- More than 20 people each day dies as a result of the harm caused by alcohol.
- Alcohol is a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions including liver disease, high blood pressure, depression and seven types of cancer.
- In 2018/19 there were 1.26 million alcohol related hospital admissions in England.
- There are around 600,000 dependent drinkers in the UK, yet less than 1 in 5 receive treatment.
- Around 200,000 children in England live with an alcohol dependent parent or carer.
- Around 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year and drinking too much or too often can increase our risk.
- In 2017/18, in 39% of violent incidents the victim believed the offender to be under the influence of alcohol.
- Despite drinking the least, the poorest in society suffer the greatest alcohol harm.
AM I DRINKING TOO MUCH?
Knowing how much is too much can be confusing when it comes to alcohol. Most of us feel that we know when we’ve overdone it, but sometimes drinking can creep up on us and we find that we’re drinking more than we would like. For this reason, in January 2016, the UK’s top doctors - chief Medical officers (CMOs), published new ‘low-risk’ drinking guidelines to help give us a steer about how we can minimise the risks associated with drinking and make healthier informed choices about our drinking.
WEEKLY DRINKING GUIDELINES
The guidelines for both men and women state:
- To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
- If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread your drinking evenly over 3 or more days. If you have one or two heavy drinking episodes a week, you increase your risks of death from long term illness and from accidents and injuries.
- The risk of developing a range of health problems (including cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) increases the more you drink on a regular basis.
- If you wish to cut down the amount you drink, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days each week.
ALCOHOL AND YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Around 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year and drinking too much or too often can
increase our risk. But many of us are unaware of the link between alcohol and poor mental health. Regular drinking
can mask underlying mental health problems such as anxiety and depression and prevent them from being properly
addressed, or even make them worse.
One of the main problems associated with using alcohol to deal with mental health problems is that regular consumption
of alcohol changes the chemistry of the brain. It decreases the levels of the brain chemical serotonin - a key chemical in
depression. As a result of this depletion, a cyclical process begins where one drinks to relieve depression, which causes
serotonin levels in the brain to be depleted, leading to one feeling even more depressed, and thus necessitating even
more alcohol to then medicate this depression.
LOOK AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH USING MINDFULNESS
Mindfulness has been shown to help with a number of conditions, including stress, anxiety, depression, addictive behaviours such as alcohol or substance misuse and gambling, and physical problems like hypertension, heart disease and chronic pain.
While research is still growing in the area of mindfulness, evidence has suggested the benefit of mindfulness to health and wellbeing, with results showing positive effects on several aspects of whole-person health, including the mind, the brain, the body, and behaviour, as well as a person’s relationships with others.
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga. It helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that, instead of being overwhelmed by them, we’re better able to manage them. How can mindfulness help?
Mindfulness can be used as a tool to manage your well-being and mental health. Some people call mental health ‘emotional health’ or ‘well-being’. We all have times when we feel down, stressed or frightened; most of the time those feelings pass, but sometimes they develop into a more serious problem, and this could happen to any one of us.
It’s important to maintain your mental health, but being mentally healthy doesn’t just mean that you don’t have a mental health problem. With good mental health, you can:
- Make the most of your potential
- Cope with life
- Play a full part in your family, workplace, community and among friends
If you’re worried that you’re drinking too much, there’s support available from the following organisations:
- Alcohol concern
- Al-Anon Family Groups
- Alcoholics Anonymous Great Britain
- Turning Point
- We Are With You
- Action on Addiction