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- Area Residents Encouraged to Be Safe and Smart When It Comes to Drinking Over the Holidays -

If alcohol is part of your holiday festivities, be sure to drink responsibly or face some sobering costs.

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation estimates someone convicted of drunk driving could face costs in excess of $18,000. While these costs include legal bills, fines and higher insurance rates, the price-tag could even be higher, warns Jennifer Valcamp, a Health Promoter with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit

“Think of the human toll that alcohol misuse can cause when you put yourself and others in harm’s way,” Valcamp notes. “Excessive drinking can cloud your judgment and reduce your reaction time, increasing the risk of injury to yourself and others. Given the potential financial and human costs, you have to ask yourself if one night of heavy drinking is really worth it?”

The Health Unit urges people to drink responsibly, whether going out to a restaurant or bar to celebrate the festive season, or if attending a holiday party at a friend’s place or a relative’s home. “If you plan to drink alcohol, have a plan on how to get home,” Valcamp adds. “Ensure you have a designated driver, or be sure to call a cab.”

If hosting a party over the holidays, Valcamp also advises people to be safe and know their legal responsibilities. “You can be sued and held liable if you provide alcohol to guests, who then become intoxicated and injure themselves or others either at the event or on the way home,” she notes. As a host, it is important to limit your own drinking or not consume any alcohol in order to watch out for potential problems.

Party hosts should also consider serving drinks to their guests, since providing a self-serve bar can lead guests to drink even more alcohol. It may also be wise to offer guests ‘mocktails’ (alcohol -free cocktails) and other non-alcoholic drinks such as water, and to stop serving alcohol entirely a few hours before the end of the party. Providing snacks to guests over the course of the festivities is also recommended since eating helps to slow down the absorption of alcohol.

At the end of the night, know how guests are getting home, Valcamp adds. If individuals have had too much to drink, do not let them drive home. Instead, arrange for guests to get a ride with a designated driver, call a cab, or plan to put them up for the night.

Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines are a good way to adopt safer, healthier drinking habits, Valcamp adds. The Guidelines were developed to offer advice on safer levels of drinking, particularly the maximum amounts of alcohol Canadians should consume on a daily or weekly basis. According to the Guidelines, men should limit their alcohol intake to 15 drinks a week, with no more than three drinks a day most days. The weekly limit for women is 10 drinks per week, with no more than two drinks a day most days. Put into practice, Valcamp says the Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines are a valuable resource to help individuals to drink responsibly and stay within their limits.

“Holiday gatherings are a great way to enjoy the season with friends and family,” she adds. “If alcohol is served, it’s important to take precautions to avoid potential injuries and risks, ensuring everyone enjoys the festivities the right way.”

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For media inquiries, contact:

Jennifer Valcamp, Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit, (613) 475-0933, or toll-free: 1-866-888-4577.

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