A little Christmas cheer is fine, but over-indulging means you could be in for a bad time.
That was the warning today from Health Minister Ian Taylor, at the launch of a $300,000 Drinksafe campaign to encourage drinkers to moderate their use of alcohol over the festive season.
The new Drinksafe message will concentrate on binge drinking, which is a particularly dangerous way to abuse alcohol, and it will target drinkers aged 25-44, who are at high risk.
"The campaign is timely, because this is the season when most of us tend to over-indulge - and with alcohol the results of over-doing it can be fatal," Mr Taylor said.
"Recent research has revealed that in the 10 years from 1981 to 1990, alcohol killed 4,291 people in Western Australia. In 1990 alone, there were 459 alcohol-caused deaths in WA," he said.
"People in the 25-44 age group are at high risk because alcohol-related deaths in this group are overwhelmingly related to 'external' incidents such as assault and suicide.
"In 1990 there were 68 alcohol-related deaths in this age group - 89 per cent of them the results of 'external' causes such as road injuries, suicide, assault, alcohol poisoning, drowning, falls and machine injuries."
The Minister said the injury toll was equally serious. In 1990 there were 4,216 hospital discharges as a direct result of alcohol abuse. Of these, 70 per cent (2,916) resulted from external causes, a very large number of them in the 25-44 age group.
In financial terms, almost $17 million was spent in 1990 on hospital care for people who abused alcohol - $11.5 million of it spent on alcohol-caused injuries.
"These horrendous human and financial costs must be reduced," Mr Taylor said.
"That is why the new Drinksafe campaign is being run, and why it is scheduled for this time of the year when long, warm evenings and the festive season combine to encourage the sort of binge-drinking that leads to such problems," he said.
"It will use the strong motivations of embarrassment and regret to drive home the negative effects of thoughtless behaviour like binge-drinking.
"Our testing has shown this to be a very influential message and we are confident that our campaign will be effective in reducing binge-drinking."
The campaign will run for three weeks up to Christmas, another three weeks in January, and two weeks in February.