Take care when drinking over Christmas

19 December 2013
Whanganui DHB health promoter for alcohol and other drugs Sarah Hawken is urging Whanganui residents to plan ahead and think carefully about how alcohol is consumed over the summer period.
Miss Hawken says while one or two drinks is a normal part of most festive gatherings, having too many can cause unpleasant hangovers, alcohol-related injuries, family fights, domestic disputes and serious road crashes. 
“Plan ahead to try and make sure this Christmas is injury, conflict and hangover–free,” she says. “The following strategies can help family and friends keep themselves and others safe.”
Provide a range of low or non-alcoholic drinks
Juice, punch, mocktails; mixers such as soda water for spritzers or shandies, to help slow down people’s consumption of alcohol. Low alcohol beer and lots of iced water are other suggestions.  Ask yourself if you need to provide as much alcohol as you have in the past?

Supply food
And not just salty, thirst-making chips or peanuts. Substantial food (e.g. Christmas dinner, sandwiches, savouries, and pizza) slows people’s drinking down and makes the occasion more special.

Consider transport
People don’t have to be drunk to be unsafe or unlawful to drive. Suggest guests leave their vehicles at home and take taxis or organise a sober driver. Remember coffee or fresh air doesn’t sober someone up. Getting alcohol out of the bloodstream takes time.  Switching to low alcohol drinks or non-alcoholic will help.

Don’t just drink
Socialising with family and friends is about having a good time which can include playing backyard cricket, pool or darts; going to the park, or perhaps having a sing-along/karaoke.

Manage the drinks
Having the host manage the drinks can slow down anyone who has had a few too many – including young people who might help themselves. If there have been issues in the past, it might be necessary to speak to those concerned in advance. 

New law supplying minors
From 18 December 2013, there are new laws for supplying alcohol to under-18s. You cannot supply alcohol to someone under the age of 18 years unless:
  • The person supplying the alcohol is the parent or legal guardian and the alcohol is supplied in a responsible manner, or
  • The person supplying alcohol has the express consent of the young person’s parent or legal guardian and the alcohol is supplied in a responsible manner.