Am I Drinking Too Much?
What exactly is too much?
There are three main categories of ‘problem’ drinking and many are surprised by how easy it is to fall in to the first…
Heavy or hazardous
· Drinking above the Government’s recommended limits (two to three units a day for women and three to four units a day for men) is classed as heavy or hazardous drinking.
· In Great Britain just under a third of men and one in five women drink over the Government’s recommendations.
To put this in perspective, as little as two large glasses of wine will take you over the recommended daily unit intake. Even if you’re not out doing tequilas off the bar every night, you could still be drinking too much.
In order to help prevent damaging your health and look and feel your best, you should aim to stay ‘alcohol-free’ for at least a couple of days each week.
· Drinking 50 units a week for men and 35 units a week for women is regarded as ‘harmful’ drinking.
· Currently 8% of men and 2% of women drink more than the level regarded as ‘harmful’.
But isn’t that an awful lot of alcohol to drink in a week? Surprisingly not. For women, drinking two large glasses of wine a night would mean you’ve reached this level even before the weekend is over. And for men, drinking a bottle of wine to yourself just five nights a week gets you dangerously close to the level. Drinking habits like this can make you dependent on alcohol and you may develop long-term physical and mental health problems.
· More than one in 25 adults are dependent on alcohol.
How will I know if I’m dependent on alcohol? You may feel the need to drink alcohol throughout the day, experience withdrawal effects between drinks or drink large amounts at one time.
How does alcohol affect your life?
Taking a step back and looking at the role plays in your life is very important. You may feel drinking doesn’t have a negative effect on your life and that you don’t need to drink. However drinking could still be affecting your health.
As well as looking at your unit intake, it is important to be aware of the following;
Routine drinking: Religiously opening a bottle of wine after a stressful day or finding it impossible to get ready for a social event without a drink in your hand.
Needy drinking: Avoiding a situation or event because you know you wouldn’t be able to have a drink while you’re there. Feeling anxious or worried about where your next drink is coming from.
“Just one more” drinking: Finding you can’t just go for a half pint, it always has to turn into a full drinking session.
Closet drinking: Drinking in secret or even just telling a little lie about how much you drink.
Dodgy drinking behaviour: Regularly regretting the things you’ve done while drunk – and we’re not just talking about poor karaoke performance. Arguing with friends or family, for example, or being involved in accidents or fights.
Look out for the physical signs which can indicate that you’re drinking too much. These can include:
o Loss of appetite
o Stomach problems
o Memory loss, blackouts
These are just the short-term effects. In the long term, drinking too much can lead to a host of health problems from heart disease to cancer.
It can also affect your day to day appearance, causing spots and red patches on your skin and adding weight to your love handles.
Drinking and mental health
Many people are unaware that alcohol can have an effect on your mental health and wellbeing. The most common symptoms of drinking too much include;
· Disturbed sleep patterns
· Feeling agitated and/or anxious
· Slowed brain functioning affecting concentration and memory
However more serious problems, such as isolation and depression can result for drinking heavily and could cause serious family and work problems.