Charity warns against misuse

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Drug and alcohol charity the Base is warning people in Kirklees not to mix potentially harmful substances over the Christmas party season.

The charity, delivered by Crime Reduction Initiatives (CRI), said people drink more alcohol in December than any other month.

They are also more likely to drink heavily before they go out, lowering inhibitions and influencing decision-making.

Previous research has shown that 67.5 per cent of 18-year-olds who drink heavily have also tried an illicit drug.

Some younger teenagers who are drinking weekly are five times more likely to use dangerous drugs than teenagers who do not drink, they added.

Medical director at CRI Professor Oscar D’Agnone said: “Christmas and New Year is a time for celebration and many people drink more alcohol when attending parties and gatherings with family and friends.

“Increased drinking often means that people lose their inhibitions, and are therefore more likely to try party drugs. What people don’t always understand are the risks involved in mixing substances. Not only can people be left in vulnerable positions, which put their personal safety at risk, but mixing drugs and alcohol can lead to death.

“For example, mixing alcohol with cocaine can produce a toxic chemical called cocaethylene, which can make heart problems and sudden death around 18 times more likely.”

The charity also warn against the temptation to take “legal highs.” In the last eight months, CRI has seen a 190 per cent increase in the number of people visiting its services because of these, and said mixing them with other substances is particularly risky.

New psychoactive substance manager Michael Lawrence said: “We’re aware that the compilation of these substances is complicated and unknown. Adding an additional chemical, such as alcohol, into the mix, can further exacerbate the immediate and longer term impact for people. These can include: heart and bladder problems, mood swings, anxiety, accidental comas or death.”

The Base are offering tips for festive party-goers: Know your units (one unit of alcohol is equivalent to a single measure of a spirit and an averageglass of wine now includes at least two). Keep track of how much you are drinking. Alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks and water. And avoid drinking on an empty stomach.

Raj Ubhi, service manager of the Base, said: “We know that people want to enjoy themselves over the festive period, but we want people to be aware of how much they are drinking and the risks of trying another substance. If anyone is worried about drugs or alcohol you can speak to your GP or contact our drug and alcohol treatment service on 01484 541589.”