November 15-21st marks Alcohol Awareness week, which is coordinated by Alcohol Change UK with involvement from GPs, pharmacies, hospitals and community teams.
The aim is to raise awareness of the problems associated with alcohol and to signpost support.
Do you really know how much you drink?
Facts and figures
In England there are an estimated 600,000 dependent drinkers, of which only 18% are receiving treatment. 24% of adults regularly drink above the recommended amount, and 27% binge drink on their heaviest drinking days (classified as over 8 units for men, and 6 units for women).
In 2020, there were 7,423 alcohol-specific deaths (13 per 100,000 people), a 19.6% increase from 2019.
It is recommended to consume a maximum 14 units a week to keep health risks from alcohol to a low level, and to spread these units across three or more days. It is called low-risk drinking as there is no ‘safe’ drinking level. It is recommended that no alcohol is consumed during pregnancy due to effects on the foetus.
Alcohol misuse is the biggest factor for illness, disability and death among 15-49 year olds. There are numerous risks to health associated with many years of excessive drinking including:
• Cancers of mouth, throat, breast
• Heart disease
• Liver disease
• Brain damage
• Damage to nervous system
• Mental health and dependency.
There are also risks associated with ‘single session’ drinking:
• Accidents and injuries
• Misjudging risky situations
• Losing self-control.
Ways to reduce health risks
• Limit how much you drink
• Drink more slowly and with food
• Alternate with water or non-alcoholic drinks.
Signs you may need help with cutting down:
• Often feel a need to have a drink
• Get into trouble because of drinking
• Other people warn you about how much you are drinking
• You think your drinking is causing problems.
Please see your GP for support. If you have physically become dependent on drinking, stopping overnight can be harmful, so please seek support, especially if you experience withdrawal symptoms, including:
• Sweating and tremors
• Nausea or retching in the morning
• Anxiety after waking
alcoholchange.org.uk offers a lot of resources including unit calculator and questionnaires.
Drinkline : 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am-8pm, weekends 11am-4pm)