The day has finally come where we have a report that reflects what I have been seeing for quite some time. I teach people how to stop drinking and I ran a very successful alcohol service for years so have had the privilege of working with some great researchers and trainers.
I know that alcohol is an issue, I have seen it, I also know it doesn’t take that much alcohol for there to be a problem.
However, for years now we have had this ridiculous thing where at least half of the information we have in the media and from some professionals, is incorrect. Like a cardiologist telling you it's ok for you to drink moderately after a heart attack. Or your mental health worker telling you moderate drinking is ok if you have anxiety and depression and my all-time personal fave a midwife telling you it's ok to drink whilst pregnant.
There have been so many problems with this. First let's take the word moderate. This means different things to different people. Then we have the national guidelines; but again, people struggle with this as a lot of people don’t know what a unit is.
Then we have those studies and articles in the press telling us we will live longer if we drink a glass of red wine every day. Or it will help our memory if we drink champagne or drinking red wine is good for us because of the anti-oxidants. Just to be clear to get the benefit of the anti-oxidants in red wine you would need to drink a barn full.
I completely forgive you all for being confused. However, I am not and haven’t been since I started training and working in this area, that’s nearly 12 years.
Alcohol is one of our most harmful substances and what we need are clear guidelines, clear reporting and clear health information: How much is too much and what does that mean. Then we need all professionals singing from the same song sheet and the media to stop saying it's good for us, when it clearly isn’t.
Thank god for this study. It makes it super clear.
A new analysis of data, published in The Lancet, reports that recommended alcohol limits in many countries should be lowered to around 100g/week for men and women.
Here is a link to the Lancet with more information and links to the study. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30134-X/fulltext
Even better here is an easier to read expert reaction to the study. http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-study-looking-at-drinking-alcohol-life-expectancy-and-alcohol-limits/
But how much is 100g of alcohol. I know, don’t you just love it when people say things like that.
Units are the easiest ways to understand the amount you are drinking so let's break it down into that.
100g of alcohol a week = 14.3g of alcohol a day
1 unit of alcohol = 10 ml of pure alcohol = 8 grams
Thats 12.5 units of alcohol a week a little under the recomended guidelines.
To give you an idea
That’s 8 small glasses of wine 125ml, about 5 glasses of a medium sized glass 175ml and 4 large 250ml glasses in a week.
5 pints of 4% lager or beer.
Use this unit calculator to work out your units https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/understand-your-drinking/unit-calculator
In the UK the guidelines are 14 units a week, so it’s a little over.
However, as an alcohol specialist I highly recommend taking a break. Resetting some of those bad habits around alcohol, you know using it to cope, celebrate, socialise etc. You can do 30 days, 3 months; even longer if you want. If alcohol is your solution then you need some better ones.
After this I highly recommend occasional. Which means exactly that, an occasional drink. Plan it, have 1 from time to time, just to prove you can do it more than anything.
Treat it like a takeaway, you wouldn’t have a takeaway every night? Well I hope not anyway. So why drink every night?
Make it the norm to have more alcohol-free days than drinking days.
Bottom line, alcohol is a harmful, highly addictive substance and most people will drink more than 1 and will drink most days. Do yourself a favour and take a break, reset, then occasional is the word.
Check out my other blogs for more information on how to reduce or take a break.