The 14th – 20th November marks Alcohol Awareness Week 2016. The aim of Alcohol Awareness Week is to get people thinking about alcohol – how it affects us as individuals, families, communities and society as a whole. This year’s theme is alcohol and health; looking at knowing the risks associated with alcohol by focusing on the relationship between particular health conditions and alcohol. This includes cancer, depression, dementia, breast cancer, diabetes, hypertension and brain damage.
It is important to distinguish between the different ways that alcohol is consumed. Research suggests that having the occasional drink is fine, but that “binge” drinking can have serious health risks.
Alcohol abuse occurs when a person is not dependent on alcohol, but is drinking enough to cause themselves physical or psychological harm.
Alcohol addiction (or dependence) can occur if a person drinks frequently or drinks large amounts of alcohol. You may be dependent on alcohol if you have experienced ONE or more of the following symptoms during a year:-
- a strong urge to drink, difficulty controlling how much you drink, or difficulty stopping drinking
- physical withdrawal symptoms when reducing drinking: sweating, shaking, agitation and nausea
- an increased tolerance to alcohol
- a gradual neglect of other activities
- persistent drinking, even though it is obviously causing harm.
You can read more about alcoholism in our Help with alcoholism fact sheet. We also have a list of useful support organisations that can be found in our Directory, as well as the story of a journey to recovery. Our Health Support Programme can assist those struggling with alcoholism, as well as substance abuse, gambling and eating disorders (more fact sheets are available here).