Excessive Alcohol Intake -The Health Risks


The Government recommends you do not exceed four units of alcohol a day if you are a man and three units if you are a woman.

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If you exceed this amount on a regular basis you expose your body to a whole host of health risks, some involving disease and others involving an increased risk of injury and other ‘misadventures’. This could include an enhanced risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, falling over, road traffic accidents and an increased vulnerability to sexual and physical assault.


Over the last ten years, an average of 30,000 lives were lost yearly in the United Kingdom due to the effects of alcohol. The scale of the problem has prompted the team at Help4Addiction to write this handy guide on excessive alcohol intake. It is hoped you will gain a better appreciation of the potential health risks you could be exposing your body to by continuing to consume more than the recommended units of alcohol each day.


Excessive Alcohol Intake – Men and Women


Due to a greater volume of blood and a lower fat index in men’s bodies, men process alcohol more efficiently than women. This means men end up with a lower percentage of alcohol in their blood in comparison to women when the same quantity of alcohol is consumed. Additionally, the below health problems associated with excessive alcohol intake manifest themselves more rapidly for women than for men.


However despite this underlying biological advantage men have over women when it comes to the negative effects of alcohol, more men do in fact end up in hospital or in car accidents as a result of their excessive drinking.


Alcohol and Domestic violence


Excess alcohol consumption can take its toll on your family life.


Alcohol is a major contributor to incidents involving domestic violence and excessive intake of alcohol can lead to the breakup of entire families and mean children end up in care.



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Indeed alcohol abuse can lead to harsh psychology problems as well as physical health problems when it comes to your family life.


Alcohol and the Skeletal system


The over 35’s are at an increased risk of developing a condition known as ‘gout’ when they choose to over-consume alcohol.


This is an arthritic disease characterised by joint swelling. This is a condition which can be very painful indeed.


Alcohol and Strokes


Excessive consumption of alcohol has been shown to increase the risks of stroke, especially amongst the over 50’s who drink in excess of five units per day for a prolonged period of time.


Alcohol and Cancer


Study after study strengthens the evidence that alcohol abuse leads to cancer. The evidence is strongest when it comes to the link between alcohol abuse and cancer of the oesophagus, mouth, pharynx and larynx, especially amongst men. Furthermore liver cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) can lead to liver carcinoma (liver cancer). Likewise, pancreatitis can lead to pancreatic cancer.


Studies have also linked excessive drinking to breast cancer, particularly if a women drinks in excess of two alcoholic drinks each day.


Sexual and Reproduction Problems


Alcohol not only decreases essential male hormones such as testosterone, it also has a toxic effect on the testes.


If you are a man this means your ability to produce sperm is impaired. Damaged sperm has a hard time reaching the ovaries, so if you’ve been planning on conceiving a child it really makes sense to discontinue your consumption of alcohol.


Alcohol consumption additionally slows down the body’s nervous system. If you are a man your excessive consumption of alcohol beyond the recommended number of daily units will mean you will prohibit your ability to establish and maintain an erection. This has in some circles rather affectionately been termed ‘brewer’s droop’.


Alcohol and Weight Control


Whether you’re a man or a woman it’s no secret that alcohol will make your body put on weight. A single 250ml glass of wine is the equivalent to a small slice of chocolate cake containing 200 calories. And that nice pint of beer will eat into 200 calories of your daily recommended calorie budget.


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Additionally, alcohol impairs your body’s ability to burn fat. Alcohol is a toxin and as such the body will prioritise its breakdown to the expense of other metabolic activities such as fat burning. Excessive alcohol intake can lead to excessive fat accumulating around the stomach and chest areas, these have been termed ‘man boobs’ and ‘beer belly’ respectively.


Alcohol-related Liver Disease


The liver is the body’s chief agent when it comes to clearing out harmful toxins from your system. Alcohol is no exception and it is within the liver that the alcohol toxin is processed.


It is commonly said that the liver breaks down one unit of alcohol in around 60 minutes. Excessive intake of alcohol does indeed damage the liver by forcing the liver to go into overdrive.


Alcohol abuse can lead to various liver impairments such as ‘fatty liver disease’ (steatosis), ‘cirrhosis’, also known as ‘scaring of the liver’ and hepatitis. If you continue to drink under such circumstances you could end up with liver failure. Cirrhosis, in particular, is irreversible and such liver failure will result in death and can only be cured through a liver transplant.


Alcohol and the Pancreas


The pancreas functions by providing essential enzymes utilised during the digestion process. These enzymes break down harmful fatty acids and insulin.


When the pancreas is damaged so is the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar.


Excessive alcohol intake can lead to a condition known as chronic pancreatitis. This manifests itself by inflaming the pancreas. When the pancreas is inflamed for a sufficient duration the pancreas will be permanently damaged. This results in severe stomach pains and diabetes.


Drink Driving Risk

The number of alcohol related road deaths has fallen dramatically since the 1970s in the United Kingdom but over the last ten years on average 400 lives have been lost each year due to road accidents which can be directly attributed to alcohol consumption.


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Above Department for Transport statistics survey reveals percentage of men and women who admit driving when over the limit of alcohol permitted by law. 9% of men admitted to drinking whilst over the limit. Only 4% of women felt they have driven whilst over the drink driving limit.

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We hope you have enjoyed our guide on the health risks which excessive alcohol intake can cause.


If you are worried about your own excessive consumption of alcohol why not call the team today on 0203 955 7700.


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    Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

    The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

    Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

    • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
    • Lorazepam (Ativan)
    • Diazapam (vailium)

    Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

    There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

    • Naltrexone
    • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
    • Nalmefene
    • Acamprosate (campral)

    Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

    There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

    Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

    A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

    Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

    The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

    Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

    Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

    Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

    *based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

    There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

    If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

    If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

    Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

    How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

    There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

    Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

    There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

    Local treatment

    Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

    Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

    Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

    Treatment Away

    Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

    As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

    When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

    There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

    Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

    There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

    Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

    Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

    Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

    Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

    Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

    Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

    How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

    The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

    Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

    Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

    Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

    You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

    The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

    There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.