If you’re reading this page, the chances are that you have been affected by alcohol misuse in some way. Either as someone whose drinking is out of control, or as someone who lives with a spouse or partner who has developed a drink problem.
Alcohol is ‘our favourite drug’ and the most dangerous mind and body altering substance legally available.
We have compiled this information to help you understand the complex and damaging affects of consistent excessive drinking. Use it to help you recognise and be aware of the health and other consequences involved, and as a self-help guide.
If you are unable to cut back or cope on your own, please pick up the phone and talk to a member of the DAS team. We know how tough it is to begin the process of cutting back or abstaining from alcohol, and we are here to help and support you.
Do I need to change my drinking?
Three simple questions will make it easier for you to identify your own situation…if you answer them honestly.
Does my drinking cause a problem for others around me?
Is the amount of alcohol I’m drinking affecting my health and functioning?
What do other people think about my drinking?
Some tips and ideas on how to reduce your alcohol consumption
- Set your own limits. Avoid being influenced by others, and learn to say NO!
- Change your drink and choose less strong ones
- Drink at a slower rate. You might find it more relaxing
- Plan alcohol free time, but make sure you decide on an activity to replace drinking time. It’s a good idea to treat yourself.
- Limit the amount of money you have available to buy alcohol.
How alcohol can affect your health
The most common affect that many people associate with excessive alcohol use is liver damage.
The liver is an important organ in the body. It acts as a toxic filter, but if overwhelmed by too much ‘toxicity’ such as alcohol will gradually cease to function.
If it becomes damaged to the point where it no longer functions, a liver transplant may be the only solution. This is drastic, and you may be able to recall the arguments and debates that took place around well publicised transplant cases such as George Best.
But there are many other negative affects of alcohol on a person's health, that in many ways can prove just as damaging.
The physical affects drinkers can experience are:
- High blood pressure
- Obesity – alcohol is high in calories
- Heart problems
- Shaking and sweating
and among the psychological effects there is:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Anger and aggression
- Memory loss
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you need to talk to your GP. But you will need to be honest about your alcohol intake.
If you have reached the stage where you are concerned about your drinking and your health why not consult your GP at the same time as making an appointment at DAS?
Coming off alcohol…what to expect.
If you have been drinking heavily for some time, your body will have gotten used to coping with large quantities of alcohol.
If you make a decision to stop drinking suddenly you could experience alcohol withdrawals. It’s better to reduce over several days.
Everyone is different but it’s possible that you may experience a number of negative symptoms such as:
- Anxiety and irritability
- Shaking and sweating
- Deteriorating sleep patterns
- Uneven heart rate
All of these are unpleasant but not dangerous. Try and have someone with you or close by if you decide to stop drinking. Take plenty of liquids: orange juice is good as this replaces vital vitamins that alcohol dilutes. Try and eat: small amounts at first, gradually increasing your food intake.
Avoid stressful situations, rest and engage in an activity that will help you to relax - music, watching films, going for a short walk.
If you are suffering from withdrawals, or think you may experience withdrawals if you stop drinking. Speak to your GP as they may decide to prescribe tranquillisers to help
Are you affected by someone else’s drinking?
'Support 4 Change' is a support group for Families and Friends affected by someone else's Alcohol and Drug use...
Substance Abuse can affect a wide range of people, not just the drinker/user. But family members are particularly vulnerable to the harmful and damaging consequences of Alcohol and Drug issues.
DAS provides a support group for people whose lives are disrupted by someone else's substance abuse, and its’ been named ‘Support 4 Change' because it provides support for members to express their own feelings about how they cope with the difficult situations they are faced with.
It’s also a time when members can share ideas and build supportive social networks in a safe and friendly environment. Plan activities and outings, and use the some of the therapeutic facilities DAS offers to help relieve stress and anxiety.
The group meets on Monday evenings, and we’d encourage you to contact us and speak to one of the staff team, who will give you more information and put you at ease if you are worried about new situations.