‘Don’t over-do it with festive drink’ warn Northamptonshire health experts...and if you do give booze a break for two days

Festive partygoers are being urged to consider their alcohol intake over the Christmas and New Year season by health leaders in Northamptonshire.

The advice comes from NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Northamptonshire County Council Public Health.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that people in the UK drink 41 percent more in December than the annual monthly average. In total, about 15,000 people die each year from alcohol misuse – over 3% of all deaths. Some of these deaths are caused by drink driving, which rises sharply at Christmas.

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NHS guidelines recommend women drink no more than two to three units a day. Men should stick to a maximum of three to four units. Each of these drinks contains one unit:

* 1 half pint of ordinary strength beer, lager of cider (3.5 percent)

* 1 small (125ml) glass of wine (8 percent)

* 1 single (25ml) measure of spirits (37.5 percent)

A spokesman said: “When enjoying the Christmas festivities, it’s important to drink in moderation and opt for water or a soft drink every other round to lessen the effects of dehydration.

“Avoid mixing drinks and pay particular attention to measures when drinking at home as they tend to be more generous. Darker drinks like red wine, brandy and whiskey give worse hang­overs because of their higher concentrations of chemicals.

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“If you do over indulge, the NHS recommends steering clear from alcohol for at least two days. This will give the body time to digest properly what is left in the liver, and recover from the toxic effects of alcohol.

“Should you become ill through alcohol, Minor Injuries Units can treat sprains and strains, broken bones and wound infections. Walk-in Centres give health advice and treatment without an appointment,” she said.

Dr Darin Seiger, GP Chair of NHS Nene CCG, said: “Most people enjoy a sensible social drink but at times, especially over the Christmas period, lots of people end up drinking more than is good for them.

“The effects of excessive drinking will leave you with more than a bad hangover. The long-term detrimental effects of over-consumption are very serious and can lead to a number of health problems such as high blood pressure and depression, as well as life-threatening conditions including heart disease, liver disease and a number of cancers.

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“Alcohol causes significant harm in the UK and is responsible for more than 1.2 million hospital admissions a year. Alcohol-related liver disease is also a growing concern, with more and more people developing liver damage because of their drinking.

“Most people think it’s just binge drinkers or the young who drink more than they should but the fact is that many people – usually at home – regularly exceed their recommended daily limits. That’s why we’re urging everyone to take a sober look at their drinking as Christmas approaches and resolve to drink sensibly – not only during the festive period but for always.”

Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, Councillor Robin Brown, said: “Office parties, family get-togethers and Christmas celebrations mean that lots of us drink more than we should at this time of year. But binge drinking can have a significant impact on your health and can affect your mental wellbeing too.

“Don’t let excess drinking spoil the festive season – and if you feel that it might be time to take a break after Christmas, why not sign up to Dry January and challenge yourself to 31 days alcohol-free?”

To use a mobile unit calculator, visit www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Alcohol-unit-calculator.aspx

For lots of sound advice on sensible drinking, visit www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/Alcoholhome.aspx