How much alcohol is too much, what is a unit anyway.

So the government have announced new alcohol unit guidelines. Are we still confused? I am guessing we are.

What is a unit anyway? What does it mean for us?

In some ways I am pleased that the government have reduced the recommended amounts that we should be drinking. But again I am unsure if we are clear about the messages.

The guidelines might be easier to understand, if they talked in terms of drinks instead of a unit, such as 1 glass of 125ml wine (1.5 units), or 1 pint of 4 % beer (2 units). Check out Drinkaware for more information Drinkaware infographic units

For me there are a few key things I would like people to understand regardless of how many units they drink.

I have worked with 1000’s and 1000’s of people over the years a lot with drinking problems, after all it is our biggest problem when it comes to drugs. Yes I am calling alcohol a drug because that is exactly what it is. A legal drug and let’s face it one of the most harmful drugs in lots of ways. There is a risk to our health, our mental health, our communities and our children, I could go on.

If it was re-classified now, alcohol would be a class A drug, up there with heroin and cocaine.

My wish, my passion is that the world is properly educated about alcohol and then people can make an informed choice, about how much they drink and alcohol dependence.  It’s about their choice to look after themselves, their relationships and their lives essentially.

So good information is key:

• Alcohol is a toxin a poison.

• It is a physically and psychologically addictive drug, which means if you drink a large amount daily (and the amount is different for all) then there is a good chance you will build up a physical addiction.  Physical withdrawal from alcohol can be fatal.  Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are sweating, shaking, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, whole body shakes, fits.

• Even if you don’t drink a large amount, if you drink regularly it’s easy to get a taste for it and to build up a habit. It can still be hard to stop.

• It can have a detrimental effect on your physical health in so many ways. Your skin, cancers, heart, liver, stomach, brain, I could go on. Remember it’s a poison so it will affect the whole of your body.

• It can affect your mental health and this can creep up on you, it’s a depressant after all. You can slowly start to withdraw, feel depressed, become anxious; even paranoid. In extreme cases you may have hallucinations.

• It can affect your relationships. Maybe someone is worried about you, maybe it causes arguments, maybe you don’t realise what you are like to be around when you are drinking.

• Financially, you could be spending a lot of money on your unhealthy habit.

• Disturbed sleep. If you drink regularly or binge alcohol stops you from sleeping properly as the body is working hard to process the alcohol.

I could go on and on. But I don’t want to preach. I merely want people to have access to factual information about alcohol. Then…….it’s up to you. If you want to make healthy choices, cut back, drink less, have alcohol free days, hell, even alcohol free weeks, months. Treat it as a luxury, after all….would you have takeaway every night?

Ask yourself these questions
• Do you drink everyday?
• Would you struggle to stop for a week?
• Is it effecting your life in some way?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then it would be good to learn about alcohol.  Learn how to drink less?

Having worked with a lot of people with problems with alcohol I can tell you the above is true, It’s not just government scaremongering. In fact if anything the reports don’t tell us the scale of the problem. I have seen first hand over and over again how it effects people.

But I have also seen how people very quickly sort themselves out, feeling healthier and happier very quickly. Even when people have been unwell physically or mentally and their lives are in tatters.

The best factual book about alcohol is Drink by Professor David Nutt

If you are worried about alcohol dependence, alcohol withdrawal, then please contact your doctor or local treatment service.  If you really dont want to speak to either of them, which I totally understand then message me.

Look after yourself.

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