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Health Matters - Drink-free days

Health Matters - Drink-free days
02 January 2019

Dr Ian Hulme, clinical lead on substance misuse at NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group, and GP with Meadowside Medical Centre, Congleton

Many people enjoy a small tipple from time to time but regularly exceeding the recommended drinking levels can seriously damage your health.

In fact, harmful drinking is the biggest risk factor for death, ill health and disability among 15-49 year olds in the UK, and the fifth biggest risk factor across all ages. In Eastern Cheshire binge drinking in adults is worse than the national average.

If you’re reading this, you’re thinking about your drinking. Lots of us feel like we’re drinking a bit too much, or too often, or just like we could do with some time off. Drink-free days are the perfect way to reset your relationship with alcohol. It only takes three weeks to break a habit so this could be your route to happier, healthier drinking long-term.

if you’ve got into a habit of regularly drinking more than the low-risk alcohol unit guidelines, or you are not sure if you drink enough to be ‘at risk’, take a look at drinkaware.co.uk/little-less to see where your drinking habits fall.

Alcohol contributes to high blood pressure and regularly drinking over the Chief Medical Officers’ low-risk drinking guidelines increases the risk of heart disease, heart failure, heart attack and stroke. 

But new evidence from the Drinkaware Monitor 2018, a comprehensive analysis of the UK population’s drinking habits from alcohol education charity Drinkaware and YouGov, has found that almost one third (31 per cent) of UK drinkers do not recognise the link between alcohol and heart problems.

And, worryingly, 70 per cent of people drinking at higher risk levels are aware of the link but are continuing to drink at these levels.

In the wake of these figures, Drinkaware is urging people to use this year as an opportunity to assess their drinking and make simple changes, like taking several drink-free days each week, to reduce the amount they drink and improve their heart health.

Reducing the amount that you drink can help you:

  • Sleep better
  • Improve your skin
  • Lose weight
  • Save money
  • Get healthier
  • Experience a sense of achievement!

Alcohol is linked with more than 60 health conditions including liver disease, high blood pressure, depression and seven types of cancer. In fact, alcohol is the biggest cause of death for people aged 15-49 in the UK. Cutting back on alcohol reduces your risk of developing these conditions.

The UK’s top doctors (they’re called the Chief Medical Officers) recommend drinking no more than 14 units per week, spread over three or more days, and with at least two days off.