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City warns, too much alcohol-infused holiday cheer can be dangerous

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Getty Credit: Getty

There can be too much holiday cheer.

New Yorkers prepping for an egg nog- or champagne-infused whirlwind of holiday parties should beware of the dangers of over-imbibing, officials said Tuesday in unveiling a graphic subway ad campaign.

“Two drinks ago you could still get yourself home,” one sign reads with an image of a woman in a party dress slumped drunkenly in a stairwell. “Two drinks ago you would have walked away,” reads the second ad, which shows a man in business attire bloodied from a bar brawl.

The ads, which will run throughout the season, highlight the self-inflicted injuries that could result from overdoing the merriment. Other dangers range from an irregular heartbeat to driving drunk.

“The problem isn’t only alcoholism or long-term chronic alcohol use,” said Daliah Heller, an assistant city health commissioner. “It’s also injuries related to alcohol consumption like falling down stairs or tipping off the sidewalk.”

The number of emergency room visits around New Year’s Day is double that of any other time of year, according to the city health department. Year round, 25 percent to 40 percent of ER visits are alcohol-related.

The city’s bars and clubs also will be on the lookout for excessive drinkers, said the New York Nightlife Association.

“I would say ... that servers and owners are more vigilant — because they do get people who drink just once a year — of underage drinkers and more-intoxicated people,” said association counsel Robert Bookman.

In scary, albeit rare, instances, those tossing back holiday shots who abstain the rest of the year can suffer "holiday heart syndrome," an irregular heartbeat brought on by alcohol.

Found most often in young and otherwise healthy men, the ailment can lead to blood clots, strokes and even death, said Brooklyn electrophysiologist Dr. Adam Budzikowski.

“It’s something that happens once in a blue moon, that you drink so much,” Budzikowski said.

A fate that’s more common during the holidays is death by drunken driving. On Christmas, 52 percent of fatal collisions are alcohol-related and on New Year’s, that rate is 57 percent compared to 41 percent for the rest of the year, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

New Yorkers agreed Tuesday that there is greater temptation during the holidays with colleagues offering up endless cups of cheer, and the ads are a good reminder that too much alcohol may take the jolly out of the season.

“I don’t know how much effect it’s going to have on the public, but it’s a good move to remind people ... to take care of themselves,” said Chris Williams, 23 of Manhattan.

Caution should be practiced yearround, said Caren Osten Gerszberg, the Westchester-based co-editor of the drinkingdiaries.com.

“There’s more occasion to be faced with drinking now, but that doesn’t mean that it’s dangerous as long as you know your limits, as you should all year round,” she said. “The temptation is always there.”

(With Tim Herrera)

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