Issue #10 December 2013
Ask someone on the street what’s causing alcohol-related harm and they will most likely say “young people and binge drinking”. This issue is splashed across our headlines and screens almost daily. Yet binge drinking is not the only problem, and young people are far from being the only victims or perpetrators of alcohol-related harms. Many of us are drinking at dangerous levels without realising the damage it’s causing or how it contributes to our drinking culture.
Regular drinking plays a major role in heart disease, acquired brain damage, liver cirrhosis and cancer. Alcohol is implicated in over 60 separate diseases. Alcohol advertising never mentions that and many of us don’t think about it. Alcohol companies like us to drink constantly, but they aren’t around to pick up the tab for the cost to many people’s health or the hidden costs to us all of a boozy culture.
Part of the answer lies in the policy changes such as minimum alcohol pricing, stronger controls on marketing and reducing late night trading hours, but something else is needed. What about us? Are we partly responsible for the mess? Ghandi said if we want a better world we should change ourselves first. We should act as though the world has already changed in the way we want.
Is alcohol always on our table? Is it part of every celebration? Do we accidently drink too much because someone kept topping up our glass? Perhaps it’s time to stop and think what role it plays in our lives? Whether we want to or not, we have to cut back the amount that we drink. One in five Kiwis drinks at a level that puts them at risk of harm over their lifetime. That person could be ourselves, but if it’s not us, chances are it’s one of our close friends, or family members.
December is party season in New Zealand when drinking too much it not only accepted, it’s encouraged for all ages. How might you model responsible drinking this season to your whanau and friends? Check out some of the ideas below and be the change.
Ngā mihi o te wā me te Tau Hou,
Health Promotion Advisor - Alcohol and other Drugs – Northland DHB
The Health Promotion Agency has launched a new campaign to promote a better understanding of the new legislation around the provision of alcohol to minors. The creative style of the campaign is fun and entertaining directly engaging with audiences. The campaign uses humour to raise awareness of a law change in an engaging way. The TV commercial uses a real-life scenario to show what not to do. The key character is used across the campaign platforms to link the messaging together. Click here to view the 30 second advertisement.
Under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, from the 18th December it will be illegal to supply alcohol to someone under the age of 18 unless you are their parent or legal guardian or you have express consent from their parent or legal guardian. You’re also required by law to supply any alcohol in a responsible manner.
Express consent from a parent or legal guardian might come in the form of a personal conversation, an email or a text message. As the supplier of the alcohol, you will also need to have good reason to believe that the express consent you’ve been given is genuine.
Northland District Health Board is committed to taking a lead role in reducing alcohol-related harm in our community and at a recent meeting, the Board formally agreed to adopt a ‘Position Statement on Alcohol Harm’. “The new position statement acts as a guiding document to support clinicians and health services, including public health services which have a pivotal role in advocating for, supporting and implementing alcohol harm-reduction strategies in Northland”, said Chief Executive Dr Nick Chamberlain.
“The Board are also committed to the collection and reporting of high quality alcohol-related health data”, added Dr Chamberlain. “Since August 2011, the Whangarei Emergency Department started proactively screening patients presenting with injuries for alcohol consumption prior to their injury. In 2012, the data revealed that one in five of screened injury patients had consumed alcohol prior to their injury. Nearly a third of alcohol-related injuries were head injuries followed by injuries to the wrist and hand. Costs attributed to these injuries were in excess of $900,000”.
Given Northland’s demographics, and local data on alcohol harm, excessive consumption of alcohol is clearly a major “modifiable risk factor” that significantly affects the health and wellbeing of the Northland community. The position statement on alcohol harm also supports the development of Local Alcohol Plans by Councils in Northland and opportunities to reduce the accessibility and availability of alcohol.
Read the full position statement here.
Northland DHB Emergency Departments have partnered with the Health Promotion Agency promoting the ‘Yeah, Nah’ message: ‘YEAH I’m up for a good night out but NAH I don’t want to drink anymore’. Kaitaia and Whangarei staff will be wearing ‘Want to say NAH more often’ T-shirts’ on Friday and Saturday nights throughout summer, providing patients and their families with alcohol information packs and offering support from the Alcohol Drug Helpline.
The ED staff are urging people to think about their drinking and the consequence of not drinking responsibly. “We want to spread the message - ‘yeah have a good time but Nah you don’t want to end up in the Emergency Department”, said Margaret Dreadon, Nurse Manager, Whangarei Hospital Emergency Department. “It is difficult to see the pain in patient’s families when their loved ones are injured due to a preventable cause. The Emergency Department is really pleased to be part of this programme to empower patients, friends and families to say ‘Nah, too much alcohol will hurt us’. We want the public to have a safe and happy holiday without the need to visit us!”
Whangarei Emergency Department treated approximately 60 alcohol-related presentations a month over the peak of last summer. Presentations ranged from extensive injuries from motor vehicle crashes, facial and wrist damage from assaults and minor fractures from falls. “It’s sad when we have young people in the emergency department and we are trying to offer them help and we look over and the parents are drunk as well”, said Shelley Hita, Emergency Department Nurse, Kaitaia Hospital. “It’s about the families drinking culture and the messages they are sending to their kids”.
LEFT : -Kaitaia ED staff
Back Row: Cres Bao-os, Donna Stanisich,
Front Row: Fay Tomlin, Robyn Tepania, Shelly Hita
RIGHT: - Whangarei ED staff
Left to right – Sue Stebbeings, Erica Roos,
Margaret Dreadon, Raewyn Walker,
Juliet Hollis, Jill Mortimer, Kath Erai, Lisa Clement,
Wendy Wells, Jo Hunter
Read more about the initiative here.
Christmas is a time for celebration and for some, overindulgence in food and alcohol can be common at this time of year. Many people mistakenly believe that alcohol does not have any calories. In fact, with 7 calories per gram, the number of calories in alcohol is second only after fat (9 Cal/g). Calories from alcohol are 'empty calories', they have no nutritional value. Most alcoholic drinks contain traces of vitamins and minerals, but not usually in amounts that make any significant contribution to our diet. Mixers, juices and sweet syrups just add extra calories.
Drinking alcohol also reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy. While we can store nutrients, protein, carbohydrates, and fat in our bodies, we can't store alcohol. So our systems want to get rid of it, and doing so takes priority. All of the other processes that should be taking place (including absorbing nutrients and burning fat) are interrupted.
By cutting back on the amount you drink, it can significantly help to reduce your calorie intake. Another way to drink fewer calories is to opt for a low calorie mixer such as a diet coke or soda. Drinking water or low calorie soft drinks between alcoholic drinks is not only a good way to reduce your calorie intake but also helps to reduce the amount of units you’re drinking.
Check out the chart below to see the effects of some common alcoholic beverages – or try this online calorie counter to see how long you might have to walk for- just to burn off your favourite tipple.
Drinking alcohol has both immediate and long term health effects. Because people are different – there is no amount of alcohol that can be said to be safe for everyone.
Low risk drinking guidelines reflect the harms that might arise from single drinking occasions (where there is a risk of injury to self or others) and from the long term health consequences of regular drinking (such as increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver disease and addiction problems)*.
Current low risk drinking guidelines advise:
For young people:
· 2 standard drinks a day for women and no more than 10 standard drinks a week.
· 3 standard drinks a day for men and no more than 15 standard drinks a week.
AND… at least two alcohol-free days every week.
Reducing your drinking
· Stay busy. Don’t just sit and drink. Dancing, playing music or games can take the focus away from drinking.
*Did you know? - “Drinking as little as one pint of beer every day increases your risk of liver cancer and bowel cancer by about a fifth”.
When getting together
with friends or work colleagues, it is important to take steps to ensure that
everyone stays safe. Whether you are a host or a guest, you have rights and
responsibilities around alcohol and other drugs.
· Plan in advance how you are going to get home, and be prepared to change the plan if a designated driver is intoxicated.
The Health Promotion Agency’s Party Host Guide has been designed to provide some easy advice and great ideas for being a good host.
It has arrived!! The very popular Northland Whanau Pack free parenting resource has now been updated in a 3rd edition. In response to requests from throughout New Zealand, 25,000 copies of this unique Tai Tokerau resource have been printed and available for distribution to organisations working with parents, teenagers and whanau.
Project leader Dave Hookway says “We’ve been overwhelmed with requests for copies of the Whanau Pack and so were able to offer other organisations throughout the country the opportunity to obtain their own copies through the benefit of the larger print run. We are also able to supply free copies to health and community organisations based in Tai Tokerau.”
The new 3rd edition updates information around the supply of alcohol to minors as reflected by the new law changes which come into effect on the 18th December and addresses some of the feedback received in response to the earlier two editions.
Download an electronic copy by clicking on the link or the picture above. If you would like to order free copies of the Whanau Pack, click here (don’t forget to include your name, postal address and the number of booklets you would like).
Two new posters have been printed to complement the Whanau Pack. Both feature key messages promoted in the Whanau Pack and are available free upon request. Please click here if you would like to order some copies. Don’t forget to include your name, address and number of posters required.
The new posters form part of a set with the two posters below – which were released earlier this year. Limited stock is still available of these as well, and they too can be ordered here.
A new Health Committee report into improving child health outcomes and preventing child abuse calls on the Government to develop an action plan to address Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), and to require warning labels on alcohol products. It also recommends considering evidence-based controls on alcohol advertising and the introduction of pricing mechanisms to reduce alcohol-related harm back on the Government’s agenda.
Among the 130 detailed recommendations in the “Inquiry into improving child health outcomes and preventing child abuse with a focus from pre-conception to three years of age.” report, eight specifically called for urgent action around alcohol-related harm.
The formulation of evidence-based guidelines for low-risk alcohol consumption, to be promoted widely, with particular emphasis on alcohol cessation during pregnancy and pre-conception;
· A DHB target to see at least 90 per cent of all pregnant women booked in for antenatal assessment by 10 weeks gestation;
· Increased screening for alcohol misuse, and follow-up intervention in all Emergency Departments, all initial antenatal assessments, and for primary care/general practise settings;
· Unequivocal health warnings that include, at minimum, “alcohol causes brain damage to the unborn child”;
· Introducing a minimum price regime for alcohol beverages, focusing on the cheapest products available; and
· Raising the alcohol excise tax, in a strategic manner to minimise harm.
Click on the link highlighted above to access the full report.
Looking for ideas and evidence to support your Local Alcohol Policy submission?? A recent research seminar held in Auckland saw leading researchers from New Zealand and Australia reporting their findings on alcohol-related harm. The results were most interesting and highlighted good evidence around what can work and what doesn’t.
Dr Michael Cameron discussed the relationship between alcohol outlet density and measures of alcohol-related harm. (“The Locally Specific Impacts of Alcohol Outlet Density in the North Island of New Zealand 2006-2011”). Associate Professor Peter Miller showcased two major Australian studies – DANTE (“Dealing with Alcohol-related harm and the Night-Time Economy”) and POINTED (“Patron Offending and Intoxication in Night-Time Entertainment Districts”).
Click on any of the highlighted links to access full copies of the reports.
The Australasian Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Conference: A time to learn, a time to act, was held in Brisbane on November 19-20.
The conference outcomes and recommendations are outlined in this Call to Action document, which urges all health professionals, service providers, Governments and the community, to work together to reduce the prevalence of FASD and improve the quality of life of individuals and families living with FASD.
The Plenary Sessions from the Conference including that of Auckland District and Youth Court Judge Tony FitzGerald can be accessed on the Public Health Association Australia website.
Need more help?
If you are
concerned about your own drinking or that of someone close to you, contact
the free Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800-787-797 from 10am to 10pm or
Compiled and produced by:
Dave Hookway - Health Promotion Advisor - Alcohol and other Drugs
Northland District Health Board - 55 Hobson Ave, Kerikeri
Postal address: - PO Box 906, Kerikeri 0230, Bay of Islands
( Ph (09) 430-4101 x 7895 | Mob 021-221-4027 or Freephone 0800-537-4342 option #3
Click here to email
Thanks to the Australian Drug Foundation for some source material.