Editorial: Australia, do we have a drinking problem?

AUSTRALIA, do we have a drinking problem?

Now, before you take aim at me with your champagne bottles, the question seems warranted given how many alcohol-fuelled incidents rolled through the door of Tamworth’s emergency department (ED) on New Year’s Eve.

While local publicans have praised revellers’ behaviour on Sunday night, the ED saw a typical surge on the last day of the year, with a 127 visitors on Sunday night.

“Unfortunately, there’s a whole lot of family and social situations that come to a head over the holiday period,” ED staff specialist Sarah Jones told The Leader.

“Combined with that and people having, perhaps, too good a time to celebrate the old and bring in the new, there was a lot of trauma and some assaults.

“A few intoxicated patients who came through, as well as the usual host of strokes and people with chest pains.”

Dr Jones said the end-of-year celebrations can see “the assaults related to alcohol ingestion”.

Don’t get me wrong. Drinking is synonymous with our Aussie culture. 

Any time we have friends or family coming over, we stack the eskies full of ice and whatever is on special at the local bottle-o, or head to the local watering hole.

And that is even more so the case when there’s reason to celebrate.

New Year’s Eve is no exception.

It’s an ideal time to catch up with your nearest and dearest, share your stories from 2017 and look forward to the year ahead. 

But that doesn’t mean you need to overdo it on the sauce. Especially if it’s to the extent of being hospitalised or affecting those around you. Moderation, it seems, can sometimes go to the wayside.

The annual Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education's national poll showed earlier this year that seventy-eight per cent of people believe Australia has a problem with excess drinking.

That’s a pretty damning majority. But one that comes with an easy solution: drink less.

Frontline workers like paramedics, police and staff at our hospitals do an amazing job looking after us when we need them most. 

When many are out partying, ringing in the new year with family and friends, they’re on the job. Looking forward to the year ahead, it’s important we take care of each other – and ourselves.

That might start with something as simple as knowing when to call it a night.

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