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Australia Day Heralds Alcohol Mayhem

Today is Australia's national holiday, but celebrations routinely get out of hand.

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Australia Day equals binge drinking
for many. Photo via

By Dirk Hanson

01/26/12

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If you live in Australia, today's your big moment. It’s Australia Day, the official national holiday and the biggest civic event of the year. But after studying 10 years' worth of records, Australia’s Drug and Alcohol Office announced that Australia Day might as well be known as Alcohol Mayhem Day. On this day, ambulances are twice as busy as normal, ferrying intoxicated under-25s to the hospital. According to Neil Guard, executive director of the Drug and Alcohol Office, "January the 26th is one of the worst days of the year for alcohol related violence, for assaults and for injuries." Last year, the government began experimenting with alcohol-free zones for the public event, and it's doing that again today. The beleaguered Mr. Guard told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation it's useful to remember that people can celebrate without drinking to excess. But it’s an uphill fight in a nation where binge drinking has long been tolerated—especially on Australia Day—and where the combination of booze and hot weather can make the problem worse. One factor working in sobriety’s favor this year: drenching rains down under, especially along the country’s heavily-populated East Coast. Brisbane’s festivities have been cancelled due to flood warnings.

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