Alcohol Concern is a national charity setup in 1984, who work to reduce the problems associated with alcohol. Every year they run an Alcohol Awareness Week to promote a specific aspect of this work. In 2018, the theme of the week is ‘Change‘.
Alcohol is the third major health hazard in the world after heart disease and cancer. It could be seen as the first as it contributes to both of these. As a result, the cost to the NHS is huge as well as personal and family loss.
Drinking Too Much?
The UK Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines for both men and women is to keep health risks from alcohol at a low level it is advisable not to drink more than 14 units per week on a regular basis.
One unit of alcohol (10ml) is the equivalent to:
- A single measure of spirits (ABV 37.5%);
- Half a pint of average strength (4%) lager;
- Two- thirds of a 125ml glass of average strength (12%) wine;
- Half a 175ml glass of average strength (12%) wine;
- A third of a 250ml glass of average strength (12%) wine.
The guidelines state pregnant women should abstain from drinking entirely, previously they had been advised that they could safely drink one or two units at most per week.
Mental Health & Alcohol
A joint report this year by the Institute of Alcohol Studies and the Centre for Mental Health concluded that a there is a major problem within the NHS. It stated ‘Some 86% who use alcohol treatment services also have a mental health difficulty and many people with mental health problems misuse alcohol. Yet few get effective help from either alcohol or mental health services.’ The report recommends an urgent review of funding and support for those suffering both alcohol addiction and mental illness.
Drugs & Alcohol
Drugs and alcohol directly affect the brain and may mimic or cover important symptoms, making an accurate diagnosis practically impossible. As an example, alcohol is a depressant, therefore it triggers low mood.
Deputy Matron, Sally Pincott and lead for alcohol services at the Clinic explains ‘Many people with drug and alcohol problems start using because of an underlying mental health problem. It can be very frustrating for patients and their loved ones to be denied direct treatment for depression or other mental health issues. The evidence demonstrates that it is futile to treat the depression if the patient is still taking a substance that will keep triggering it.’
Someone might need help with their drinking if:
- They are unable to control the amount they drink
- Their behaviour changes due to their drinking
- Their drinking is causing a problem in their everyday life
It can be very difficult to start the conversation when you are concerned about someone’s drinking but using phrases such as:
- “I was wondering if perhaps you drink less your health/well-being may improve?”
- “I’ve noticed you are not exercising as much as you used to.”
- “I’ve noticed you don’t seem as positive and upbeat about everything since you’ve started drinking more. I’m only mentioned this because I care about you.”
It’s always best to avoid using harsh criticisms and making judgements as this is likely to antagonise the situation. Using labels such as ‘alcoholic’ will cause distress and the person is likely to become defensive.
If you are concerned, encourage the person to speak to their GP. The following websites contain a lot of useful information and guidance.
Alcoholics Anonymous UK 0800 9177 650
Al-Anon (for family and friends of alcoholics) 020 7403 0888
Alcohol Concern 0300 123 1110
Mental Health Foundation 020 7803 1100
Drinkline 0300 123 1110
Cardinal Clinic runs 10 day and 14 day alcohol detox programmes. If you’d like more information about our services in this area please click the following link: Alcohol Detox Programmes