The general term alcohol includes beer, wine and spirits which contain alcohol. Consuming alcohol is very much an individual’s choice but unfortunately we do not always see the problems this can cause. A person may consider themselves to be a ‘moderate drinker’ when in actual fact their consumption not only causes harm to them but also has quite dire consequences for their families and wider society.
Can you drink safely and reduce the risk to yourself? The Australian National Alcohol Guidelines suggest the following:
- Set limits for yourself and stick to them
- Start with non-alcoholic drinks and alternate with alcoholic drinks
- Drink slowly
- Try drinks with a lower alcohol content
- Eat before or while you are drinking
- If you participate in rounds of drinks try to include some non-alcoholic drinks
It is important to limit your use to less than two standard drinks a day for better health. But if you have any health issues and depending on age, gender, sex and even race this amount may be too much. Ultimately it is important to remember that no amount of alcohol is completely safe for your body or mind. This is why it is always important to be aware of your habit and objectively question yourself – ‘ do I have a problem?”
How do I know if I have a drinking problem?
Someone who has a problem with alcohol could have some of the following signs:
- Alcohol use becoming a priority in their life
- Needing to drink more for the same effect – called increased tolerance
- Loss of control – not being able to stop or limit drinking
- Spending a lot of time thinking about alcohol
- Cravings for alcohol which are hard to resist
- problems with work and relationships as a result of alcohol use
- Continued drinking even when they know alcohol is causing harm to their health, personal relationships or their job.
When someone’s use of alcohol causes issues in their health or for their families we say they have ‘alcohol abuse’, which is considered a disorder. But when someone has a number of the signs above for a period of time we call this alcohol dependence.
What is a Standard drink?
A stubbie or full strength Can of beer (375ml) contains one and a half standard drinks
Examples of one standard drink:
- Full Strength Beer (4.9% alcohol) – 285ml
- Light Beer (2.9% alcohol) – 425ml
- Wine (12% alcohol) 100ml
- Fortified wine (20% alcohol) 60ml
- Spirits (40% alcohol) 30ml
Consequences of excessive use of alcohol
Alcohol can have negative consequences on health, well being and social life. In turn it can badly affect those closest to you and even the broader public owing to your actions.
From a health perspective it can have a negative effect on your emotional and physical wellbeing. Alcohol is often used as a self medication by people to reduce anxiety or depression but in fact it has the opposite effect – Alcohol can cause depression and anxiety and worsen existing states. In the longer term it can lead to dementia, known as alcohol related dementia. It can even rarely give rise to psychotic illnesses. Alcohol also gives rise to stomach ailments as well as effects on the liver and the pancreas.
How alcohol counseling can help?
The most important message is that harmful use of alcohol can be treated. It is important to engage with an experienced health professional in order to do so. It can be a hard journey without the necessary guidance and counseling.
Dr Abeya can initially assist by helping you to understand your pattern of drinking and whether indeed it does require intervention. She is skilled in the treatment of mood related conditions and will always consider co-morbidities, or whether there are other conditions such as depression or anxiety present.
If you are concerned for your own wellbeing or for that of a loved one don’t delay seeking help. Counseling and discussion is always done in a nonjudgmental and caring way so that it is easier to face the journey to recovery.