The Festive Season is here! This is the one time in the year where excessive alcohol consumption hits the roof. There are already TV ads and movies portraying the jolly good, desirable and entertaining time you can have with booze this Christmas season.

Everyone will be having a good time this Xmas it seems, and the majority of those good times will most likely be alcohol-fuelled. Over-drinking will be the theme of the end of the year, with the suggestion that it wouldn’t be as ‘festive’ without booze. It’s become a habit for people to glorify excessive drinking that is a daily routine for some.

While most people know and realise the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption (liver failure and alcoholism) they still don’t know how to enjoy themselves with just taking a sip or two. For young adults this is the time of year where most of them have finished school, and can now legally buy alcohol over the counter. Those below the legal age limit for alcohol consumption (18-years-old), it’s also easy to obtain it (through illegal shebeens and house-bars).

I don’t mean to sound like a strict aunt but, did you know that excessive drinking is bad for your brain too? It affect affects the parts of the brain that are the biggest users of glucose, like the cerebellum, which helps with memory, coordination and balance. If you watch the news this time of the year, you see that 90% of road accidents are caused by drunk drivers. Abusing alcohol and all other substances is illegal and dangerous.

For many teens, drinking seems ‘cool’, but it gets you in a lot of trouble as well: unnecessary fights, reckless sexual behaviour, and for some, death due to alcohol poisoning, mixing alcohol with drugs, or terrible actions committed while under the influence. You’re allowed to have one or two glasses of alcohol if you’re the legal age to drink, but that doesn’t mean that you should abuse it.

Whatever happened to buying a two litre Coke and a couple of bags of chips as a group of friends, and enjoying each other’s company to the sound of music and feet shuffling on the dance floor? You can still have a good time and save money, as January is the month of financial hardship as we all know.

As we come closer to the end of the year, let us all consider our commitment to enjoy alcohol responsibly. Let us also take care of how we depict drinking in public and at home and try to enjoy the season for what it is, a time to be grateful for family, friends, and good health.

If you find yourself in a position where you need help due to alcohol abuse during and after the Festive Season call SADAG’s (SA Depression & Anxiety Group) 24hour helpline: 011 234 4837 to speak to one of their trained councillors.