Updated: Aug 22
The Hidden Costs of Alcohol Addiction: How to Get Help and Overcome the Struggles.
Alcohol consumption can have significant negative impacts on individuals and society. In the United Kingdom (UK), alcohol misuse is a major public health issue and is associated with a range of negative outcomes. In this article we will cover all aspects around the problem.
According to the UK Chief Medical Officer's guidelines, it is safe for men and women to drink up to 14 units of alcohol per week, and it is recommended that these units be spread out over three or more days. However, it is estimated that around a quarter of adults in the UK drink more than the recommended weekly limit.
The UK government has implemented various measures to reduce alcohol-related harm, including increasing taxes on alcohol, introducing minimum unit pricing, and regulating the advertising and marketing of alcohol. Despite these efforts, alcohol misuse remains a significant public health problem in the UK.
Alcohol Problems and Risks.
Alcohol is a psychoactive substance that can have a range of short-term and long-term effects on the body and mind. Some problems that can be associated with alcohol use include:
Physical health problems: Alcohol can have negative effects on the body, including increasing the risk of certain cancers, liver damage, and heart problems.
Mental health problems: Alcohol can affect mood and lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. It can also worsen the symptoms of existing mental health conditions.
Social problems: Alcohol can lead to problems in relationships and can contribute to domestic violence and other forms of social conflict.
Legal problems: Alcohol consumption can impair judgment and increase the risk of engaging in risky or dangerous behaviour, which can result in legal problems such as arrests for drunk driving or other offenses.
Financial problems: Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to financial problems due to the costs associated with buying alcohol and the negative effects it can have on work and productivity.
Binge drinking can have serious negative consequences on an individual's physical and mental health, as well as their relationships and overall well-being.
Binge drinking is defined as consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time with the intention of becoming intoxicated. This behaviour can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can be life-threatening. Binge drinking can also increase the risk of developing other health problems, including liver damage, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer.
Long-term Alcohol use and Dependence
Alcohol dependence, a type of substance use disorder in which a person becomes physically and emotionally dependent on alcohol. Alcohol dependence can lead to a range of serious problems, including difficulty controlling drinking habits, problems at work or school, financial difficulties, and relationship problems. It can also increase the risk of developing other health problems, such as liver disease, high blood pressure, and neurological disorders.
Understanding Alcohol Units.
An alcohol unit is a measure of the amount of pure alcohol in a drink. In many countries, including the United Kingdom, alcohol units are used as a way to express the quantity of alcohol in a drink and to help people understand how much they are drinking.
One alcohol unit is equal to 10 millilitres (ml) of pure alcohol. This is roughly equivalent to:
A single measure (25 ml) of spirits, such as whisky or gin
A small glass (125 ml) of wine
A half-pint (284 ml) of beer, lager, or cider with an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 3.5%
It's important to note that the number of alcohol units in a drink can vary depending on the size of the serving and the strength of the alcohol. For example, a double measure (50 ml) of spirits would contain two alcohol units, while a pint (568 ml) of beer with an ABV of 3.5% would contain two alcohol units.
It's also worth noting that different countries have different definitions of an alcohol unit. In the United States, for example, an alcohol unit is typically defined as 0.6 ounces (oz) of pure alcohol, which is equivalent to approximately 17 ml.
Drinking guidelines in many countries recommend that adults should not regularly exceed certain limits when it comes to alcohol consumption. In the United Kingdom, for example, the Chief Medical Officers' low risk drinking guidelines recommend that men and women should not regularly drink more than 14 alcohol units per week.
It's important to note that the effects of alcohol can vary widely from person to person, and the amount of alcohol that constitutes a "standard drink" is only an approximate guideline. Factors such as age, weight, gender, and individual metabolism can all affect how a person responds to alcohol.
So how do i know when I've had enough to drink?
There are several ways to determine if you've had enough to drink:
Pay attention to your physical and mental state: If you're feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or otherwise intoxicated, it's a good sign that you've had enough to drink.
Use the "one drink per hour" rule: This rule suggests that you should limit yourself to one drink per hour, to give your body time to metabolize the alcohol.
Use a breathalyser: A breathalyser is a device that measures the amount of alcohol in your breath. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal limit for driving, it's a good indication that you've had too much to drink.
Use common sense: If you're feeling uncomfortable or unable to safely operate a vehicle, it's a good idea to stop drinking.
It's important to remember that everyone's tolerance for alcohol is different, and what might be a safe amount for one person may be too much for another. It's always best to err on the side of caution and to drink responsibly.
Drink driving, also known as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), is the act of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is illegal in most countries, including the United States, to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above a certain level, usually 0.08%.
Driving while impaired can have serious consequences, including injury or death to the driver or others on the road. Alcohol and drugs can impair a person's judgment, reaction time, and other skills that are necessary for safe driving.
If you are planning to drink, it is important to arrange for a designated driver or another safe means of transportation. If you are stopped by the police and suspected of drink driving, you may be asked to take a breathalyser test to determine your BAC. If you are found to be over the legal limit, you could face criminal charges and a suspension or revocation of your driver's license. In some cases, you may also be required to attend alcohol education or treatment programs.
It is always best to avoid drinking altogether if you are driving to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road.
The Effects of Alcohol on Relationships.
In our Counselling Practice, we have lost count of the number of couples seeking help where alcohol is involved. Alcohol can have a range of effects on relationships, both positive and negative. Some people may find that alcohol helps them feel more relaxed and sociable, which can enhance their relationships with others. However, alcohol can also lead to negative behaviours and interactions that can damage relationships.
Couple counselling can be an effective way for individuals in a relationship to address issues related to alcohol use. In couple counselling, a trained therapist can help couples communicate more effectively and work through conflicts related to alcohol use or other challenges in their relationship.
During couple counselling, the therapist may help couples identify the underlying causes of their conflicts and work on developing strategies to address them. This may involve setting boundaries, finding healthier ways to cope with stress, or addressing underlying issues such as past trauma or low self-esteem.
One potential negative effect of alcohol on relationships is that it can impair judgment and decision-making, leading to risky or irresponsible behaviour. For example, a person who is under the influence of alcohol may say or do things that they later regret, or engage in activities that could put themselves or others at risk. This can lead to conflict or damage trust in a relationship.
Additionally, alcohol use can lead to alcohol abuse or addiction, which can have serious consequences for a person's health and well-being as well as their relationships. Alcohol abuse or addiction can strain relationships and cause problems with communication, trust, and commitment. It can also lead to financial and legal issues, which can further strain relationships.
In general, it's important to be mindful of the role that alcohol plays in your relationships and to seek help if alcohol is causing problems in your life or relationships.
Tips to cut down on alcohol.
There are several strategies you can try to cut down on alcohol:
Set a limit for yourself: Decide in advance how much you will drink and stick to that limit.
Keep track of your drinking: Keep a record of how much you drink, including the type and size of each drink. This can help you see patterns in your drinking and identify triggers that lead you to drink more.
Know your limits: Pay attention to how alcohol affects you and don't hesitate to stop drinking or seek help if you feel intoxicated or uncomfortable.
Find alternative activities: Try to find activities that you enjoy that don't involve alcohol. This could include exercise, hobbies, spending time with friends or family, or trying new activities.
Drink slowly: Savour your drinks and take breaks between them. This can help you better monitor your alcohol intake.
Alternate between alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks: This can help you pace yourself and stay hydrated.
Choose lower-alcohol drinks: opt for drinks that have a lower alcohol content, such as light beer or wine spritzers.
Avoid situations that encourage heavy drinking: Avoid places or events where heavy drinking is the norm.
Seek support: If you feel like you need additional support to cut down on your alcohol intake, consider reaching out to a trusted friend or family member, or seeking help from a healthcare professional.
Eat before or while you drink: Having food in your stomach can help slow down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream.
Remember that cutting down on alcohol is a personal decision and what works for one person may not work for another. It's important to find a approach that works for you and to be patient with yourself as you make changes to your drinking habits.
Alcohol Support Groups in the UK.
There are a number of alcohol support groups available in the UK that can provide help and support for individuals struggling with alcohol addiction. Some options include:
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) - AA is a fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem and have recovered from alcoholism. AA meetings offer a safe and supportive environment for individuals to share their experiences and find support from others who are also working to overcome their addiction.
Al-Anon - Al-Anon is a support group for the friends and family members of alcoholics. It provides a safe and confidential space for individuals to share their experiences and find support from others who are in similar situations.
SMART Recovery - SMART Recovery is a self-help group that uses a Cognitive-Behavioral approach to help individuals overcome their addiction to alcohol.
Rehabilitation centres - Rehabilitation centres offer a range of treatment options for individuals struggling with alcohol addiction, including counselling, support groups, and medication-assisted treatment.
It's important to note that support groups can be an important part of the recovery process, but they are not a substitute for professional treatment. If you are struggling with alcohol addiction and are seeking help, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional about the best course of treatment for you.
Self Hypnosis for Alcohol Problems.
Self-hypnosis is a technique in which a person uses relaxation and concentration techniques to enter a state of focused attention in order to achieve a specific goal or change a specific behaviour. Some people may use self-hypnosis as a way to help them manage or overcome alcohol problems.
There is some research suggesting that Self-Hypnosis may be effective in helping people reduce their alcohol consumption or manage their alcohol cravings. For example, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis found that Self-Hypnosis was effective in helping a group of heavy drinkers reduce their alcohol intake and improve their overall quality of life. Download our Self-Hypnosis session for Alcohol Problems HERE
In Conclusion. Enjoying Alcohol Safely
Enjoying alcohol safely means drinking in moderation and making responsible decisions about when and how much to drink. Please refer to the section higher up, Tips to cut down on alcohol.
"This article represents the personal views and opinions of the author and should not be taken as representative of the official policy or position of any organization, professional, expert, or individual."