legal and social problems –– which can easily ruin what is meant to be a merry time of year.
There are harms associated with drinking too much on a single occasion, and also over a life time.
Drinking too much on a single occasion is often referred to as ‘binge drinking.’ Binge drinking is a common problem at all times of the year, and in all age groups.
What are the risks of binge drinking?
The risk of an alcohol-related injury rises with the amount you drink.
Some risks can simply ruin a good night, for you and for others, and other risks can be life-threatening.
Risks fall into three different categories:
Health/safety: injury is the most likely consequence of binge drinking. For example: falls; motor vehicle accidents; and assaults. You are also more likely to get involved with unsafe activities, such as having unprotected sex.
Legal: alcohol contributes to criminal behaviours, such as: drink driving; assaults; disorderly behaviour; or property damage. These can land you in trouble with the law, and can also cause harm to yourself and to other people.
Social: alcohol can affect the way you act. This can lead to things like losing friends.
How can I drink safely?
Minimising your alcohol intake on a single occasion can reduce the risk of alcohol-related injury, during that occasion. National guidelines recommend that, for healthy men and women, no more than four standard drinks should be consumed on a single occasion. Research in Australia has confirmed that having more than four drinks can put your health and safety at serious risk.
Note that one drink is not always the same as one standard drink! Please see the Australian Government’s Standard Drinks Guide at the following link: http://www.alcohol.gov.au/internet/alcohol/publishing.nsf/Content/drinksguide-cnt.
Here are some other tips that you can use to reduce your risk of harm:
Set a limit and count your drinks.
Pace yourself. Have one drink at a time, and take sips instead of gulps. Drink some water as well.
Try drinks that have a lower alcohol content (eg. light or mid-strength beer).
Eat before and while you are drinking. Alcohol is absorbed more slowly from your stomach when you have eaten.
Don’t mix alcohol with drugs (illicit, prescription or over-the-counter). Mixing them together can be unpredictable and dangerous.
It is important to look out for your friends as well. If someone has worrying side effects from alcohol (or other substances), dial 000 for an ambulance immediately.
If you would like to talk to someone about the health effects of drinking, or would like to change your drinking habits, please come and see one of our friendly doctors.
You can call 8340 2233 to book an appointment.
· ReachOut Australia, ‘What is binge drinking?’, ReachOut Australia, https://au.reachout.com/articles/what-is-binge-drinking
· SA Health 2017, ‘Reducing the likelihood of alcohol-related harms,’ SA Health, http://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/health+topics/health+conditions+prevention+and+treatment/alcohol/reducing+the+likelihood+of+alcohol-related+harms
· SA Health 2017, ‘The risks of drinking alcohol,’ SA Health, http://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/healthy+living/is+your+health+at+risk/the+risks+of+drinking+alcohol