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When does alcohol consumption become alcohol abuse?

Most people have overdone it on alcohol before. But when does the occasional binge drinking session become something more serious and progress to alcohol abuse? Here, Port of Call discusses recommended alcohol consumption levels, explains what constitutes alcohol abuse, and gives advice about where to get alcohol support. If you need advice about alcohol rehab, talk to us today. 

Alcohol Abuse Advice

For most people, enjoying an evening drink here and there, or a night out with friends, is a pleasurable experience with very few negative consequences other than a sore head the following day. However, for some, the line between alcohol consumption and alcohol abuse can become blurred. To the extent that the notion of ‘normal’ drinking becomes a distant memory.

What are the drinking guidelines?

At the start of 2016, the alcohol limit for men was lowered to be the same as for women. The UK’s Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO) guideline for both men and women is that you are safest not to drink more than 14 units a week. This is to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level. If you do drink that much in a week, it’s best to spread this evenly across the week.

Researchers define binge drinking as consuming eight or more units in a single session for men and six or more for women. Of course, this is not an exact science because tolerance levels and the effects of alcohol vary from person to person. However, to put things into perspective, the new alcohol unit guidelines are the equivalent to six pints of average strength beer or six 175ml glasses of average strength wine.

While there aren’t any figures to gauge drinking habits against the new guidelines, the most recent statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre found that 18% of men and 13% of women drank at an increased risk of harm and 5% of men and 3% of women drank at higher risk levels. It remains to be seen how the new guidelines will effect these trends and whether the UK populous will adapt.

What is alcohol abuse?

Essentially, if you are regularly drinking more than the recommended guidelines, and are drinking increasing amounts for the sole purpose of getting drunk, then you could be showing signs of alcoholism. People who abuse alcohol may not have a physical dependence on alcohol. But they are likely to be more focused on intoxication rather than on safely enjoying alcohol.

Alcohol abuse can have a negative impact on relationships and lead to complications and a failure to meet obligations at home, work, or school. Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence , is the most severe form of alcohol abuse. It is characterised by the consumption of alcohol at a level that interferes with physical and mental health and with the aforementioned social responsibilities. An alcoholic continues to drink despite these issues that arise.

Alcohol support from Port of Call

If you’re worried that your alcohol consumption has progressed to alcohol abuse and/or addiction, Port of Call can help. Successful treatment for alcohol addiction can take several forms and determining the best course of action for you or your family is the next step. There are numerous ways to tackle alcohol addiction; from support groups, to counselling, from free ‘outpatient’ services to private rehab.

We would urge anyone who is contemplating professional alcohol addiction treatment to seek help with this process. Reaching out for help is very much the first step in tackling an addiction; one that requires a lot of courage but will ultimately help you get well. We wish to assure you that help is available and we’re here to help you navigate a range of treatment options.

Drinkaware offer a unit and calorie counter that can help you to work out your alcohol consumption levels.

Make us your first Port of Call. If you, or a loved one, are dealing with addiction we can help you to access the right addiction help at the right time. Take the first step today by speaking to one of our advisers for free on 08000029010.

About the author: Alex Molyneux

Alex is our admissions team leader. Over the last 5 years he has spoken with more than 10,000 people via our helpline and has organised over 1,000 detox and rehabilitation placements.

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