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New Year’s Eve: How to celebrate safely

Glasses of Champaign in front of a clock nearing midnight and text that says New Year's Eve..

EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - The new year brings a time of resolution, reflection and readily saying farewell to the disaster that was 2020. As the world prepares for a new and hopefully much better year ahead, make sure you and your loved ones are celebrating without the risk of harm to yourself or others.

"With alcohol, virtually all the tissues in the body and data suggest that just one episode of binge drinking can compromise your functioning," said Marcy Hurlburt, a substance abuse counselor at the L.E. Phillips-Libertas Treatment Center.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking can lead to acute and chronic health conditions. These could be anything from forgetting what happened while you were drinking, commonly called blacking out, or could be more severe, such as pancreatitis or cancer.

"It would considerably make you high-risk for making unsafe choices such as sexual behaviors, potentially doing things you wouldn't normally do if you were sober, increases your impairment, more likely to drive, get into accidents," Hurlburt said.

Those risky behaviors are even more concerning this year, given the pandemic.

Health officials urge against gathering in places such as bars and restaurants, but if you still decide to go out on New Year's Eve, even just to a friend's house, make sure you have a safe way of getting home.

"Plan ahead if you're going out; make arrangements for travel," said Riley McLennan, an officer with the Eau Claire Police Department. "Have a designated driver, taxi or make arrangements for a Lyft or Uber."

Additional Eau Claire police officers will be out on New Year's Eve to account for the increased risk of drunk driving.

The NIAAA defines binge drinking as more than four drinks in a two-hour period for women, and more than five for men, but it varies based on your height and weight.

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