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Why talk about alcohol?

William Haydock

Most of us in Dorset enjoy alcohol and drink without suffering many obvious negative consequences.  However, we know that there are risks associated with alcohol – and these aren’t confined to the heaviest drinkers.

Alcohol can harm our physical and mental health, and affect other aspects of our lives.  There are links between drinking alcohol and a range of health conditions, including breast cancer, for example.  And although drinking can seem to relieve anxiety and stress in the short term, we know that it can harm our mental health in the longer term.

To reduce the risks of these kind of issues, the Chief Medical Officers advise that we shouldn’t drink more than 14 units a week, which is about 6 pints of beer or a bottle and a half of wine.  These should be spread over at least 3 days, rather than crammed into one or two sessions.  It’s also recommended that we take a few days off alcohol each week, to give our bodies the chance to recuperate.

And actually, although it’s easy for units to stack up over a week, most of us drink well within those guidelines.

For those of us who find sticking to these guidelines a bit harder, there’s a range of ways to rethink your relationship with alcohol, whether that’s thinking about having a few days without alcohol each week, choosing a non-alcoholic drink instead, or cutting out alcohol completely.  And there’s local support available, whatever your situation or goal.

The negative effects of drinking might not be that dramatic, particularly in the short-term, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth thinking about.  There are plenty of people who wouldn’t have said they had a serious problem with alcohol but have found that by giving up just for a month through Dry January, for example, or maybe for a bit longer through a ‘Sober Spring’, they feel happier, healthier and more productive just in their everyday lives.

So throughout Alcohol Awareness Week, Public Health Dorset and partners are trying to encourage people to take a moment to step back and think about drinking.

Are you drinking at a ‘low risk’ level?  Are you happy with that level of risk?  Are you worried about your own – or someone else’s – drinking?  If so do you know where to get support?

Over the week we’ll be focusing on different issues and ways to address them, whether you mostly drink at home, or on a night out, or you’re worried about someone else’s drinking which seems to be harming them and other people around them.

We’ll be talking to people who’ve experienced harm through their own or other people’s drinking, people who have changed their relationship with alcohol, and people with tips and support to help you make a change yourself.

We hope this sparks a conversation, getting people talking about how we might all #RethinkDrink – so please let us know what you think and ask us questions through social media like Twitter and Facebook or via our website.

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