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Drugs and alcoholAlcohol

Having a drink to unwind, celebrate, commiserate or give courage is part of British culture.  Being a student can often involve peer pressure to binge drink.

It is amazing how alcohol can sneak up on us.  The odd glass in the evening can quickly become 2 or 3, most evenings.

Know your limits, and try to stick to them…

Healthy drinking limits

The lower risk guidelines are:

  • women should not regularly drink more than 2 to 3 units a day
  • men should not regularly drink more than 3 to 4 units a day

Everyone should have 1-2 days off drinking per week.

You can calculate units of alcohol (see below) or use the Change 4 Life drinks checker.

Units of alcohol should be on alcohol labels or you can calculate by multiplying the percentage alcohol with the volume (in litres).

For example, a bottle of wine (75cl = 0.75 litres) with 12% alcohol, 0.75 x 12 = 9 units in the bottle.

Effects of drinking 

Lower risk drinking

  • increased relaxation
  • sociability

Medium risk drinking (more than guidelines opposite)

  • lack of sleep
  • less energy
  • depression/stress
  • impotence or reduced fertility
  • decrease in work performance
  • risk of injury
  • reduced social interest

Higher risk drinking (35 + units for women and 50 + for men)

All of the above, plus

  • memory loss
  • risk of liver disease, heart disease and cancer
  • risk of alcohol dependence
  • family breakdown
  • financial loss

Benefits of cutting down

Physical

  • better sleep
  • feel better in the morning (fewer hangovers)
  • more energy
  • skin looking better
  • feel in better shape
  • stop gaining weight and lose a few pounds
  • feel less tired during the day
  • reduced risk of high blood pressure, cancer and liver disease
  • reduced risk of injury to yourself and others

Psychological/Social/Financial

  • improved mood
  • improved relationships with others
  • reduced risks of drink driving and criminal acts
  • save money
  • better work performance

Reducing the amount you drink

Keep a drink diary for a few weeks (see below or visit the NHS Choices interactive tools to track your drinking).

Medical warning : if you have physical withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, sweating or feeling anxious until you have a drink, take medical advice before stopping completely. See Last Orders below

Top tips for cutting down

  • make a drink last longer or add a mixer
  • switch to a smaller glass or lower strength beer/lager/wine
  • quench your thirst with non-alcoholic drinks
  • talk about your plans to cut down drinking
  • plan distractions for when you'd  normally drink such as exercise
  • avoid/limit time with 'heavy' drinking pals
  • don't drink in rounds
  • eat before you go out to drink
  • treat yourself to a cinema trip or meal out with the money you've saved

Useful websites and helplines

The Last Orders website gives information on the services they provide, plus you can download a leaflet giving more on units, suggestions on cutting down etc.

Regents House is the local service giving support to the carers and family members of those using alcohol.  Call 0800 052 5959

Drinkaware is a drinks industry sponsored site which includes information pages, tools etc. The unit calculator lists common brands to help you plan for your night out. 

The NHS Choices website has lost of pages on alcohol and health such as unit and calorie calculators, tips on cutting down, personal stories etc.

See the Change 4 Life website for more on reducing drinking including the sneaky drinks advert.

Alcohol Concern is a national charity campaigning for effective policy and improved services for those affected by alcohol. Their website gives further information. See also the  National Drink Helpline 0800 917 8282

Getting help

Recognising that you have a problem is the first and hardest step.  

Last Orders is the Nottingham city service for people who want to reduce the amount of alcohol they drink.

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Your GP can refer you or you can refer yourself by calling 0115 970 9590 or email lastorders@frameworkha.org

Last Orders provide a Specialist Triage Service where you will be assessed and then referred on to the most appropriate service.  This can be done at either:

  • Cripps health centre (ring or email as above)
  • various other clinics across the city (ring or email as above)

 Drink diary

Date: ……………

Drink diary
DayWhat? How much?Reason for drinkingWhen, where, who with?How did you feel?UnitsTotal
Monday            
Tuesday            
Wednesday            
Thursday            
Friday            
Saturday            
Sunday            

 

Sources: Last Orders, NHS Choices,  Change4Life, University of Nottingham HealthyU, University of Nottingham Counselling Service