Drinking alcohol is a common pastime in British culture and is involved in many celebrations such as weddings, birthdays, Christmas, New Year etc.
For many people it is part of their everyday social lives: wine and food; a night out with the girls, boys or gang; a quiet drink with a friend, or the one you love; a quick one after work.
Alcohol may be legal, but it is still a drug, meaning that it changes the way we feel, think and behave. Itis seen by many as a socially acceptable drug, but that’s not to say it’s necessarily any less powerful than other drugs.
Alcohol affects various parts of the brain resulting in the slurring of the speech, trouble seeing and hearing, loss of balance and loss of short-term memory.
It is a depressant drug and therefore slows down the body's responses. In moderation, it can be a relaxant, lowering inhibitions, and making you feel more sociable. However, if you drink enough of it, the body can shut down completely, resulting in coma and even death.
Its depressant effect on the brain makes it difficult to process thoughts, exaggerating emotions and affecting our judgement, leading us to do things we wouldn’t otherwise do, and that we may regret later.
Sensible Drinking Guidelines
Official guidelines recommend that men shouldn’t regularly drink more than three to four units a day and women shouldn’t regularly drink more than two to three units a day because of the harm this may cause.
Guidelines also state that you should have at least two alcohol-free days each week, and recommend that after an episode of heavy drinking, it’s advisable to refrain from drinking for 48 hours to allow the tissues in your body to recover.
What is a unit?
One alcohol unit is measured as 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. The number of units in a drink is determined by the size and strength of the drink. Unfortunately it's not as simple as one drink, one unit, and the alcoholic content in the same types of drinks can vary a lot.
For more information on how to calculate units please visit the NHS Choices website.
Am I drinking too much?
Most people will be fine if they drink within the sensible limits for regular drinking, but for some people, drinking gradually gets out of control.
Psychological and physical dependence on alcohol can creep up on you, especially if you drink excessively on a regular basis. Tolerance can gradually increase, meaning that you need more alcohol to reach the same state. In other words, if you feel that you are getting better at holding your drink that could be a sign of a developing problem.
The Down your drink website provides a simple tool to find out whether you are drinking too much.
Alcohol and Law
There are strict laws governing the selling and consumption of alcohol in the UK.
Directgov offers clear guidance on issues relating to drinking and young people, drink driving and drinking in public. A blood alcohol content calculator is also available which assists in working out when a person is 'alcohol free'.
If you are concerned about your own drinking or worried about a family member or friend and need help or advice, you should call the national drink helpline, Drinkline, on 0800 917 8282.
If you would like to talk to someone locally for information, advice or support, contact:
Community Alcohol Service
Tel: 01724 852675
86 Oswald Road, Scunthorpe
Drop in -
Monday to Friday, 10am to 12pm,
Wednesday, 5pm to 7pm
Knotted Note, Fleetgate, Barton Upon Humber
Tel: 01652 637489
Drop in -
Thursday, 1.30pm to 5pm
North Lincolnshire's under 19's Drug and Alcohol Service, offering free help and support to young people, worried about their own or someone else's drug/alcohol use.
Contact: 01724 298528.