The party season is upon us and London is one of the best places in the world to have a good night out. WDP Square Mile Health want Londoners to eat, drink and be merry over the festive period, but we also want prevent harm and trips to A&E. Last December 5,526 incidents the London Ambulance Service attended were alcohol related. This year the City of London Corporation, supported by the Mayor of London, are running a London-wide Christmas alcohol campaign encouraging you to have a fun and safe night out by keeping in mind three wise things: Eat, Pace, Plan.
Eating a meal before you start drinking won’t change the amount of alcohol in your system, but it will slow the rate at which it is absorbed into the blood. In short this means that you won’t get quite so drunk quite so quickly, meaning you are less likely to cause yourself or others harm. Starting your Christmas party in a restaurant is a great way to make sure everyone lines their stomachs!
Being mindful of the amount you are drinking can be tricky, especially after your first few drinks. Here are some tips on pacing yourself on a night out:
- Have a strategic soft drink or some water between alcoholic drinks or have it on the side to sip on. This will slow down your drinking and keep you hydrated.
- For something a bit more like the real thing, why not try a non-alcoholic beer or a mocktail between alcoholic drinks?
- Know how many units are in your usual drink and try to keep track. Remember that more than six units in one sitting is considered binge drinking.
- Beware of drinking in rounds. Don’t feel obliged to keep up with other people, this can be dangerous and expensive.
- If you are uncertain about how much you are drinking, ask the bar staff. Do they pour doubles or singles as standard? How many millilitres is their large glass of wine? What percentage is their craft beer?
Planning how you are going to get home in advance could save you a lot of hassle when you’re not thinking quite so clearly.
- Think about where your nearest bus or tube stop will be and check the time of the last service. The Night Tube offers a 24-hour service on Fridays and Saturdays on the Victoria, Jubilee, and most of the Central, Northern and Piccadilly lines, and London Buses run services 24 hours a day. Visit tfl.gov.uk/journeyplanner to plan your route home
- Never use an unbooked minicab. Unbooked minicabs are illegal and uninsured for carrying passengers. If it’s not booked, it’s not safe, even if it has a TfL licence sticker in the window.
- Only black taxis (the ones with the orange ‘taxi’ lights) can be hailed on the street or hired at a rank without a booking.
- Make sure you have enough battery on your phone to call a cab if you need to.
- Don’t leave it to chance and walk home alone. Look after friends or colleagues who have had a bit too much.
One more thing to remember after a big night out is that you may still be over the drink drive limit the morning after, even if you feel sober. It takes your liver AT LEAST one hour* to process every unit of alcohol you drink. In other words, if you start drinking at 9pm and you have six pints of lager, on average your body won’t be clear of alcohol until midday the next day. Do not risk it.
*(This is just an estimate and should not be used to make decisions about whether you are fit to drive. Many factors influence the ability of your liver to metabolise alcohol. It could take your liver much longer that one hour to process one unit of alcohol. You should never drive until you are completely sure that you are completely sober.)
More information about alcohol and health can be found at NHS – One You
You can also get advice and support by calling Drinkline on 0300 123 1110.