WIMMERA Drug Action Taskforce wants people to enjoy Christmas festivities without a focus on drinking.
Taskforce co-ordinator Sally Pymer said there was often increased expectation that alcohol consumption would rise during the festive season, but this did not have to be the case.
She said it was vital people were mindful of others’ decisions about drinking, and no one should feel pressured to drink.
“Christmas parties do not need to have a focus on sitting around and drinking, as there are other enjoyable family alternatives,” she said.
“Going ten-pin bowling, playing lawn bowls or participating in team-building activities can often be more memorable for the right reasons than waking up with a vague memory of something you might or might not have done.”
Ms Pymer said the festive season could be a difficult time of year for those spending it without loved ones, but consuming excessive alcohol or taking drugs was not the solution, and often left people feeling worse.
She encouraged people to also think about responsible gift-giving.
“Do they involve alcohol and do you assume everyone drinks alcohol?” she said.
“What messages does this give to your children? Buying presents not including alcohol is a simple and subtle change you can make.
“It might also pay to consider what messages your consumption gives to your children. Would they think holidays involve excessive alcohol consumption to have fun?
“The holiday period can be a great time to spend time with your children. Wouldn’t it be better by not waking up with a hangover?”
Ms Pymer said people should also consider the calorie content in alcohol drinks if they planned to celebrate with alcohol.
“Alcohol contains sugar and many drinks containing alcohol can have more calories than soft drinks,” she said.
“Alternating alcohol with water or low-calorie drinks might look better on the scales after the holiday period ends.
“The same goes for Santa. Santa needs to watch his weight and has many houses to go to. Leaving out healthy drinks and food might provide a more positive health message to you children than leaving beer and biscuits.”
Ms Pymer said it was vital anyone travelling during the holiday period did so responsibly.
“If venturing away from home, be sure to have a safe way home for you and your children if you are unable to drive,” she said.
“Harming yourself or others could make the holiday season very memorable for the wrong reasons for many years to come.”
Ms Pymer said people could call Grampians Community Health on 5358 7400 or Uniting Wimmera on 5362 4000 if they believed they had or knew someone with an alcohol or drug issue and wanted to discuss it.