You might see Go Sober for October being advertised on the TV or on advertising boards dotted around town every year, but how much should we be turning our attention to our alcohol consumption and is it something we should always be mindful of? Are you fully aware of the effects of alcohol on your health, your body and mind?
We’re taking a look at the long-term effects of alcohol on our bodies and what the recommended weekly units are that we should be sticking to.
First introduced in 1987, the counting of units was put in place to help the UK keep track of what they were consuming. The NHS say: “Units are a simple way of expressing the quantity of pure alcohol in a drink.
“One unit equals 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol, which is around the amount of alcohol the average adult can process in an hour.”
The weekly limit for both men and women is 14 units, previous guidelines stated 21 units for men and 14 for women but this changed back in 2016. This in reality means 6 pints of average strength beer a week or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.
It’s recommended however not to save up your units from the week and consume them all in one session; the guidelines are to spread your 14 units over 3 days or more.
There are long-term and short-term effects that alcohol can have on both your physical and mental health when you are regularly drinking too much or binge drinking.
As soon as alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream and starts circulating around your body, various short-term effects can start occurring:
…and then comes the dreaded hangover the day after:
It can also affect your memory, so it’s common to not remember all that happened the night before.
Drinking heavily for a long period of time can have serious effects on various areas of your health. From both physical to mental, the long-term effects can be severe and sometimes irreversible.
Advice on the NHS states: “realising you have a problem with alcohol is the first big step to getting help” and that going to your GP and being honest with them on how much you are drinking is a good place to start.
The NHS state that you may need help if:
Your GP may be able to point you in the direction of local groups or alcohol services that would be able to help and support you.
Many people need longer-term plans in place to help them stay away from alcohol, as maintaining that level of control can be difficult. The NHS has lots of useful contacts on their website to help support people with alcohol problems, as this is something not to go through alone.