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Alcohol Reduction

What harm can alcohol do?

Alcohol has been consumed for it’s effect on our senses for centuries, but it has always been recognised that drinking to excess carries risks and regular consumption of alcohol can lead to adverse physical, social and mental consequences.

Alcohol is associated with over 60 diseases, including dementia, psychosis, heart arrhythmias, cirrhosis and several different types of cancer (breast, bowel, liver , oesophagus, mouth and more). Regular excess alcohol can also contribute to stress and relationship break down.

Current guidance suggests that even small amounts of alcohol may cause harm in susceptible individuals. As the dose increase so too do the risks. People usually acquire the habit of drinking to excess in their youth. Those most at risk usually start drinking in their teens (or earlier) and continue the habit into adult life. Certain occupations, such as those in the dinks industry and medicine have higher rates of alcohol related harm associated with them, but no individual is immune.

If you think you may be at risk please see the section on alcohol, how much is too much?

What is alcohol use disorder? — Alcohol use disorder is basically the medical term for alcoholism or alcohol addiction. People who have alcohol addiction have 2 or more of the following problems. The more of these they have, the more severe their disorder.

● The sufferer often ends up drinking more alcohol than they planned to or for a longer time than they planned to.

● They wish they could cut down on alcohol, but they can't.

● The sufferer spends a lot of time trying to get alcohol, getting drunk, or recovering from being drunk, this can affect their work or social lives.

● They crave or have a strong desire or urge to drink alcohol.

● Because of their alcohol use, they often don't do things that are expected of them, such as go to work or school, remember family events, and clean their home.

● They keep drinking even if it causes or worsens problems in their relationships or interactions with other people.

●They stop or cut back on important social, work, or fun activities they used to do.

●They keep drinking alcohol even in situations where it is dangerous to do so (such as while driving).

●They keep drinking alcohol even when they know they have a physical or mental problem that was probably caused or made worse by their drinking.


People with alcohol dependence often get both physical and or mental symptoms on stopping alcohol. These symptoms may include sweating, palpitations, tremors, difficulty sleeping, nausea, restlessness, anxiety, and in some cases hallucinations (seeing, hearing or feeling things that are not real) or seizures.

Alcohol How Much is too much? How often is too often?

How do I know if I am drinking too much? — If alcohol is having a negative effect on your life, you are probably drinking too much. Answer these questions:

Have you lost control of your drinking? For example, do you sometimes find that you drink more than you meant to?

Do you need to drink larger and larger amounts to get the effect you want? Or do you get sick or feel physically uncomfortable if you cut down on your drinking?

Have you lost your job, gotten in trouble with the law, or had problems with your friends or family because of alcohol?

Do you consume alcohol regularly and suffer from reflux, hypertension, psoriasis, atrial fibrillation pancreatic disease, stress, depression or anxiety if so cutting down may help.

If you said yes to any of these questions, or if you just think you have a problem, mention it to your doctor. He or she can help you find out if you do have a drinking problem. Do not be embarrassed to talk with him or her about it. Alcohol problems are common. But there are treatments that can help.

What happens if I keep drinking too much? — People who drink too much can get serious liver and heart disease. They can get different types of cancer. And they can damage their brain. Plus, people who drink too much are more likely than people who do not to have accidents, suffer relationship breakdown or die accidentally

Can I stop drinking on my own? — Many people get over their drinking problem on their own.  People with who have been drinking to significant excess several days a week for weeks in a row, who get unpleasant symptoms when they stop or cut down, such as tremor, nausea or hallucinations, should not try to cut down without the help of a doctor or nurse. People who drink that much can suffer significant harm or rarely even die if they stop or cut down on drinking too quickly.

Alcohol  - Useful tips

By planning what you are going to do in respect of your drinking and by thinking in advance about situations when you are vulnerable to excess and what you can do to manage them you will be better prepared to reduce your alcohol consumption. Here are a few tips;

1.Firstly count your drinks, be aware of how much you are drinking, either keeping track on a card or using an app on your phone (see the apps section) may be helpful.

2.Count and measure your drinks carefully; measure things at home and when you are out try to use standard measures. This is sometimes made more challenging if you mix your drinks.

3.Set yourself goals, decide how many days you want to drink and where your limits will be.

4.If you are drinking pace yourself, drink slowly and try alternating alcoholic with non alcoholic drinks.

5.Try to eat some food in order to slow down the absorption of alcohol

6.If you spend a lot of your time drinking try to find alternatives think about what other activities you could do that you could enjoy during the time you currently spend drinking.

7.If you are drinking to excess regularly and you get physical symptoms on trying to stop do not stop drinking suddenly without support and supervision from an appropriately trained professional.


To calculate how many units you’re drinking look at the percentage alcohol and the volume. The units  in any drink can be calculated by multiplyinging the percentage of alcohol by the volume in litres; SO if you were drinking a bottle of 13% alcohol wine, which contains 750ml;

13 x 0.75= 9.75 units.

A number of online apps are available to help identify and support people with an alcohol problem, below are just a couple;

Drink Coach

This is an app from a UK based charitable organisation that works with a number of other healthcare bodies to help address alcohol problems. Their app helps track the number of units costs and calories incurred whilst drinking.

Drinks Tracker

Drinks tracker is an app developed by Public Health England, NHS approved app to help you track your alcohol consumption. Available in the app store and on google.

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