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  • Writer's pictureLisa Jones

Am I drinking too much?


If you are asking yourself this question the answer is probably yes. There is much talk about units and how many you can drink to minimise any issues that it may cause, but if you are feeling concerned about your drinking you probably should be.

There are huge health risks to over drinking alcohol as well as creating mental health and relationship issues. Unfortunately, in our current society we sometimes turn to alcohol in times of difficulty, when the reality is it's the worst idea we can have! If we are depressed or anxious, looking after our physical health is even more important. Drinking water and taking exercise helps us recover, whereas alcohol may have the opposite effect.

There is a huge amount of information online about responsible drinking and even where to get help if we feel we have a problem. If you catch yourself early when your usual social drinking becomes a habit you may be able to self-help yourself before it effects negatively your life. This could be; your physical health, mental health, financial affairs, relationships, social life and work.

If you feel you are drinking too frequently, try these tips to help you reduce:

  1. Count the units you are drinking

  2. Drink a glass of water or soda in between alcoholic drinks

  3. Don't keep alcohol at home

  4. Don't drink alone

  5. Dilute wine, spirits and lager by adding sodas or mixers

At this time of year, coming up to Christmas, you may also find yourself pressured to drink more. Sometimes other people encourage us to have a drink with them and they feel let down if we say we are not drinking. It is easy to let these messages get through to us and give in to the pressure from others. If you feel unable to just say no to friends when you have made a decision to stop, you could prop up your refusal with a white lie (just use one!):

  1. I am on medication and can't drink at the moment

  2. I went out last night/week and overdid it so I'm taking it easy tonight

  3. I'm trying to lose weight so am sticking with diet soda

  4. I have a blood test tomorrow

  5. I'll buy my own drinks (and buy a non-alcoholic one)

  6. I'll drive tonight, I have an early start

The recommended number of units per week for men and women is 14 and it is advised to take a few days off each week from drinking any alcohol at all. The following measures have 1 unit:

Here is a really useful calculator to check your alcohol intake. It also tells you how many calories you're consuming: ALCOHOL UNIT CALCULATOR

If you manage to cut down, or stop drinking altogether, you don't have a dependency. But if you find it really difficult and find yourself reaching for the bottle again you may need professional help. The first thing would be to visit your GP and get advice on what to do, they may recommend some counselling to start with or know of local programmes to help people cut down. For more serious alcohol dependency issues you would need longer term help and possibly a medical withdrawal programme. For heavy drinkers, sometimes just stopping abruptly can be very dangerous.

If you don't want to visit your GP you can always reach out to Alcoholics Anonymous - whatever your personal circumstances they will welcome you, be non-judgmental and totally discreet. Find your nearest meeting here.

If you’re concerned about someone’s drinking, or your own, Drinkline runs a free, confidential helpline. Call 0300 123 1110 (UK only).

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