Why do people use alcohol?
People use alcohol for different reasons – to be sociable, to relieve stress, cope with anxiety, and many other reasons. However, your alcohol consumption may be affecting you in ways you may not realise.
When you drink over a period of time, your tolerance to alcohol will increase. This means you will need to drink more to achieve the same effects and the reason why it is important to take regular breaks from alcohol.
If you end up drinking more because your tolerance has increased, this will have a negative impact on your short and long-term health.
Alcohol misuse can cause:
- Weight gain
- Insomnia or poor sleep
- Negative effects on your appearance
- Concentration problems
- Long-term damage to your health and relationships
To break the habit, it’s suggested that you should take 2 consecutive alcohol-free days a week. This gives your body and brain the opportunity to cleanse and repair itself.
We’re told that men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, but what exactly is a unit?
One unit is 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. Because alcoholic drinks come in different strengths and sizes, units are a way to tell how strong your drink is.
Guidance from the UK Chief Medical Officers is to keep the risks from alcohol to a low level, it is safest not to exceed 14 units per week on a regular basis. If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week it is best to spread your units evenly over three days or more.
What does 14 units of alcohol look like?
How can I tell if I have a problem with drugs or alcohol?
Some of the signs that your use may be developing into dependency:
- You’ve built up a tolerance.
- You have cravings and urges during the day.
- You regularly drink to deal with a hangover or withdrawal symptoms.
- Your use of alcohol is starting to affect your relationships with family and friends – perhaps you’re having more arguments, or loved ones tell you they’re worried about you.
- You forget what happened the night before; you feel embarrassed or ashamed of your behaviour.
- You find it difficult to sleep or to get up. You wake up in the early hours of the morning feeling unwell and your motivation to go to work or complete tasks is low.
- You plan activities around alcohol – it’s not a night out unless you drink to excess.
- Your drinking is upsetting or worrying you, but you can’t stop.
- You hide, or lie about your use to friends and family.
- Once you’ve had your first drink you don’t feel able to stop.