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Safe drinking during the holidays

Safe drinking during the holidays


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By Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Eastern Ontario Health Unit

December 23, 2015

As we are in the midst of the holiday party season, I wanted to write about alcohol and drinking responsibly.


Actually, I got the idea from a colleague that told me her underage son was at a friend’s house where the host parents were serving alcoholic beverages to all guests, including those less than 19 years of age.


Besides being illegal, this is also not a good way to set a positive example to our kids. Drinking is a part of our society. However, drinking too much alcohol can have serious effects on your health.


Tragically, we are all aware of the dangers of drinking and driving. It is better not to risk it and not drink at all.


Short Term Effects of Alcohol


  • Alcohol is a depressant drug that slows down the ability to think and to make decisions, judgment and behavior.


  • Alcohol causes sleepiness, but at the same time disrupts normal patterns of sleeping and dreaming.


  • Alcohol stimulates the kidneys to pass more water than is being consumed. This contributes to “the hangover” effect. The only remedy is to give your body time to get rid of the alcohol.


  • Long-Term Consequences of Alcohol Abuse


  • Alcohol abuse over an extended period of time can destroy our health. Common effects include malnutrition, liver disease, brain damage, ulcers, heart disease and various cancers.


  • Women who drink during pregnancy could deliver a baby with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).


  • In alcohol abuse, the drinker is not the only one who suffers. Drunk driving is implicated in over half of the nation’s traffic deaths each year, involving many innocent victims. It can also interfere with one’s health, job, studies, relationships and family.


Here are some helpful tips:


  • Drink moderately or not at all.


  • Do not drink alcohol if you have to drive a car or any other motorized vehicle, such as a boat.


  • Do not drink alcohol if you are pregnant.


Planning a Safe Party


Here are some tips that can help you be a good host and ensure a safe party or get-together:


  • When entertaining, offer non-alcoholic drinks along with the regular party food and drinks. Get someone to tend bar, instead of asking guests to help themselves, and have mineral water and food available.


  • If you’re going out, plan ahead to avoid problems. Take a cab or assign a designated driver.


  • Be prepared for overnight guests. Get blankets and sleeping bags ready. Find out how many guests will be going home from your party. Have cash and phone numbers ready for taxis or similar services, or have a designated driver.


  • Do not serve alcoholic beverages to minors


On a final note, you should never mix alcohol and medication. Many prescriptions and even some over-the-counter medications can have serious side effects if taken with alcohol.


Always read the labels on medications, talk to the pharmacist or your doctor.


I wish you all a happy and safe new year!