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Alcohol Awareness Week

Alcohol awareness week

For many people in the UK alcohol is a pleasant accompaniment to social activities when consumed within safe limits. However, when used to excess it is also an addictive drug and a major cause of ill health and social distress. In line with alcohol change we are going to be raising awareness and campaigning for change in the UK. Alcohol awareness week is all about getting the public to think about their drinking habits. This year the theme is Alcohol and relationships. 

This will take place on the 15th November 2021 right until the 21st of November 2021. However we want to use this week as a start to many peoples journey into reconsidering the amount of alcohol they drink throughout their lives rather than just the week.

Alcohol and relationships

There is a strong association between alcohol and relationships. Alcohol itself can be used as a means of socialising and can become an integral part of connecting with those around us. It can also be used as a get away from the current life situation or to relax ones mind. However, one a loved ones drinking starts to negatively affect relationships or stops us from taking action on our own drinking, this could lead to a huge impact on our lives.

The pandemic has created conditions where people are drinking more heavily and more often than usual, leaving many people struggling to cope and at risk of serious alcohol harm. 

So for Alcohol Awareness Week, we will be looking at ways in which alcohol can affect our relationships by sharing key facts, stories and more.

Meet Carolyn Musgrave this Alcohol Awareness Week

Key Facts:

The UK Chief Medical Officers’ Low Risk Drinking Guidelines were issued in August 2016 following a review by experts of available evidence regarding the health effects of alcohol. The following recommendations are made for both men and women:

  • To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
  • If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days.
  • If you have one or two heavy drinking episodes a week, you increase your risks of death from long-term illness and from accidents and injuries.
  • The risk of developing a range of health problems (including cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) increases the more you drink on a regular basis.
  • If you wish to cut down the amount you drink, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days each week.

To see a full list of health effects of alcohol please click here.

Stories:

Charlotte Webb

Charlotte Webb opens up about her experiences of alcoholism and being trapped in toxic cycle of binge drinking and withdrawal. After realising she needed help, she reached out to Recovery Near You who supported her to give up drinking and move on with her life. Read the full blog here.

” As I entered my early 30s, my type of drinking changed. It became more of a crutch for the work stresses I was under, including greater pressures and workplace bullying. One glass of wine turned into two, escalating to three, then a bottle which became two bottles. Eventually, at the height of my alcoholism, I was drinking in excess of three bottles of 12% wine every single night.”

“I would wake up in the morning with shakes, sweats, nausea, all because I was withdrawing from alcohol; my body needed it!”

“In October 2017, at the age of 35, I finally sought out the help I so desperately needed. The Recovery Near You team provided me with a fantastic support worker called Hannah. I’d see her once a week to talk through all manner of things: my drinking habits, how to change them, triggers, managing these triggers and removing obstacles from my life. The time, tools and mindset that Hannah gave me were absolutely fundamental to me eventually quitting alcohol.”

“It’s been three years since I quit drinking alcohol, during which I lost three stone in weight and gained a much longer lifetime of wonderful experiences. I have also set up my business, CBW Fine Art and Illustrations, and I’ve been able to travel with family and new friends (albeit not in the last 12 months). I can honestly say my life has never been better. Everything I do now is for me and my loved ones. I genuinely don’t miss drinking and can’t stand the smell now.”

Ways to control your drinking:

When and how much alcohol we drink can become a habit and it may take time and willpower to change this.

Keep track

Keep track of how much alcohol you are drinking and when you are drinking it. A diary is a useful way of recording this and will help you work out times when you might be drinking too much.

Work out the number of units you are drinking. This is a more accurate way of looking at your alcohol intake than the number of drinks you have had. For example, you may think you have done well by only having two glasses of wine but this could be as much as five units of alcohol depending on the size of the glass and the strength of the wine.

Cutting down

If you are drinking too much and you want to cut down you can make some simple changes that will help:

  • On the days that you plan to drink, set yourself a limit and try to stick to it.
  • Do not drink on an empty stomach. Eating before you drink will make you feel full more quickly and so you are likely to drink less.
  • Start drinking later on; try setting a time before which you will not have any alcohol. Equally, it may help to set a time when you will stop drinking.
  • Look at the strength and size of your drink. Try having a smaller glass, adding a mixer or choosing a drink with lower alcohol content.
  • Try not to drink in rounds; pace yourself rather than trying to keep up with others.
  • Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

For further alternatives to drinking please click here.

Q/As

How long does alcohol stay in your system?

  • It takes the liver an hour to process one unit of alcohol (after an initial 30 minutes). 1 unit is 10ml or 8gm of pure alcohol (ethanol). ABV (Alcohol By Volume) – % is the proportion of alcohol in a bottle or a can. The higher the ABV the more units in the bottle or can. So 1 double (50ml) measure of 40%abv spirit is 2 units and would take 2.5 hours to be processed.  This is only an approximation though as factors such as the condition of a person’s liver or how much they have had to eat can affect these processing times.

How many units of alcohol per week?

  • Advise to drink within government guidelines of 14 units per week for male and female with three consecutive days in between which equals:

    6 x 175ml (medium) glasses of 12% ABV wine

    5 pints of 4.8% ABV beer

    14 x 25ml of 40% ABV (single shot)

Am i an alcoholic?

  • We do not tend to use this term now. However, if you are experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms eg  Shaking and sweating, Feeling anxious and agitated, Feeling sick, vomiting, diarrhoea, Extreme confusion: Trouble knowing where you are, what day it is and having problems with their memory, Hallucinations: They may hear or see things that are not there, fits (seizures) where they collapse, become unconscious and have uncontrolled body movements then you may be alcohol dependant.

Is alcohol a drug?

  • Alcohol could be classed as a legal drug

how much alcohol is too much?

  • Anything above government guidelines or that impacts on the individuals well-being or that of others i.e. drink driving, the ability to care for children, personal relationships.

How to stop drinking alcohol?

  • Keep track of your drinking

  • Reduce the alcohol percentage of what is being drunk

  • Drink alcohol with a meal.

  • Add soft drinks between alcoholic drinks

  • Have an exit plan for social events or trips to the pub (arrive late leave early)

How to help an alcoholic?

  • Direct to support services once they recognised there is a problem.  Call recovery Near You on 0200 200 2400 for further advice or information.

What does alcohol do to your body?

Brain:Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways leading to a form of alcohol related dementia call Korsakoff Syndrome.

Long term use on a single occasion can damage the heart, causing problems including:

  • Cardiomyopathy – Stretching and drooping of heart muscle
  • Arrhythmias – Irregular heart beat
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure

Liver:Heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver, and can lead to a variety of problems and liver inflammations including:

  • Steatosis, or fatty liver
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Fibrosis
  • Cirrhosis

Cancer

Alcohol drinking can cause several types of cancer.

The higher his or her risk of developing an alcohol-associated cancer. Even those who have no more than one drink per day and binge drinkers (those who consume 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more.