As the holiday season approaches with its many social activities, safe and moderate consumption of alcohol or any other potentially harmful substance is highly recommended. Do not spoil your or your family’s enjoyment by irresponsible substance abuse.

Studies have shown that as many as 90% adults in the RSA have had experience with alcoholic beverages, and 60% of males and 30% of females have had one or more alcohol-related adverse life event.

The following tips are recommendations for a safe festive season:

  • Do not drink and drive, use heavy machinery or combine alcohol with other medications. Alcohol impairs the ability to react, causes drowsiness and affects judgment. According to statistics, about three in 10 South Africans will be involved in an alcohol-related car accident at some time in their lives.
  • People with a family history of alcoholism, or a prior history of alcohol abuse, are at increased risk of alcoholism. People in recovery from an alcohol-related disorder should not drink – even small amounts of alcohol typically lead to relapse. More than one-half of South African adults have direct family experience with alcohol-related problems, which cost the country dearly in the loss of lives and other damages. People who are younger than the legal drinking age should not consume alcohol.
  • Pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant should not drink at all. Alcohol consumption interferes with growth and development of the foetus, causing reduced birth weight, birth defects, learning and behaviour disorders and new-born distress.
  • For most adults, moderate alcohol use – up to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women and older people – generally does not result in health problems. However, alcoholism, or alcohol addiction, is a progressive disorder and a very high percentage of people in the age group 12 or older is classified as being dependent on alcohol or had abused alcohol.

Symptoms of alcoholism

Alcoholism may include the following symptoms: craving – a strong need or urge to drink; loss of control – not being able to stop once drinking has begun; physical dependence – withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating, shakiness; and tolerance – the need to drink greater amounts to get “high” or experience and altered state of mind.

If you or a loved-one is struggling with an alcohol-related addiction, consult with a medical doctor for more information about possible treatment options and where to find a psychiatric physician in your area.

Our Employee Wellbeing Programme (EWP) is available 24 hours if you want to discuss the dangers of substance abuse.