Getting through the party season

Many people enjoy summer time as days are longer and many take a more relaxed attitude. Summer time also encourages people to go out more for parties, vacations and barbecues. Hence there is often more temptation to drink alcohol. High alcohol consumption has a detrimental effect on health and hence one is encouraged to always drink in moderation. It may be difficult to drink moderately when so much alcohol is around especially at parties. Below are some tips.

1.Alternate with water

This does work in reducing alcohol consumption and keeps you well hydrated at the same time. Alternate one drink with two glasses of water so you can stay within the limit.

2.Drink clear liquids

Clear liquids like gin and vodka look like melting ice so people will not notice that you may be leaving part of the drink behind. This way you will not be consuming the whole lot of drinks you are offered.

3.Order drinks that look like alcohol but in fact are not

You can order soda with lime which will look like vodka when in fact it will not contain any alcohol

4.Show up late

Sometimes special occasions are specifically set aside for excessive drinking. If you need to make an appearance but would rather not sacrifice your liver, show up 45-60 minutes late.

5.Order non-alcohol drinks

Be assertive and order non-alcoholic drinks… it is your health, it is your body so you decide what to drink. Alcohol has another detrimental effect on the body. Alcohol and driving are a deadly mix. Each year a number of people lose their lives because a driver made a reckless decision to drink and drive, and many more are injured. Alcohol is a depressant. It is absorbed into the blood stream and affects body functions. Although quickly absorbed, it remains in the body for an extended period of time. Alcohol has a profound effect on driving skills. Because of its depressant effects, drivers can misjudge their capabilities. Some of the effects of alcohol that affect driving include:

  • reaction time – slow reflexes can decrease the ability to react swiftly to situations
  • vision – eye muscles function more slowly. Eye movement and perception are altered, possibly resulting in blurred vision. Night vision and colour perception are also impaired.
  • tracking – the ability to judge the car’s position on the road, the location of other vehicles, center line, road signs, etc., can be adversely affected.
  • concentration – attention to driving may decrease and/or drowsiness may occur
  • comprehension – the depressant effect of alcohol hinders the ability to make rational decisions
  • coordination – the mechanics of driving can be affected by reduced eye/hand/foot coordination.

If alcohol is used in conjunction with other drugs (legal or illegal), the effects of both substances can be increased – a potentially deadly situation. Education efforts should include increased awareness about this synergistic effect as well. In the case of prescription drugs, health professionals must educate patients about the dangers of combining alcohol with medications.

If you are going to drink alcohol, the safest course of action is to make alternative transportation arrangements. These might include:

  • public transportation
  • taxis
  • designated drivers
  • prior arrangements to stay overnight
  • calling someone to pick you up

If you observe a drunk driver, do not attempt to approach with your vehicle. Instead, call the police. Drunk drivers are risking their own lives and the lives of others. Signs of a drunk driver include:

  • unable to stay within the lane
  • driving too fast
  • driving too slow
  • taking wide turns
  • slowing down and speeding up erratically
  • driving too close behind another vehicle
  • pulling over recklessly
  • driving without using headlights

Dr Charmaine Gauci