Alcoholism & Treatment 

Alcohol: our favourite drug

  • Alcohol is the UK’s favourite drug. Most of us use it for enjoyment and relaxation. However, for some of us, drinking alcohol can become a serious problem.

  • Alcohol causes much more harm than illegal drugs like heroin and cannabis.

  • It's a tranquilliser, and it's highly addictive.

  • It's the cause of many preventable hospital attendances and admissions, especially at the weekend.

Alcohol statistics (Alcohol Concern)

  • 7% of adults in England regularly drink over the Chief Medical Officer’s low-risk guidelines: less than 14 units per week for men and women

  • However, in 2016, 21% of the population reported being abstinent and overall consumption had fallen by around 18% since 2004.

  • In the UK, in 2015 there were 8,758 alcohol-related deaths (around 14 per 100,000 people). The mortality rates were highest among people aged 55-64.

  • In England, there are an estimated 595,131 dependent drinkers, of whom only 108,696 are currently accessing treatment (<20%).

  • Alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health, and disability among 15-49 year-olds in the UK.

  • Alcohol harms are estimated to cost the NHS around £3.5 billion annually.

  • While the price of alcohol has increased by 36% since 2005, it remains 60% more affordable than it was in 1980.


Problems with Alcohol

  • Many of these problems are caused by having too much to drink at the wrong time or place.

  • Alcohol affects your judgment, so you do things you wouldn't normally think of. It takes away your inhibitions.

  • It makes you less aware of risks and so more vulnerable.

  • You are more likely to have fights, arguments, money troubles, family upsets, or impulsive casual sex. 

  • Alcohol leads to accidents at home, on the roads, in the water, and on playing fields.


Physical health problems with Alcohol

  • Being very drunk (acute intoxication) can lead to:

    • severe hangovers

    • stomach pains (gastritis)

    • vomiting blood (haematemesis)

    • unconsciousness

    • death!

  • Chronic drinking can cause:

    • hypertension (high BP)

    • heart disease

    • stroke 

    • liver disease (cirrhosis)

    • pancreatitis and

    • increased risk of some kinds of cancer such as mouth, laryngeal, oesophageal, breast, and bowel cancers.

  • Even just 3 units of alcohol daily can increase the risk!

  • However, it can reduce the risk of heart disease for men over 40 and women of menopausal age - but only if their drinking is very moderate: less than 2 units daily.


Mental health problems with Alcohol

  • Heavy drinking (more than 8 drinks per week) can cause and worsen depression and anxiety.

  • Alcohol makes people lose their inhibitions and behave more impulsively increasing the risk of deliberate self-harm and suicide.

  • Alcohol can cause memory problems and brain damage, e.g. Wernicke’s encephalopathy.

  • Heavy drinking can cause paranoia, morbid jealousy, and hallucinations, and delusions (psychosis).

  • Heavy drinkers stopping alcohol suddenly can develop the medical emergency of Delirium Tremens (DTs) – psychosis, body tremors, and confusion. Urgent medical treatment is needed.

  • Heavy drinking can adversely affect relationships with a partner, family, friends, and at work.


Warning signs of Alcohol addiction (physical and psychological dependence)

  • You don't feel right without a drink or need a drink to start the day (“eye-opener”)

  • Get very shaky, sweaty, and anxious or tense a few hours after your last drink (physical withdrawal)

  • Can drink a lot without becoming drunk (tolerance)

  • Need to drink more and more to get the same effect (tolerance)

  • Try to stop, but can't (due to withdrawal symptoms)

  • Carry on drinking even though you can see it's interfering with your work, family, and relationships

  • You get "memory blanks" where you can't remember what happened for a period of hours or days.

If you are concerned about your drinking or need some professional advice, treatment, or a Home Alcohol Detox (medically-assisted withdrawal), contact us for help today. Home alcohol detox under daily consultant supervision may be a suitable option if you are drinking up to 30 units daily. Otherwise, residential detox and rehabilitation would be recommended and admission could be arranged.  

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