Be honest - how much are you drinking?
Drinking alcohol is something most people think makes them feel good, but if the amount of alcohol you are drinking isn’t kept in check it can soon become a problem. This week is Alcohol Awareness Week so GPs in Southwark are encouraging local people to thinking about how much they are drinking and the warning signs to look out for.
When people drink alcohol they risk both the direct damage it does to their body and the effect it has on their behaviour – it makes you much more likely to put yourself in harms way. Alcohol is the cause of well over a million admissions to hospital every year. The daily recommended sensible drinking limits are that men should not regularly drink more than three to four units of alcohol per day while women should not regularly drink more than two to three units of alcohol per day. In addition it is important to have at least two drink free days a week to let your body, and especially your liver, recover from the effects of alcohol. One unit is half a pint of beer, a small glass of wine or a single measure of spirits.
Dr Jonty Heaversedge, a GP lead for NHS Southwark CCG said “The health risks from drinking too much are sobering indeed – from more obvious short term problems like severe hangovers and dehydration, to liver disease and even increased risks of certain cancers. It’s not just the physical damage alcohol can cause, it impairs our judgement which can cause accidents or arguments, and regular alcohol use can lead to depression and memory loss. It’s not easy to live with people who have a drinking problem either.”
He added: “If your body is giving you ‘warning signs’ then it is time to put your health first and take action: do you need a drink or find it hard to stop or go without one? Do you suffer from shakes or sweating? Is drinking starting to interfere with your work or relationship? Be honest with yourself. Keep a diary of your drinking and add up those units to get the full picture.”
If your use of alcohol is putting your wellbeing and family life at risk, you can take stock and get some help. Visit www.downyourdrink.org.uk to check if you’re drinking within safe limits or need to cut back on the booze.
It can be hard to cut back on alcohol. If you’ve become dependent on drink you may need support to overcome your addiction. Some people drink to help you deal with difficulties at home or at work - it can help to speak to a counsellor or therapist to find new ways of coping with the stresses of everyday life.
Speak to your GP about help available, or if you’d prefer you can get confidential advice at Drinkline on 0800 917 8282.