January 2017 : Alcohol Awareness

We've all got an alcohol problem ...

... but not in the way you might think

If you’re like most adults in Britain, you drink alcohol (at least occasionally). But you could be drinking in ways that may cause problems to you or those around you.

Drinkaware, an independent UK-wide alcohol education charity, has found that many people are still unsure about:

  • how much they're drinking
  • the impact of alcohol on physical and mental health
  • the impact on family and social relationships

New guidelines

For example, did you know that the ‘low-risk drinking guidelines‘ were recently revised to no more than 14 units a week spread over three days or more for both men and women (it was previously 21 for men and 14 for women)?

"Unit blindness”

You also won’t be alone if you get confused by “units”.  Particularly when people think in terms of ‘bottles’, ‘pints’ and ‘glasses’.

Drinking guidelines are measured in ‘units’ because alcoholic drinks come in different strengths and sizes so ‘units’ are used as a standard measure to tell how strong a drink is.  

But help is on hand.

Drinkaware have a range of online tools to help you get to grips with:

  • units
  • calories
  • managing drinking levels

The online tools section will also link you to the Drinkaware App that does it all from your Android or iPhone whilst you are out and about on a night out.  Take a look at this preview:

Calorie confusion

It also seems that some people believe alcohol has no calories and some people think it has so many calories that they skip meals.

In fact, alcohol contains almost the same number of calories a gram as pure fat. 

  • On one hand, young adults have become so conscious of the calories in alcohol that a new type of binge drinking has come about - called “drunkorexia” - where people skip meals to save calories so they can drink alcohol on nights out
  • On the other, some young people believe that because alcohol contains “empty calories” that drinking alcohol will keep them thin no matter how much they drink

Calories from alcohol are called 'empty’ because they have no nutritional value, not because they have no calories.  And, to make matters worse, alcohol calories could be considered ‘extra-fattening’ because drinking alcohol reduces the body’s ability to burn fat for energy.

The Drinkaware calorie counter (and app) can also be found in the online tools section of our health portal.

Drinking more than usual?

If, over January, you’ve been cutting back or cutting out alcohol and have been surprised about how much you have been drinking, don’t worry.

Changes and stresses in our life can lead to drinking levels creeping up without us realising.

If you, or someone else, thinks it might be an issue, access the Drinkaware self assessment from our health portal before it develops into a problem.

If you need help now, explore the local alcohol services and what advice and info might be available to you locally.

 

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