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The sobering truth about the ‘silly season’

There’s a reason why they call this time of year the ‘silly season’.

While our calendars are jam-packed with work-parties and family celebrations, Australia’s emergency services personnel are in even higher demand.

December is the busiest month for our paramedics, hospital staff and police when it comes to responding to incidents and assaults relating to alcohol intoxication.

Data collected by Turning Point and VicHealth in 2012 found that rates of alcohol-related harms are at an all-time high in the summer months, beginning from the last working day before Christmas. On this day, there is a 50% increase in ambulance attendances for alcohol intoxication.

Why do so many people turn to the bottle throughout the holiday season? Some people drink to unwind at the end of the working year, while others consume alcohol as a social lubricant. Sadly, many people will drink a lot in an attempt to mask feelings of loneliness and despair during a time traditionally spent with loved ones.

As party hosts, guests, workmates, friends and family, we all have a role to play in helping to reduce the negative effects of alcohol throughout the holiday season.

Hosts: Try not to let alcohol saturate your event. Plan activities that can take the focus away from drinking. Encourage people to consume food and non-alcoholic beverages by providing a great spread of party-food and drink. More hosting tips here.

Guests: Don’t be that guest. Control your alcohol intake by sipping regularly on water and only taking the amount of drinks that you need to the event. Have a getaway plan, whether it’s calling a Taxi or getting a lift with a designated driver. More safe-partying tips here.

Employers: Be a responsible employer by hosting safe end-of-year celebrations and educating your employees about the next-day effects of alcohol and other drugs.

Communities: The holiday season can be a difficult time for many, so spread the love wherever possible. Where appropriate, invite friends and community members who may be isolated or alone to your own celebrations.

Families: The festive season is a great opportunity to spend time with loved ones, young and old.Set a good example for your family by drinking responsibly and avoiding giving alcohol-related gifts.

We hope all Grogwatchers have fun and spend time with their family and friends, celebrating the old year and the new year. We trust the party doesn’t end with a hangover. By limiting alcohol intake, you can set a great example for those around you, and have a much more memorable time.

If we can better manage the use of alcohol we’ll also make life easier for the emergency personnel who spend too much of this precious time of the year away from their loved ones.

Written by Ilona Mulvey