AS the countdown to New Year's Eve celebrations begin, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation is encouraging Australians to plan ahead and follow some simple steps to help make a healthier and safer start to 2020.
ADF chief executive Dr Erin Lalor said bringing in the new year should be enjoyable and safe for everyone but risky alcohol and other drug consumption increased the chance of accidents, injuries and violence.
"We want everyone to have a happy, healthy and safe start to the new decade," she said.
"People celebrating can do some really easy things to help prevent or reduce the risk of alcohol and other drug related harms.
The ADF's top tips for people planning on drinking alcohol over the new year period include:
- Avoid driving and swimming. If you are consuming alcohol, the safest option is not to swim or drive. If you are heading out, assign a designated driver or pre-organise alternative transport home.
- Set a drinking limit and stick to it. The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends drinking no more than four standard alcoholic drinks on a single occasion to avoid injury or illness. Avoid drinking in rounds and don't let others top up your glass, as you may lose track of how many drinks you've had.
- Keep hydrated and stay out of the sun. Drink water or other non-alcoholic beverages between alcoholic drinks. If you are drinking alcohol in the daytime remember to use lots of sunscreen and keep in the shade as drinking can increase your risk of sunburn.
- Don't drink alcohol on an empty stomach. Eat food before and while drinking to slow the absorption of alcohol in your body.
- Get up and move. Occupy yourself to help reduce the amount of alcohol you consume, for example: play pool, sing karaoke or hit the dance floor.
If you are planning on using illicit drugs, remember there is no safe level of drug use. The Alcohol and Drug Foundation advice includes:
- Get the facts before consuming. Find out as much as you can about the drug you are intending to take. Check the drug facts page on the ADF website at adf.org.au or use their "Text the Effects" service by simply texting the name of a drug to 0439 835 563.
- Start small. Avoid taking large amounts of any drug. Have a test amount first and wait two hours before taking more. This is to see if you experience any adverse side effects and help you understand how strong the drug is.
- Stick with your mates. Avoid using drugs alone. If you have an adverse reaction, you want someone around to help. Drugs can also prevent you from thinking clearly so it's important to stay with people you trust to help avoid risky situations.
- Don't mix drugs. Taking different drugs at the same time, including alcohol, prescription medicine and over-the-counter drugs, can have unpredictable effects and increases the risk of accidents, injury and overdose.
- Avoid swimming or driving. Just like alcohol, illicit drugs can affect your reflexes, response times and judgement, so the safest option is not to drive or swim. This includes when you are coming down from drugs, as some substances can take a while to leave your system.
Dr Lalor also said it was extremely important for people to call triple zero in an emergency.
"Calling triple zero in an emergency could be the difference between life and death," she said.
"It doesn't mean police have to be involved."
More safe celebration tips, drug information and support can be found on the ADF website.
Alternatively, call the ADF Drug Info line on 1300 85 85 84. The confidential service provides drug information and puts people in touch with relevant support and health services in their state or territory.