This week we will be joining 3,000 other community groups across the UK for Alcohol Awareness Week (15 - 21 November). Led by Alcohol Change UK, the week is a chance for us to think about the amount we are drinking, to raise awareness of the link between alcohol and mental health and encourage anyone who is struggling to seek the support they deserve.
Many of us associate alcohol and socialising, and alcohol can become a big part of our connections and interactions with those around us. In addition, drinking alcohol is commonly used to try and manage stress and anxiety.
Simple tips to manage alcohol drinking
Many of us drink too much without realising it. This could have a big effect on us both now and in the future; alcohol overuse is linked to many health problems, including mental health problems, liver disease and seven types of cancer.
These are 4 simple tips to help you manage your drinking:
Think in units
According to the Chief Medical Officers low risk drinking guidelines – adults (men and women) should not drink more than 14 units per week which should be spread over three or more days and with a few days off.
1 pint of 4% lager = 2.3 units
1 small glass of wine (175ml) = 2.1 units
Use the alcohol unit calculator on Alcohol Change UK’s website to check your levels of drinking: Unit calculator | Alcohol Change UK
Enjoy each drink slowly and remember that you don’t have to join in every time someone else decides to drink!
It can help to alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. There are lots of options available for alcohol-free drinks and mocktails, so you’ll be sure to find something to float your boat!
Bear in mind that the drinks you pour at home are often larger than those served in pubs, so you may be consuming more than you think.
Eat before you drink
Having something to eat before, and whilst drinking helps to slow down alcohol absorption into your blood stream
Ask for help
If you are feeling anxious, low or experiencing any other symptoms of mental health problems, or you think that you are thinking too much, you deserve support. You can access support easily and quickly:
Your GP will be able to provide confidential advice and may refer you to ARC-MK for extra support.
Alternatively you can refer yourself to ARC-MK online: ARC Milton Keynes :: Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (cnwl.nhs.uk) or by calling 01908 250730.
Talk to SAMAS – the Support, Advice, Mentoring and Advocacy service in Milton Keynes about how they can support you through your recovery journey.
Peer to peer support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous UK, provide a safe space to discuss your drinking.
If you are worried about someone else’s drinking, organisations such as Adfam and Bottled Up may help.
Alcohol harm can affect any one of us, from any walk of life. Ask for help if you feel your drinking is getting out of control. There’s nothing to be ashamed of; lots of people struggle with alcohol at some point in their lives and need support to turn things around.