In January 2016 new guidelines on alcohol consumption, drawn up by the Chief Medical Officers of the UK, were published.
There are three main issues on which revised or new guidance is given:
- guidance on regular drinking
- guidance on single drinking sessions
- guidance on drinking in pregnancy
Visit the NHS Choices website for further information on the guidance and reasons why it was updated
Drinking alcohol safely
are safest not to drink regularly more than 14 units per week, to keep
health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level.
- If you do
drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread this evenly
over 3 days or more. If you have one or two heavy drinking sessions, you
increase your risks of death from long term illnesses and from accidents
- The risk
of developing a range of illnesses (including, for example, cancers of the
mouth, throat and breast) increases with any amount you drink on a
- If you
wish to cut down the amount you’re drinking, a good way to help
achieve this is to have several drink-free days each week.
Women should not drink at all.
Drinkaware 'alcohol limits and unit guidelines' webpages offers comprehensive information
Why the Change?
Did you know that alcohol is linked to over 70 medical conditions and is the third biggest lifestyle risk factor after smoking? Alcohol
harms affect more than just the liver, causing high blood pressure with links
to diabetes, depression and cancers (including bowel, throat, breast, liver,
mouth & stomach).
contributes 10% to the burden of death and disease in England.
What consequences can excessive alcohol consumption have?
becomes a permanent feature in a person’s life, it’s not just the drinker that
feels the effect - surrounding family and friends do too. Drinking habits can
often become a source of arguments and lead to relationship issues. Emotional
and financial consequences are also common.
These pressures can lead to unemployment, debt, family and relationship
breakdowns and depression.
Excessive alcohol consumption also increases the risk of heart disease, strokes and men who drink a lot of alcohol may affect the quality and quantity of their sperm. The NHS provides specific information on monitoring alcohol levels here
Alcohol is also a depressant slowing the function of the central nervous system and altering a person's perceptions, emotions, movement, vision, and hearing. There is also a strong link between excessive alcohol consumption and depression and anxiety. For more information click here
Alcohol is an often ignored source of excess calories, contributing towards obesity, for example 250mls of red wine contains 195 calories, equal to one slice of sponge cake. For more information click here
To enjoy a drink whilst staying within safe levels try:
- Having a smaller drink such as a smaller bottle of beer over a can or a smaller glass of wine rather than a large one.
- Wine glasses today are bigger than ever and can easily hold a third of a bottle.
- Switching to a lower-strength drink - go for one with lower alcohol content (Compare the %ABV).
- Having a drink with a mixer such as diet coke or tonic water - Adding a mixer will make your drink last longer.
- Making every other drink non-alcoholic - Take a break between drinking and have a soft drink or glass of water.
Free Alcohol Test
If you are
concerned about your drinking, take the free alcohol test at Don’t Bottle It
Information courtesy of NHS Choices Alcohol Support webpages:
"Realising you have a problem with alcohol is the first big
step to getting help.
You may need help if:
- you often feel the need to have a drink
- you get into trouble because of your drinking
- other people warn you about how much you're drinking
- you think your drinking is causing you problems
A good place to start is with your GP. Try to be accurate
and honest about how much you drink and any problems it may be causing you".
"Your GP may suggest different types of assessment and support options available to you such as from the local community alcohol services".
Visit the NHS Choices Alcohol Support webpages for more information and useful contacts for alcohol problems.
Resources and Information
To read a Health Matters blog on Harmful drinking and alcohol dependence click here
Drinkaware has a website with lots of facts about alcohol, understanding your drinking and how to make a change go to www.drinkaware.co.uk.
Alcohol Concern - Alcohol Concern was founded in 1984 as the national charity working to help reduce the problems that can be caused by alcohol. More info here
Alcohol Concern also facilitate a public campaign called 'Dry January'. Dry January is the annual movement through which millions of people give up alcohol for the month of January.
Doing Dry January:
Enables you to take control of your relationship with alcohol.
Drives a conversation about alcohol: why do we drink it, what does it do, and how can we reduce the harm it can cause?
Alcohol Concern brings together an amazing network of individuals and organisations, including partner charities who work on issues associated with alcohol. "Together, we will reduce the harm caused by alcohol".
The medical journal 'the Lancet' has produced a report which found that between 1980 and 2013, deaths from liver disease in the UK increased by four times. To read the report click here.
The NHS Choices Drinking and Alcohol webpages has lots of information about drinking and alcohol, including calculating calories, units and tips on cutting down.
RISE offers a pathway to Recovery for adults with alcohol problems in Ealing as well as general alcohol advice.
To find a local group for support please visit the website.
PHE Alcohol Learning Resources. Although meant for health professionals, this training can be adapted to community settings and those trained and comfortable giving MECC conversations. Registration required.