It is deeply engrained in British culture, that alcohol consumption is an integral part of embracing the Christmas and New Year festivities. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a drink or two to celebrate the coming of Christ, and to welcome a New Year, right? Yes, but to an extent.

Binge drinking has major consequences.

When you imagine reckless drinking, you probably think of young people on a night out, but what you may be shocked to hear is that 45-75 year olds account for the majority: 51% of all alcohol-related hospital admissions. Surprisingly, 16-24 year old individuals are the least likely to be admitted. 55.4% of Richmond residents report being drunk in the last 4 weeks, the third highest in the country. The common perception of what age group constitutes "binge-drinking" is warped.

70% of all violent night-time crime during December and early January is alcohol-related. This damage, caused by drinking costs the UK £13 billion per year. During the holidays there is a sudden spike of 43% in injuries caused by alcohol, straining limited resources. With increasing funding cuts, how are our local hospitals expected to cope?Annually, alcohol-harms cost the NHS £3.5 billion. The total £16.5 billion spent could solve over half of all world hunger.

A 14 year old I interviewed, said that while at a New Years Eve party she was offered alcohol a total of 7 times. Should we be thrusting this destructive binge-drinking culture upon the future generation? Another interviewee remarked that on Christmas Eve they saw a drunken man rolling around in a Twickenham side road. This could have resulted in dangerous injuries. I also interviewed a nurse who is employed at a local hospital "Christmas creates a huge influx of intoxicated patients. They are hard to treat and clog our busy wards."

The point of this article isn't to say that you should never drink alcohol, just in careful moderation. I honestly can't stress enough how binge drinking eats up NHS funding, impairs your judgement and in extreme cases can lead to serious harm to you and others. This Christmas and New Year, be responsible and stay safe.