AS we move into the festive season, we are all prepared
to kick back and have a good time. Many of these year-end celebrations involve
alcohol, which if abused can have serious health repercussions – both for you
and those around you.
Alcohol abuse leads to risky behaviours such as
unprotected sex and often leads to aggression and violence.
A 2016 Health Systems Trust study conducted in in Nyanga
and Khayelitsha found that violence caused up to 20% of injuries. Young men
were most often the victims of these acts of violence and when alcohol was
involved, the rate of violent injuries was over four times higher than usual.
Alcohol also played a significant part in road
traffic-related injuries, such as drunken driving or intoxicated pedestrians
being injured. When alcohol was involved, the risk of a transport-related
injury was doubled. Not only does abuse of alcohol often lead to injury, but it
can also have a negative impact on your health in other ways as it can lead to
risk-taking such as sex with strangers, unprotected sex and even sexual
People who are HIV-positive should take particular care
of their health and be aware of how alcohol affects this. Some people who use alcohol forget to take
their HIV medication and this can lead to antiretroviral treatment being less
effective and increasing the chances of infecting a sexual partner. People who
have been drinking can also make themselves ill by taking their ARVs without
How should you
protect yourself in the festive season?
- Do not drink to excess or to the point where you are
out of control and using poor judgment.
- Always use a condom if you do choose to have sex.
- Do not drink and drive. Apart from the legal
consequences, you could be responsible for the deaths of your loved ones and
passengers, as well as other road-users.
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Don’t take ARVs or TB
medications on an empty stomach either.
If you or someone close to you has a problem with alcohol
or drugs, the following resources are available:
Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
Johannesburg: 08611 REHAB (73422) or (011) 673 0400 or sanca-jhb.org.za
Sanca – Western
Cape: (021) 945 4080/1 or www.sancawc.co.za
Social Development’s Substance Abuse Line
helpline: 0800 12 13 14 or SMS 32312