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alcohol health alliance uk

Health feature on holiday drinking

Posted 04/07/11

Whether jetting off abroad or staying closer to home – many of us will be enjoying a few drinks as part of a well-earned summer holiday. However, research suggests that a significant proportion could be over-doing the alcohol, putting their health and safety at risk.

A survey recently conducted by TripAdvisor revealed that more than six in ten Brits admit to drinking more when they are abroad, with almost a third drinking at least five alcoholic drinks a day - compared to just one in ten Europeans.

Even when they’re not caught up in the holiday spirit, a third of North Easterners are drinking more than the recommended Government limits and one in five binge drinks, classified as a woman drinking two large glasses of wine in one sitting or a man consuming three pints of premium lager, on a weekly basis.

At all times, drinking too much can have short term health impacts, including anxiety, impotence and hangovers. It can lead to loss of consciousness and even fatal poisoning. Drinking too much in the sun adds an increased chance of dehydration and sunburn.

Increased alcohol consumption also leads to poor decision making and risk taking behaviour, which can have added implications in an unfamiliar environment where a foreign language is spoken.

It is linked to an increased risk of accident and injury and a greater likelihood of being involved in crime - as a victim or an offender. Drinking too much can also encourage some people to take drugs or have unprotected sex – which could result in an STD or unwanted pregnancy. Research shows that a third of drinkers in the region have experienced a risky situation as a result of drinking too much.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “We aren’t for one minute suggesting that people should not enjoy alcohol as part of their holiday.

“Everyone deserves to relax and have a break. However, we would urge people to consider the risks attached with drinking too much, keep an eye on how much they’re drinking and avoid over doing it.

“This can be particularly important when staying an unfamiliar town or city in a foreign country, encountering cultural differences and a language barrier made more difficult to breach by too much alcohol.”

Holiday drinking and children

For many North Easterners, the summer holidays mean spending more time with the children – which provides an added incentive to stay alcohol free.

According to research published last month by charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, parents are a major influencer when it comes to the drinking habits of children and young people. The report revealed that a teenager who has seen his or her parent drunk is twice as likely to get drunk themselves.

Research carried out by Balance reveals that adults misusing alcohol around children is frowned upon in the North East – with four in five agreeing that adults should never drink too much in front of children.

Colin explained: “Children and alcohol do not mix – home or away and parental influence should not be underestimated.

“We know that the vast majority of parents across the North East take their responsibilities very seriously when it comes to their children and this approach needs to be extended to include the holidays. Parents are the biggest influence in a child’s life and we need to lead by example instead of normalising alcohol and making it part of a summer holiday or family experience.

“Getting drunk in front of the children is not only putting individual health at risk, it’s endangering the wellbeing of the child – both now and in the future, by creating another generation which views excessive drinking as perfectly normal.”