Alcohol awareness

Alcohol awareness

Many people in the UK enjoy a drink or two but often there is not much thought to the potential harm that regularly drinking alcohol can have on their health.

Alcohol misuse has been identified as a factor in contributing to or causing over 200 medical conditions including: mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast cancers; cirrhosis of the liver; heart disease; depression; stroke; pancreatitis and liver disease.

How much is too much alcohol?
Alcohol misuse is when someone drinks in a way that is deemed harmful or when they are dependent on alcohol.

To keep health risks from alcohol at low levels, it is recommended that UK adults consume no more than 14 units each week. One unit of alcohol is 10ml or pure alcohol which equates to:

  • half a pint of normal-strength lager
  • a single shot of spirits (25ml)
  • a small glass of wine (125ml) is around 1.5 units of alcohol.

Alcohol and work
Alcohol is used by some people as a coping mechanism to manage difficult personal or professional issues which can lead to other harmful behaviours and outcomes.

If someone is drinking before, during or after work it can not only increase the likelihood of workplace accidents, but also affect the productivity of the individual and impact on workplace relationships and overall performance.

How to reduce alcohol intake
If you are looking to boost your health or may be concerned about how much alcohol you or someone you know is drinking, helpful tips on cutting down or going without alcohol include:

  • having a non-alcoholic drink before and after every alcoholic drink
  • switching to low or no alcohol drinks
  • having your alcoholic drink after you have started eating
  • when bored or stressed, go for a walk instead of having a drink
  • exploring new interests that don’t involve drinking alcohol.

Benefits of reducing alcohol intake
Not only can cutting down or stopping drinking altogether improve your overall physical health, it can also help your mental wellbeing by reducing potential levels of anxiety and depression and help to boost your overall mood.

Other benefits include:

  • Improves quality of sleep: taking a break from alcohol can help us to maintain a healthier diet and provide us with more energy to do exercise, all of which can help to improve the quality and duration of our sleep. It can also help reduce the chances of getting up in the night to go to the toilet and no alcohol means no hangover symptoms – headache, nausea, low mood – the following day.
  • Helps to maintain a healthy weight: alcoholic drinks are high in calories, something we often don’t think about as they are often known as ‘hidden calories’. For example one pint of beer is the equivalent of a large doughnut. Therefore, the more we drink the more weight we are likely to gain which can lead to other health problems.
  • Alcohol-free drinks
    The rise of the wellness market and society becoming more conscious of their lifestyles means there are many alcohol-free beers and spirits to choose from, not only in the supermarkets but also in bars and restaurants. Brands are constantly improving what they offer to customers and fortunately they are becoming increasingly available to consumers.

Further resources on how to manage alcohol intake:
Alcohol Change UK

Occupational health support
If you are concerned about one of your colleagues and are seeking occupational health support, we provide drug and alcohol screening or alternatively we can conduct an occupational health referral.

For more information contact us via email: or call: 0121 601 4041.

Sources: Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (2022); Priory Group (2022); NI Direct (2021); British Heart Foundation (2020)