Dry January

So it’s Dry January. But that (unfortunately) doesn’t mean that there is no rain for four weeks – it’s what quite a few regular drinkers do. They try and go without any alcohol for four weeks – just to test that they can do so, and give their liver a healthy rest.

So many people drinking too much alcohol puts a significant strain on our NHS. In these hard times when our hospital services are so overloaded, there are thousands of admissions at our local hospitals for alcohol related conditions every year. People addicted to alcohol may die many years earlier than they would have done if they’d have had a healthy lifestyle. As a local GP I’ve seen quite a few sad cases where men and women have died in their forties when their livers and other body organs have given up. As they deteriorate they usually really regret the disorganised lives that they have led, and how they’ve let their families down.

It’s a good idea to keep a diary of how much you are drinking for say two weeks. Many people underestimate their alcohol intake – by as much as 40%. Then you’ll start to understand if you’ve got a problem. National advice is for men and women to limit the amount of alcohol they drink to less than 14 units per week. Alcohol content does vary in different beers and wines, but that’s about 7 pints of beer or 10 glasses of wine (depending on size) spread over seven days.

Drinking too much alcohol can trigger medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes that the person would not otherwise have developed. Habitual heavy drinking and binge drinking are linked to an increased risk of stroke and all causes of death.

  1. I’ve struggled to control the amount of wine I drink for sometime. After a heavy day at work I can sit at home on my own and finish a bottle of wine almost every night of the week. I’m not an alcoholic- I just love my wine. How can I cut down?

A.Sounds like you’re drinking far too much alcohol. Restock your fridge at home with a range of delicious zero-alcohol drinks, especially alcohol-free wines and beers as alternatives to wine.You’ve really got to find other ways to relieve your stress from work than by drinking wine, and solve any mental health issues that you’ve got. Could you socialise more with friends so you can chat and have a laugh together over coffee or other soft drinks – let them know about how you’ve cut down on alcohol and maybe update them by Facebook to help you stick to your goal. Could you go out to the gym or go for a run in the evening to have a complete break from work? You could talk to your line manager and see if the pressures you’re experiencing at work can be reduced in some way. Go and see your GP for their advice and talk through any mental health problems.