Alcohol and us – It’s all about the units
Buckinghamshire’s residents are being encouraged to think about their habits around alcohol and increase their understanding of safer drinking levels.
This year Buckinghamshire’s Director of Public Health Annual Report takes a closer look at our relationship with alcohol in Buckinghamshire, as it is a crucial influence on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities and sets out what can be done to reduce the amount of alcohol we drink in the county. It contains stories from Bucks residents about how alcohol has impacted on their lives as well as the facts about alcohol use in Bucks. In the report local professionals (including healthcare staff, police and voluntary sector) highlight the impacts on people’s lives they see during the course of their work.
Many people in Buckinghamshire enjoy drinking alcohol – to celebrate, relax or just through habit, but may not be aware that they are drinking at levels that could be harming their health.
To keep the health risks of alcohol to a low level, the Chief Medical Officer recommends it is safest not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week. This should be spread over several days with some alcohol free days in between.
The Chief Medical Officer also recommends that children should have an alcohol free childhood.
Whether you like the occasional drink, have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner most nights, regularly go out drinking with friends or drink at home, you can lower your risk of conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and dementia by taking simple steps to reduce your alcohol intake.
There are lots of apps that can help you keep track of how much you are drinking, give you tips to help cut down and point you in the right direction if you need one to one support. The Bucks Drink Checker website has a really good app – check it out for yourself at https://buckscc.drinkchecker.org.uk
However, if you’re regularly drinking more than the recommended amount or you feel you can't manage without drinking alcohol, you may be experiencing signs of alcohol dependence. Please seek the advice of your GP or a local support service such as One Recovery Bucks (https://onerecoverybucks.org/) to help you safely cut down on the amount of alcohol you’re drinking.
More than 1 in 4 adults in the county (that’s over 100,000 people) drink at levels above recommended guidelines. Unfortunately, drinking too much alcohol does not just affect the health of the individual who is drinking it but it can also impact on children and families and wider society. Higher levels of alcohol use can result in relationship and family breakdown, domestic violence and other violent crimes as well as loss of employment.
Jane O’Grady, Director of Public Health for Buckinghamshire said:
“Alcohol is part of many of our lives so it is important that people understand the facts about alcohol and then they can make informed decisions about their drinking.
“Due to different size measures and strengths it can be difficult to know how much you are drinking and people may be harming their health because they don’t realise they are drinking too much.
“People may be surprised to know that drinking more than 14 units a week is highest in older age groups in Bucks. Drinking above the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended level is also more common among more affluent people and men.
“Although fewer young people are drinking more than previously it is important to think about the messages we give our children about alcohol by what we say and equally importantly what we do as parental influences play a key role in young people’s drinking habits.”
To read the full Buckinghamshire Director of Public Health Annual Report visit http://www.healthandwellbeingbucks.org/jsna-dphar
Gareth Williams, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Public Health said: “It is hard to change a habit that has possibly been a part of your lifestyle for years but with the research showing that more people are drinking at levels which are damaging their own health, it is important we all understand how much is too much.
“Being more aware of what you are drinking and having a clearer understanding of how much alcohol is in the drinks you are served in pubs, restaurants or clubs as well as the drinks you serve yourself at home will help keep your drinking at the safer lower risk levels and help you avoid the potential health impacts that drinking too much alcohol can have on you.
“Don’t forget to try one of the apps such as www.buckscc.drinkchecker.org.uk to help you keep track of how you’re doing.”
The image shows you what 14 units of alcohol could look like.