Time for a nuanced view on alcohol?

It's all a bit confusing

There are so many articles, studies and programmes out there on the benefits and dangers of alcohol. So what’s the truth?

Probably a balanced view is best. We know that the UK Chief Medical Officer (CMO) recommends a limit of 14 units of alcohol for both men and women a week, spread through the week. And with campaigns like Dry January, it’s great to take a break occasionally. But a new study suggests any alcohol is too much. This appears to be because most people don't stop at one, e.g. British men and women drink on average three drinks a day each.

Overall, perhaps a little alcohol now and then for most people is fine and some studies propound its cardiovascular protective benefits. However, too much alcohol has lots of negative health effects including (and not limited to) physical problems with the liver, kidneys and heart as well as an increased risk of cancer. It can also make you put on weight and make mental health problems worse.

Each individual will ultimately know if they are drinking too much or have a problem with alcohol:

  • Perhaps it’s when having a drink becomes more important than other things in your life – like family, work, plans, etc
  • Perhaps when you feel you need a drink - for any reason
  • Perhaps it’s when drinking becomes a solitary habit
  • Perhaps when drinking is costing you more than money
  • Perhaps it’s when other people express concern about your drinking.

As Gravitz and Bowden wrote, “The primary symptom of having it [alcoholism] is telling everyone--including yourself--that you are not an alcoholic.”

If you think alcohol may be a problem, there’s lots of support out there and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. 7% of adults in England regularly drink over the guidelines above and 2.5 million people report drinking over 14 units on their heaviest drinking days, so you are not alone. However, alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among 15-49 year-olds in the UK, and the fifth biggest risk factor across all ages, so it's not worth ignoring if you think you may have a problem.

Duradiamond Healthcare provides occupational health and wellbeing services to organisations and their people across the UK, including workshops and awareness sessions on alcohol. Speak to us today.

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