Some people find that drinking is a pleasurable aspect of their lives which they can moderate For some people, drinking can lead to social and health problems in the short and long term. To find out more about the risks associated with drinking over the recommended limits and how to successfully reduce your drinking, read on.
Remember you can call Drinkline on 0800 917 8282 (free from a landline but mobile charges will vary) for 24 hour support.
The NHS recommend that:
- men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units per day
- women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units per day
If you are regularly drinking above these recommended daily limits, you are at an increased risk of experiencing alcohol-related harm.
Women regularly drinking more than two large glasses of wine (13%) a day are:
- 2 times as likely to have high blood pressure
- 50% more likely to get breast cancer
Men regularly drinking more than two pints of strong lager (5.2%) are:
- 3 times more likely to get mouth cancer
- 3 times more likely to have a stroke
Below is a visual guide of the how many units popular drinks contain. You may be surprised by some of the figures. Did you know that a medium (175ml) glass of 12% wine contains double the units in a single (25ml) spirit (40%)? It is important to remember that glasses and bottles come in very different sizes and that this affects the number of units you're drinking: e.g. a small glass (125ml) of 12% wine has around 2 units, whereas a large glass (250ml) of 12% wine has around 3 units.
Drinking at Home
When drinking at home, it is easy to lose track of how much you are drinking. With no measures and no waits at the bar, you can top up whenever and however much you want. With spirits in particular, people often pour triple measures without realising.
How much are you drinking? How much we drinking often varies from week to week and month to month. However, some people, who have been drinking above the recommended limits for an extended period, find that their drinking pattern becomes more fixed and that alcohol becomes an increasingly important part of their everyday life.
This tool, known as AUDIT, was created by the Department of Health and the World Health Organisation and is endorsed by numerous studies.
What risk category are you?
If you scored below 7 on the Alcohol Self-Assessment, you are at Lower Risk and unlikely to suffer harm from alcohol if you continue to drink moderately or abstain. Keep up the good work!
If you scored between 8 and 15 on the Alcohol Self-Assessment, you are at Increasing Risk. Drinking at this level may lead to alcohol-related harm. How do you feel about that?
If you scored between 16 and 19 on the Alcohol Self Assessment, you are at Higher Risk. How do you feel about that? You may already be experiencing harm as a result of your drinking and are at risk of becoming dependent on alcohol.
If you scored 20 or above on the Alcohol Self Assessment, you are at High Risk and may be dependent on alcohol. You are likely to experienced alcohol-related harm and your score suggests that you need specialist support from HAGA to help reduce your drinking and the related harms. If you are a Haringey resident and over 18, call HAGA on 0208 800 6999 between 10.15am and 1.00pm Monday to Thursday to discuss accessing support through our range of services.
For more information on what support we offer, visit our Services pages.
The table to the left below shows national statistics on risk levels. By looking at this, you can see where you sit compared to others.
Benefits of cutting down
Reduced risks of
Reduced risk of
Better physical shape
Reduced risk of high
Reduced risk of
Reduced risks of
Reduced risks of
Tips for cutting down
an alcohol free-day once or twice a week
activities and tasks at those times you would usually drink
bored or stressed have a workout instead of drinking
other interests such as cinema, exercise etc
going to the pub after work
you first drink after starting to eat
your thirst with non-alcohol drinks before and in-between alcoholic drinks
drinking in rounds or large groups
to low alcohol beer / lager
you do drink, set yourself a limit and stick to it
or limit the time spent with ?heavy? drinking friends
Make your own plan for cutting down
How do you think you might cut down? Have you ever cut down successfully on your alcohol before? Or maybe you have cut down on something else, like food or smoking? What worked then?
Try to think of a strategy which may work for you. Make sure it is
- Specific (i.e. how many units do you want to cut down on?)
- Measurable (i.e. try to aim to cut down units or drinking days)
- Achievable (i.e. make sure you don't aim for something that is too difficult)
- Realistic (i.e. again make sure it is do-able)
- Time-bound (i.e. when will you start?)
Keep a copy of your plan and have a look at it every now and then to check your progress. If you need more support, speak to your GP
When trying to reduce your alcohol consumption, it is a good idea to keep track of your units throughout the week to record (honestly) how much and when you are drinking.
Good luck with cutting down! Stick at it and you will soon feel the benefits!