How we help Advice and support Harm minimisation advice Safer Alcohol Use SAFE DRINKING GUIDELINES The current recommended safe guidelines for drinking alcohol are 14 units per week, irrespective of whether you are a man or a woman. That isn't very much. In fact it comes down to . . . . . Around a bottle and a half of wine Six pints of ordinary strength beer or lager Fourteen single (25ml) shots of spirits HOW CAN I TELL HOW MUCH I DRINK PER WEEK? Use the following guidelines to count. There is a complicated formula you can use if you know the volume of alcohol in whatever you are drinking, but the easiest way is as follows . . . . . A bottle of wine is 10 units of alcohol A pint of normal strength beer or lager is 2.5 units of alcohol A bottle of spirits is 28 units of alcohol If you are not sure how much you are drinking, keep a note of your daily intake for a few weeks, calculating it as described above. Just jot it down on a piece of paper somewhere. If you find you are drinking a significant amount above the guidelines, you might want to think of cutting down a little. HOW DO I CUT DOWN ON MY ALCOHOL USE? Firstly, it is important to have a few days a week where you don't drink at all. This gives your liver a rest and helps you to stay healthy. If you drink wine, beer or lager, next time you are at the shop pick one with a lower alcohol content. If you like to go out on a Friday or Saturday night, why not have a soft drink between the alcoholic ones? Space it out, and remember, you don't have to get falling down drunk. Tipsy will do! If you like to have a drink when you get home from work, why not have it an hour or two later and cut down on the amount of drinking time you have. Better yet, have a drink with, or after food, rather than beforehand. If you're going out on a regular basis with friends, why not try mocktails? They are very common these days, and most places serve them. HOW CAN I TELL IF A HAVE A PROBLEM? Well it's different strokes for different folks. If you've been counting your units and find that as a woman you regularly drink more than 20 units a week, or as a man you regularly drink over 30 units a week, then we would strongly advise that you think about cutting down. It's also worth bearing in mind that all addiction is psychological before it is physical (assuming that's possible since not all substances are physically addictive) and there's a simple way to test whether or not you are developing a psychological dependency. Try not to drink for two weeks. Not a drop. If you find it takes a real effort of will, then you might want to start thinking about your drinking habits. If you are regularly drinking above the limits mentioned above, especially way above, we don't want to be rude but you have a problem. If you can't get it under control by yourself then you need to think about getting some professional help. I KNOW I DRINK A LITTLE TOO MUCH, BUT I'M NOT AN ALCOHOLIC, SO WHERE'S THE HARM? To begin with, it's rare that people start out with a problem. It tends to creep up on you. Very often an unfortunate turn of events like losing a job, a bereavement and so on, can tip people from walking a thin line into having a serious problem. Unless you can read the future, that's worth thinking about. Secondly, although legal and socially acceptable, alcohol is a very dangerous substance when used to excess. There is a long list of serious illnesses that can be the result of heavy drinking. These include heart disease, high blood pressure, blackouts and memory loss, brain damage, liver disease, pancreatitis, stomach problems and a greatly increased risk of certain types of cancer. Trust us when we tell you this is not a full list by any means. It's worth bearing in mind that many of these are life changing if not life threatening. Thirdly, it's also worth remembering that some of these health problems, liver disease being an example, showing very few symptoms until they are already serious, by which time it can be too late to reverse the damage. WHAT DO I DO NOW, IF I'M WORRIED ABOUT MY ALCOHOL USE? Well you can always have a look on 'Where to Find Us', pop into your nearest Build on Belief project and have a chat with the member of staff on duty. They will be happy to give you some advice and help you decide what to do next. Another option would be to google 'alcohol treatment service' followed by the name of the borough you live in. This will give you contacts for your nearest professional treatment service. It's worth remembering, they can provide a wide range of advice, information and support. Whether you pop in for a chat with us, or visit your local treatment provider, remember confidentiality is at the centre of everything the treatment system does.