So you have a niggling feeling that you might be drinking too much and you want to know what’s an acceptable level of alcohol consumption?
Well the official guidelines are pretty clear about the fact that alcohol is a toxin and drinking it is bad for you. However, given that alcohol is an integral part of our social environment and it is not
illegal like some addictive or toxic substances, the government has set out some guidelines about the levels of drinking you should not be exceeding on a regular basis.
The guidelines (updated on January 2016) now state that neither men nor women should drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week. 14 units is the equivalent of 6 glasses (175ml) of wine, 6 pints of beer, or 14 x 25ml glasses of spirits. Drinking more than this puts your health at risk.
Within those guidelines, you will know if you are drinking too much, simply from the amount you consume. It can be helpful to keep a drinks journal. By doing this, it will eliminate the guesswork and you might also be surprised by the amount you do actually drink. It is always easy to underestimate, if you don’t want to face the truth.
However, that is not always what people mean when they ask if they are drinking too much. The underlying question is probably more likely to be “Am I addicted?” or “Am I an alcoholic?”
If this is your concern, then here are some questions to ask yourself.
- Do you need to drink more alcohol to get the same effect as you used to?
- Do you find yourself drinking to calm your nerves, or take you mind off your problems?
- Do you ever find you are unable to stop drinking once you have started?
- Do your friends or family express concern about the amount you drink and ask you to cut down?
- Do you ever start the day with a drink?
- Do you experience blackouts after drinking?
If you answered “Yes” to any or all of these questions, it might be time to start thinking about how you can cut down your alcohol intake. Even if you are not yet addicted, your alcohol consumption is causing problems and unless you try and reduce it or cut it out altogether, things will only get worse.
What should I do?
People who drink a lot often think they could give up whenever they want to, but generally they relapse if they do not find support to help them through the withdrawal.
Withdrawing from alcohol can cause some quite severe withdrawal symptoms and you will also find that you need to change your habits to make the transition easier. Working with someone who understand the issues surrounding alcohol addiction, will help you.
Either speak to your GP about it or consider looking for a rehabilitation programme to help you through the withdrawal.