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The real cost of alcohol...

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

With the warm weather we have been having recently our thoughts may turn to beer gardens, boozy barbeques or cracking open a nice cold beer or chilled white wine at the end of the day. This is can be a great way to wind down and relax with friends and family but it can also be easy for this to become a daily activity and for some who find it difficult to moderate their drinking can become a problem.

The week commencing 3rd July is alcohol awareness week and the theme this year is Alcohol and cost. Not just the financial cost implication but the social and personal cost that comes with alcohol dependancy issues. You can find out more about this campaign here.

Many of us enjoy an alcoholic bevarage but what are the signs that alcohol is becoming a bit more of a problem? Maybe you do some of the following:

o Do you think about alcohol during the day? Have you perhaps set a time after work that its acceptable to pour that first glass of wine but often bring that time forward if it’s say a Friday or been a particularly tough, good or busy day?

o Do you find yourself arguing with your spouse when it comes to a night out over who’s turn it is to drive & do thoughts go through your mind that if you can’t drink while you are there then you may as well stay home because ...well…. at least you can have a drink?

o Do you often have a couple of drinks at home after work & hide the evidence so when your partner or housemate gets home later you can suggest opening a bottle of wine as if it’s the first of the night?

o Are you always the one trying to persuade others to stay for one more and have you stopped mixing with friends and colleagues who are teetotal for fear they are judging you?

If any of this sounds familiar, then it could be that you are drinking too much and your relationship with alcohol is a little unhealthy. You don’t have to be staggering home from the off-licence swigging out of a paper bag & slurring your speech to have a drink problem, it can be more subtle and creep up on you over time.

Both men and women are now advised to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week spread over 3 days or more, that’s just under 1.5 bottles of wine or 6 pints of average strength beer.

You can assess your own drinking habits here and if you are concerned you should speak to your GP or contact one of your local support groups

But is alcohol really causing that much harm? & What are the benefits of having a break from alcohol?

Regularly drinking over the recommended 14 units per week over a 10-20 year period can greatly increase your chances of developing the following:

  • Cancers including mouth, throat & breast

  • Stroke, heart disease, liver disease

  • brain damage, damage to the nervous system

  • poor mental health

Drinking too much too quickly on any single occasion can increase your risk of

  • accidents occasionally resulting in death

  • engaging in risky behaviours

  • losing self-control, like having unprotected sex or getting involved in violence

The impact of alcohol can affect your family & friends & affect the ability to carry out your job properly & in some cases safely.

So what happens when you take a break from the booze? One of the main things people report is better quality sleep which in turn results in more energy and being less tired during the day, better concentration, less anxiety.

Longer term benefits can include lower blood pressure, lower risk of stroke, hypertension, cancer and liver disease, lower cholesterol levels, improved mood and mental health & help with weight management.

Not to mention all that money you can save!! 💰💰💰

If you would like to take some action to monitor your drinking and get things under control you could try the Drink Coach APP

Some people also take the opportunity to take part in Dry January consuming NO alcohol for the 31 days of January. This not only allows our organs to detox but can also be a reset of your relationship with alcohol and maybe a way to form new habits. You could pick any month to take a break, how about Alcohol free August or No Booze November?

A word of warning before you stop drinking if you have physical withdrawal symptoms (like shaking, sweating or feeling anxious until you have your first drink of the day) you MUST get medical advice when attempting to stop. It can be dangerous to stop drinking too quickly without proper help.

Talk to a People at Work first responder and find out how we can be part of your wellbeing support.

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