Do you drink too much? How to know if you have a booze problem

BRITS chug 407 pints a year but still consume less than other European nations, a new study has revealed.

But how do you know if you have a problem with booze?

Each week individual Brits are said to plough through 4.4 pints of beer or 2.3 bottles on average.

The NHS recommends that both women and men have no more than 14 units of booze a week, with a pint of beer equating for around two units depending on strength.

Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that most of Europe's major nations actually drink more than Brits.

The report states that government need to do more to tackle binge drinking.

A recent study by drug, alcohol and mental health charity With You found that one in four adults are concerned about their drinking habits as pubs reopen after coronavirus restrictions ended on indoor hospitality on Monday.

As well as one in four adults having concerns about their own drinking habits, the poll also found that, as restrictions ease, one in 10 are worried about the drinking behaviour of a partner, friend or family member.

Jon Murray, Executive Director of Services for England at With You said for many people the long awaited easing of lockdown restrictions is an exciting time, allowing people to socialise and reconnect with friends and family.

But for some, he says it’s also a time of heightened concern.

He added: "Many feeling pressure to drink more when socialising, worrying they’ll be unable to reverse drinking habits developed during lockdown or fearing they may fall back into old habits. 

Take the quiz below to see if you're drinking too much.


Elaine Hindal, head of charity Drinkaware, explains what the different scores mean for YOU, and we list some warning signs to look out for, ways to cut back and sources of help.

What your score means

0-7 = Low risk

Elaine says: If you drink fewer than 14 units a week, you’re at lower risk of dependence on alcohol and of health problems from drinking.

The good news is, if you sometimes drink more than 14 units a week it should not be too hard to cut back.

Be careful not to binge drink. It can lead to accidents and even alcohol poisoning.

If you drink 14 units a week, spread them out, with at least three drink-free days each week.

8-15 = Increasing risk

Elaine says: It’s important for you to know that your pattern of drinking could be dangerous to your health, because you could be drinking more than 14 units a week.

You could be at an increasing risk of developing some serious health problems and increasing your risk of alcohol dependence.

Now is the time to cut back on how much you have been drinking.

16-19 = Higher risk

Elaine says: Your drinking could be very dangerous to your health.

Regularly drinking much more than the low-risk guideline of 14 units a week causes serious harm – seven types of cancer (including breast), liver and heart disease, and high blood pressure.

You could be at high risk of alcohol dependence and should think seriously about drinking less and perhaps find expert support to help you.

20+ = Possible dependence

Elaine says: Your answers suggest you drink much more than the low-risk guideline of 14 units a week and your drinking is dangerous to your health.

It may already be causing problems to your physical or mental health – or both.

How to talk to someone about their drinking

Experts at With You explain some of the ways you can address issues with your loved one.

Prepare yourself: Think about what you’re going to say. Prepare yourself to be as calm and positive as possible.

Green light moments: Try to talk to your friend or family member when they’re sober. Watch for ‘green light’ moments when they are engaged with you and seem open to talking.

Be patient: These are very early conversations. Allow your friend or family member plenty of time to think and to respond. Try to listen to what they say without judging.

Suggest support: Make sure you know what support is available and have the details handy when you talk to your friend or family member. They can access online advice, chat online or use With You's service finder to find their local service.

Get support for yourself: You’re in a challenging situation and it’s important to put your own well being first. You don’t need to do this alone – there's plenty of support available for you too. You can read With You's advice for friends and family,  chat to their team online or  find your local With You service.

You could be at high risk of alcohol dependence. Please think seriously about finding expert support to help you to cut back or to stop drinking.

Mr Murray added: "Alcohol is everywhere in our society, but often people feel ashamed and embarrassed to talk about it, compounding feelings of shame and isolation.

I’ve worked in alcohol treatment services for 16 years. Behind most recovery stories is the support of family and friends.

"People are understandably worried about how and when to bring up the issue of a loved one’s drinking, fearing they could make things worse or be met with anger but a non-judgemental conversation can make a big difference and be the first step in someone making positive changes.” 

SOURCES OF HELP:

  • For confidential advice, tips and online tools, see drinkaware.co.uk. You can talk to a professional adviser by online chat or over the phone or find a list of support services either online or local to you.
  • Drinkaware urges anyone worried about their drinking, or someone else’s, to call Drinkline on 0300 123 1110.
  • Anyone concerned about their own or someone else’s drinking can also talk anonymously to a trained advisor via our online webchat. Just go to www.wearewithyou.org.uk.

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