Drink aware this Xmas

Who doesn’t like a glass at this time of year? Just be sure to stay safe and know your limits. 

It’s been a challenging year and it’s no wonder that many of us are feeling a little more stressed and anxious than usual. This can cause our drinking to creep up. And as the festive season arrives, the temptation to increase our alcohol intake is at a maximum. Here’s a quick tippler’s guide on how to look after yourself and those you love this Yuletide. 

So, what are the guidelines?

The current UK guidelines advise limiting alcohol intake to 14 units a week for women and men. This is equivalent to drinking no more than six pints of average strength beer (four per cent ABV) or seven medium-sized glasses of wine (175ml, 12 per cent ABV) a week. 

There are some pretty startling facts according to recent data from Alcohol Research UK:

In England there are an estimated 586,780 dependent drinkers.

Twenty-four per cent of adults in England and Scotland regularly drink over the Chief Medical Officer’s low-risk guidelines and 27 per cent of drinkers in Britain binge drink on their heaviest drinking days (more than eight units for men and over six units for women).

Alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among 15 to 49-year-olds in the UK and the fifth biggest risk factor across all ages.

Alcohol is a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions, including mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast cancers, high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver and depression.

In England in 2018/19, there were 1.26million hospital admissions related to alcohol consumption (7.4 per cent of all hospital admissions), eight per cent higher than the previous year. In the same period there were 358,000 admissions where the main reason was due to alcohol, 19 per cent higher than 10 years previously.

In 2018, the alcohol-specific death rate in the UK for men was 16.4 per 100,000 and 7.6 per 100,000 for women. 

Tips for reducing alcohol this Christmas:

The guidelines aren’t a target but if you choose to drink this much, then spread your drinking over three or more days and avoid binge drinking.

Eat something. Food can slow down the rate that alcohol is absorbed into your system so always try and eat a healthy meal.

Go small. Opt for a small (125ml) glass rather than a large (250ml) one for wine. If you’re drinking at home, buy smaller glasses for the house.

Stop the top-ups. Avoid filling up your glass before its empty. This can help you to keep track of how much you’ve had!

Avoid drinking alone. As well as just being a bad habit, research suggests that when we drink alone the measures are just that bit more generous, meaning more units.

Drinking a soft drink from a glass you would usually fill with alcohol can be a great way to cut back without feeling like you’re missing out. Or, choose a drink that looks like it’s an alcoholic one or try having a shandy instead.

Alternate with water. Alcohol dehydrates you so it’s important to have some water before you begin drinking and in between alcoholic drinks. Alternating alcoholic drinks with water or soft drinks will not only help stop you getting too intoxicated, it will help reduce headaches and hangover symptoms the next day.

Keep track of how much your drinking and try to be honest with yourself. Keeping a drink diary might sound OTT but the results might surprise you.

Avoid the unnecessary drinks. Do you really need that last one at the end of the evening? Maybe try to cut out midweek drinking and just have an alcoholic drink at the weekend.

Ask for help. If you’re feeling out of control, then confide in someone you trust or call one of the many awesome and anonymous advice lines available.

For more stats and support visit www.drinkaware.co.uk