A national week to raise awareness of the issues around alcohol is being supported by the ²gether NHS Foundation Trust.
Alcohol Awareness Week 2012 starts today (Nov 19) and this year it’s aimed at encouraging people to talk about drinking.
The hope is that people will openly discuss the health risks, social problems, stigmas and taboos associated with alcohol.
Dr Karen Williams, Associate Medical Director and Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist, from the ²gether NHS Foundation Trust, said it was important to get these issues out in the open.
She said: “When people talk about alcohol they tend to discuss the obvious topics such as underage drinking, people who get drunk and violent in the street and alcoholism.
“What we tend not to talk about are the many people who hold down responsible jobs and are damaging their health by drinking too much.
“It’s a hidden issue because many people drink alcohol in the privacy of their own homes. However, they are causing just as much damage to their health as those who frequent the clubs and pubs in towns and cities up and down the country.
“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.”
Talking points being promoted by charity Alcohol Concern, which organises Alcohol Awareness Week, are:
· Over 45s are three times as likely to drink alcohol every day than younger people;
· People who work are more likely to drink alcohol than the unemployed;
· Around 200,000 people go to work with a hangover every day; and
· Alcohol is the second biggest risk factor for cancer after smoking.
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 http://www.dryjanuary.org.uk/