A national awareness week held every November to raise awareness of the issues around alcohol is being supported by ²gether NHS Foundation Trust.
Alcohol Awareness Week 2014 starts today (Nov 17) and this year the theme being promoted by organisers Alcohol Concern is ‘Facing our alcohol problem: Taking back our health and high streets.’
Dr Karen Williams, Associate Medical Director and Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist with ²gether, said it was important to use the occasion to openly discuss the impact alcohol has on individuals and communities.
She said: "Alcohol has a huge impact on society, and we can all do something, particularly this week, to think carefully about how much alcohol we are consuming and the impact that might have on our health and the people around us.
"It’s also a chance to talk to others about their alcohol consumption and encourage some small steps they could take to improve their health and wellbeing.
"If people stick to the recommended guidelines for alcohol, then drinking is not too much of a problem.
"However, excessive alcohol consumption can have long term health impacts, including heart disease and psychological illnesses like depression and anxiety. It can also impact upon your everyday life and affect your friends and family.
"I’d urge everyone to use Alcohol Awareness Week to talk about drinking and seek help and advice if they need it."
To calculate the units of alcohol in your favourite drink, visit NHS Choices or click here.
Alcohol Concern is also urging people to sign up for ‘Dry January’, which is aimed at encouraging people to give up alcohol for the month.
Dr Williams said Dry January could be a good way for people to assess how much better abstinence could make them feel.
She said: "By giving up alcohol for the month of January you should see an impact on your health, waistline, skin and bank balance. This might encourage you, if not to give up alcohol entirely, to cut down on what you are drinking."
Dry January is not a medical detox programme, and should not be undertaken by people with alcohol dependency issues, who should instead seek medical advice, approach alcohol support services or your family GP for advice.
For information on Dry January visit www.dryjanuary.org.uk.
If you are concerned about your levels of alcohol consumption, then your first step should always be to speak to your GP.
If you live in Herefordshire, you can also contact ²gether’s Drugs and Alcohol Service Herefordshire, on 01432 263636 for advice or visit www.²gether.nhs.uk/dash