One of the UK’s biggest drug and alcohol charities has warned festive partygoers in Northamptonshire about the risks of mixing alcohol with drugs on the run up to the Christmas and New Year party season.
People drink more alcohol in December than any other month and are more likely to ‘pre-load’ by drinking heavily before they go out – therefore lowering inhibitions and influencing decision making.
Previous research has shown that 67.5 per cent of 18-year-olds who drink heavily have also tried an illicit drug.
Some younger teenagers, who are drinking weekly, are five times more likely to use dangerous drugs than teenagers who don’t drink.
Drug and alcohol charity S2S has issued its warning as many people still don’t understand the added risks of mixing alcohol with illegal party drugs and so-called ‘legal highs’.
Deputy services manager Minesh Patel said: “We know that people in Northamptonshire will want to enjoy themselves over the festive period, but we want people to be aware of how much they are drinking and the risks of trying another substance while out partying.
“If anyone in Northamptonshire is worried about drugs or alcohol you can speak to your GP or contact our drug and alcohol treatment service on 01604 211304.”
Medical director at health and social care charity CRI Professor Oscar D’Agnone said: “Christmas and New Year is a time for celebration and many people drink more alcohol when attending parties and gatherings with family and friends.
“Increased drinking often means that people lose their inhibitions, and are therefore more likely to try party drugs.
“What people don’t always understand are the risks involved in mixing substances.
“Not only can people be left in vulnerable positions, which put their personal safety at risk but mixing drugs and alcohol can lead to death.
“For example, mixing alcohol with cocaine can produce a toxic chemical called cocaethylene, which can make heart problems and sudden death around 18 times more likely.”
S2S is asking partygoers to be conscious of what they are drinking and taking while celebrating.
In particular, the charity is concerned about the increase in the popularity of ‘legal highs’, known professionally as New Psychoactive Substances (NPS).
In the past eight months, CRI has seen a 190 per cent increase in the number of people visiting its services because they have used NPS.
Mixing ‘legal highs’ with other substances is particularly risky.
CRI’s new psychoactive substance manager, Michael Lawrence, said: “As we approach Christmas and New Year, we know people go out more and they may be more likely to try a dangerous drug – particularly if they can buy it in a shop and therefore think it’s ‘safe’.
“What we’re actually learning, is that mixing so-called legal highs with alcohol can hugely increase the negative effects.
“We’re aware that the compilation of these substances is complicated and unknown.
“Adding an additional chemical, such as alcohol, into the mix, can further exacerbate the immediate and longer term impact for people.
“These can include: heart and bladder problems, mood swings, anxiety, accidental comas or death.”
CRI has produced some safer partying tips
Know your units: One unit of alcohol is equivalent to a single measure of a spirit.
An average glass of wine now includes at least two units.
It takes an average adult around an hour to process one unit, resulting in no alcohol remaining in their bloodstream.
Keep track of how much you are drinking: and how you are feeling. Are you still in control? Are you starting to feel unwell?
Alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks and water.
Especially if you’re starting to feel unwell, drink water sensibly.
It helps to keep you hydrated when partying.
However, it doesn’t sober you up or change the rate you process the alcohol you’ve consumed.
Avoid drinking on an empty stomach – always have a proper meal before going out.
Don’t mix alcohol with other substances, as it dramatically increases risks to health and safety.
In fact, just don’t take drugs.