Alcohol can damage our bodies in many ways if we drink too much of it.
Short-term consequences of drinking too much alcohol can include accidents and injuries, violent behaviour, sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies, loss of personal possessions, alcohol poisoning – leading to vomiting, seizures, unconsciousness and in extreme cases, death.
Potential long-term consequences include:
Long-term misuse can also lead to social and domestic problems and alcohol dependency.
Following extensive research the NHS has published guidance on safe limits of alcohol consumption. These are based on units of alcohol. (A unit is 10ml of pure alcohol and is equivalent to a half-pint of normal-strength lager or a single measure of spirits, or 2/3 of a glass of wine).
The guidance states that to keep the risk of alcohol-related harm low, people should:
- not regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week.
- if drinking more than 14 units per week, they should spread these over three days or more.
- try to have several alcohol-free days per week.
The recommended limits in the above guidance apply equally to men and women.
Your alcohol intake may be assessed using tests, such as:
- the Fast Alcohol Screening Test (http://www.alcohollearningcentre.org.uk/Topics/Browse/BriefAdvice/?parent=4444&child=4570) – a simpler test to check whether your drinking has reached dangerous levels
- the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/files/AUDIT.pdf) – a widely used screening test that can help determine whether you need to change your drinking habits
- the Severity of Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire (http://www.alcohollearningcentre.org.uk/Topics/Latest/Resource/?cid=4615) – this helps identify how severely dependent on alcohol you may be