With the festive party season in full swing, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is urging people to watch their alcohol intake over Christmas.
Many people across Northern Ireland will be gearing up for office parties, family gatherings and nights out with friends when it will be all too easy to overindulge.
Owen O’Neill, the PHA’s Drugs and Alcohol Lead, said: “Most people will be looking forward to relaxing and enjoying themselves over Christmas and we are asking that they keep an eye on what they are drinking and set themselves limits. Don’t let your drinking spoil the holiday for you and your friends and family.”
It is recommended that men drink no more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol a day and no more than 21 units over a week. For women, it is recommended that they drink no more than 2 to 3 units of alcohol a day and no more than 14 units over the course of the week.
It’s important to spread the units throughout the week – you can’t ‘save up’ your units for a particular day or a party.
Binge drinking can have a major impact on health such as causing damage to the liver, heart, brain and stomach.
Alcohol can also affect your mental wellbeing and hangovers can leave you feeling low and anxious.
“If you are feeling down over Christmas, drinking can make it worse, so cutting down may put you in a better mood generally,” said Owen.
“Alcohol can also disrupt your sleep patterns, stopping you from having a deep sleep which can also add to low mood. Perhaps one the biggest impacts can be on our relationships. No one wants to spoil Christmas so plan ahead and take it easy if you do drink alcohol.”
If you do decide to drink alcohol over the Christmas period try to follow these simple tips:
- have something to eat before you start drinking to slow down the absorption of alcohol;
- alternate each alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic drink; for example water or a soft drink;
- take frequent five minute breaks from drinking to give your body time to recover;
- avoid drinking in rounds or having a kitty as this may make you drink more;
- keep track of your drinks and don’t let anyone top up your drink until it’s finished.
For further information about alcohol limits visit www.knowyourlimits.info
More information on looking after your mental health and the support which is available across Northern Ireland can be found at www.mindingyourhead.info
If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. This is a confidential service, where trained counsellors will listen and help immediately on the phone and follow up with other support if necessary. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at www.lifelinehelpline.info