Is alcohol bad for you?

Alcohol

Is alcohol bad for you?
It can be. Drinking alcohol within recommended limits may be beneficial, but drinking more than this can lead to a whole range of health problems.

What are the recommended limits?
The latest medical guidelines are that men should drink no more than three to four units a day, and women should drink no more than two to three units a day. You should also have at least two alcohol-free days per week.

What is one unit of alcohol?
One unit is half a pint of beer containing no more than 3.5% alcohol, one 25 ml measure of spirits containing 40% alcohol, or one 125 ml glass of wine containing no more than 9% alcohol. Most wines contain a lot more than 9% alcohol. Most drinks contain more than one unit. For example, a pint of premium lager containing 5% alcohol, and a 250 ml glass of ordinary wine containing 12% alcohol both contain 3 units.

What if I drink more than this but never feel drunk?
Drinking more than recommended limits of alcohol can damage your health even if you don’t get drunk. Regular drinkers may develop alcohol tolerance, which mean they are able to drink more alcohol before they feel the effect.

Can I save all my units up and drink them all at the weekend?
No. Drinking little all week, them bingeing on the weekend may damage your health.

What other problems can be caused by drinking too much?
* Diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke, cancer, stomach ulcers, liver cirrhosis, memory loss, obesity, infertility, muscle disease, skin problems, and hangovers
* Anxiety and depression
* Alcohol is often linked to social problems including arguments and fights with family and friends, problems at work, domestic violence, and other types of crime, including drunk driving
* People are more likely to engage in unprotected sex when drunk, putting themselves at risk of unwanted pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections
* Heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause the baby to be born with a condition known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome which involves growth deficiencies, central nervous system defects, lowered IQ and facial malformations
* Heavy drinking can cause alcohol dependency or addiction.

What is alcohol dependency?
Alcohol dependency is a state of physical dependence on alcohol. An alcoholic will have a strong urge to drink, and if no alcohol is drunk, the sufferer experiences serious withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, sweating and nausea, and delirium tremens (the ‘DTs’).

Tips for cutting down:
* Keep a drink diary to work out how much you actually drink
* Set a daily or weekly limit and stick to it
* Have days when you don’t drink at all, and avoid drinking alone
* Occupy yourself to take your mind off drinking
* Avoid rounds, alternate alcoholic with non-alcoholic drinks, and drink more slowly
* Seek advice from your GP or contact Alcoholics Anonymous if you feel you need more help.

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