By Kirra Grimes
AS February draws to a close, signalling the end of the increasingly popular ‘Febfast’ challenge, local health practitioners are urging the community to keep in mind the wide-ranging effects of excessive alcohol consumption.
The new year prompts many people to reflect on their life and health, and commit to positive changes.
Dr Dan Crompton, Clinical Director of Emergency Services at Bass Coast Health, says those considering whether it’s time to address the level of their alcohol consumption can benefit from taking into account the far-reaching impacts of excessive drinking.
One example is the impact on emergency workers tasked with responding to alcohol-related issues including injuries from falls, motor vehicle accidents, and assaults, as well as clinical intoxication, and mental and behavioural disturbances.
Recent studies by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) have found that one in eight presentations in emergency departments (EDs) across Australia/New Zealand is related to alcohol, and that 92 per cent of ED doctors and nurses have experienced assaults or physical threats from drunk patients. And 98 per cent have experienced alcohol-related verbal aggression.
Dr Crompton, a fellow of the ACEM, confirmed that due to the volume and nature of presentations, alcohol and drug-affected patients significantly contribute to the ED workload at Wonthaggi and adversely impact the way most EDs function, with detrimental effects on staff, other patients and accompanying persons.
“The fact is, the harm from alcohol and other drugs is not just to ourselves, but also to our communities,” Dr Crompton said.
“It’s a really big problem. Apart from the personal health effects, the impact on the families and friends who carry the burden of care, there’s also the police, ambulance, community and
hospital staff that have a duty to look after the alcohol and drug-affected. The impact is quite big on services. It affects workers in a negative way, and the care of other patients is affected,” he said.
Bass Coast Health offers a range of services to assist people concerned about their own or a loved one’s use of alcohol and other drugs.
A team of qualified and experienced drug and alcohol counsellors provide services including counselling; care and recovery coordination; referrals to residential detox facilities and rehabilitation facilities; non-residential withdrawal support with a withdrawal nurse; and family support.
“The Drug and Alcohol team continually identify, evaluate, develop and implement programs suitable to the individual, family members and community needs,” Dr Crompton said.
Access to these services is via the Australian Community Support Organisation (1300 022 760). No referral is required.