Christmas partygoers are being warned not to put themselves at risk – while those who overdo it during their festive celebrations could face a fine for disorder.
As the festive season gears up, with bars and restauarants seeing an influx of office Christmas parties, police officers and healthcare professionals fear an increased workload as a result of people drinking too much.
Suffolk Police has launched Operation Staysafe, with extra officers patrolling the streets during the Christmas period, in a bid to cut down alcohol-related crime.
Healthcare professionals at NHS Suffolk are warning of the dangers of alcohol misuse and staff in the accident and emergency department at West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, are bracing themselves for an influx of casualties suffering from acute intoxication and injuries caused by drunken behaviour.
Martin Hunt, accident and emergency consultant, said the hospital often had to carry out head scans if someone fell over while drunk as they couldn't tell the difference between the effects of the alcohol or the injury.
Mr Hunt said: "Patients in the winter months tend to be more difficult and take more time because of the nature of the injuries. Sometimes we have to sedate people for their own good.
"Then there's the road accidents that occur as it may be the person who is intoxicated that becomes injured or it may be the person they run into.
"If there's a knife involved in an assault and someone is less in control, it will result in somebody else being badly injured.
"There are also cases of people at parties, trying to walk home, just sitting down in the cold and freezing to death."
Inspector Ben Cook, of Suffolk Police's crime reduction team, advised partygoers to be safe and look out for others in their group.
"We're very mindful that during this season, people have fun but can overdo it and put themselves at risk," he said.
"People may become perpetrators of crime, doing things they wouldn't normally because they're not thinking straight, or they can let their guard down and do things such as accepting lifts from strangers.
"We want people to enjoy themselves without putting themselves at risk or spoiling it for other people."
He said officers would issue 80 fixed penalty notices for low-level disorder and will support bars that refuse to serve customers who are too drunk.
Dr Amanda Jones, NHS Suffolk's deputy director of public health, said alcohol misuse – which is linked to illnesses such as liver disease and some cancers, and causes many accidents – created an extra burden on the NHS, with an estimated 97,000 people misusing alcohol in Suffolk.
Doctors advise drinking no more than three to four units a day for men and two to three units for women.
"There are always issues around excessive drinking, but I think people are perhaps more likely to drink excessively around Christmas and New Year," Dr Jones said.
"It's a huge problem for the NHS.
It’s very easy, if you don’t monitor yourself, to drink too much.
“People think it doesn’t apply to them, but I think if they looked at what they drink over a week, a lot of people would get a rather unpleasant shock.”
n In a separate campaign, police officers will also be clamping down on drink and drug-driving during December.
Officers will be breath-testing anyone involved in a collision, while roadside checks on motorists will also be stepped up in a bid to cut the number of accidents caused by drink-driving.