Health & Safety

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Alcohol - Do You Know Your Limits?

20 December 2009

According to the latest statistics (May 2009) young people in the UK are drinking more than ever before. Not only that, few are aware of the effects of alcohol on their mental and physical health, or of how much their drinking adds up.

beer bottles

One of the most striking things about excessive drinking in the UK, is the extent to which those ending up in Accident and Emergency departments are in denial that it is drink causing the problem. There are numerous reports of incidents where alarmed individuals report to A&E having brought up blood as a result of stretching their oesophagus because of violent alcohol-induced sickness, who blame it on the kebab rather than the ten pints they've had before!

The statistics speak for themselves: There are between 15,000 and 22,000 premature deaths in England and Wales every year as a direct result of excessive drinking - and treatment of alcohol related conditions costs the NHS a staggering 1.7 billion a year. Alcohol abuse is particularly serious in the North West, with 29% of adults drinking at a 'hazardous or harmful' level.

Drinking facts and myths

Myth

  • The more you drink the more your body can take it, so you can safely drink more with increasing the risks.
  • Alcohol is a stimulant.
  • Coating your stomach with a greasy or milky solution will slow the absorption of alcohol and prevent a person from getting drunk or sick.

Fact

  • The more you drink the more damage your body will sustain and the greater the risks become.
  • Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Although the initial effects of alcohol may seem stimulating, the cumulative effect actually depresses the brain.
  • The stomach cannot be coated to prevent absorption, however people are encouraged to eat foods rich in carbohydrates and proteins before consuming alcohol. A proper meal before a night out is strongly recommended.

How to stop a good night turning into a bad one

  • Eat before you go out.
  • Drink water regularly and before you go to bed after a night out.
  • Don't try to keep up with friend who drinks more than you.
  • Don't drink in rounds.
  • Intersperse alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Plan your way home before you head out for the night.
  • Don't accept drinks from strangers.
  • Don't get into an unlicensed cab or into a strangers car.
  • Don't leave your friends to go off with some you don't know.
  • Carry a condom - if you have sex, make sure you don't take unnecessary risks.

How much is in that glass?

  • Sprits - A small double measure (50ml) is equal to 2 units.
  • Wine - A bottle of 13% alcohol by volume (abv) wine has around 10 units so sharing a bottle means consuming 5 units.
  • Beer - A pint of bitter (3.7% abv) contains 2 units.

Safe Limits

  • Men should not regularly drink more than 3 - 4 units daily.
  • Women should not regularly drink more than 2 - 3 units daily.

Exceeding these guidelines could add up to a serious illness.