News Flash

With approximately 10 million people in England drinking above the recommended guideline levels it is no wonder that we are one of the least healthy nations in Europe.  Just under a third of men (31%) and one in five women (20%) drink more than the advised weekly limits of 21 and 14 units a week respectively and some 8% of men and 2% of women drink more than the levels regarded as harmful, namely 50 and 35 units a week respectively. We are a nation desperately in need of a detox from alcohol.

The tipping point for health and wellbeing seems to come when that ‘odd drink' becomes a necessity for calming down after the stress of the day, or revving up to go out.  So how much is too much?  Well, the Government's recommended guidelines for daily alcohol consumption for adults, is: 2-3 units for a woman and up to 3-4 units for a man.  And one unit is equivalent to 8g of alcohol, which is about what you get in half a pint of a weak (4%) lager, a whole pint of strong lager (5%) or cider contains three units and two small (125ml) glasses of wine (12%) are another three units.  Binge drinking is also defined in Government guidelines as "drinking double the daily recommended unit guidelines".

If you, or a loved one, are regularly consuming over the recommended daily allowance of alcohol, it is time to think of improving your overall health and wellbeing by undertaking a time of alcohol detoxification.   The word detoxification finds its roots in the Greek word toxikon, meaning ‘poison arrow', with the idea behind that undertaking a period of detoxification meant ridding the body of this ‘poison arrow'.    Alcohol metabolism creates some nasty bi-products in the body such as acetaldehyde, which is much more toxic than the alcohol itself and a period of persistent consumption not only depresses the central nervous system but creates toxicity in almost every part of the body.

Is there, however a right and a wrong way to detox from alcohol?  Well, detoxification is the process of allowing the body to rid itself of the alcohol, while managing the symptoms of withdrawal.  So, depending on how heavily you, or a loved one has been drinking will dictate whether you need professional help to manage the detox withdrawal symptoms. If you are unsure of how to go about detoxing from alcohol, get medical advice.

So what type of withdrawal symptoms can you expect?  Well the symptoms are generally the opposite of the effects that were experienced when drinking and will vary depending on the amount of alcohol that has been regularly consumed, how long drinking at this level has been going on and the physical and mental state of the person undertaking the detox.  Detoxification - the period of time it takes for the active toxins to leave the body - can be as little as a week or as long as a few months and should be undertaken under medical advice, or within the parameters of a professional alcohol detox programme.  A spokesperson from The Linwood Group, comments: "There are two main stages to the alcohol detoxification process and we would recommend that for heavy drinkers, they seek professional help before undertaking any form of detox.  The physical symptoms of the first few hours or days will include insomnia, restlessness, muscle trembling or spasms, possible nausea or vomiting and sweating.  The psychological symptoms will most likely be anxiety and paranoia.  These can increase to seizures, chest infections, intense pains in the stomach, hand and body tremors and hallucinations, depending on the severity of the withdrawal.  The next stage in the process of withdrawal is likely to last up to six months and can include insomnia, restlessness, headaches, tiredness, muscle tremors, sexual problems, anxiety, poor concentration and depression or mood swings.

"At Linwood Park, we also realise that treating the physical withdrawal from a drug such as alcohol isn't enough in itself.  It needs to be followed by some sort of behavioural-based therapy, to address the issues that led to the excessive drinking patterns in the first place.  Detox on its own, with no follow-up treatment of the underlying psychological, social, and behavioural problems associated with addiction is not a long-term solution to drinking problems.  It is most useful however, and has the greatest chance of making a long-term difference, when it incorporates assessment and referral to subsequent treatment programs."

So, if you, or a loved one, are beginning to feel unwell due to drink, how about calling Linwood Park to see how to undertake a safe alcohol detox programme? Call free on 0800 066 4173 (or if you are calling from a mobile phone or from overseas, call 01226 698 054) for professional, confidential advice on those vital first steps on the road to recovery. Alternatively you can complete the form here on the web site, to be found at the foot of each page.

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Drinking too much - safer drinking tips for party goers.

As Don Shenker, the chief executive of Alcohol Concern was recently quoted in the national media*: "We'll all enjoy a festive drink over the coming weeks, but there is no longer any doubt that far too many people are drinking at dangerous levels."  Although the festive season is meant to be about celebration and enjoying time together, there are many that are drinking too much over the holiday period.  In fact the Department of Health is so concerned about this trend, that they have announced a mobile phone application that can be downloaded that acts as an alcohol tracker.  (see iTunes or visit NHS for more information).

Although this innovative new tool allows drinkers to input how much they are consuming and view graphs of whether they are sticking to recommended units, there is still an element of discipline and pre-planning required to do this.  So, how can you enjoy the festive season, but not put yourself at risk?  A spokesperson from  Linwood Park gives you some hints:

Know your limit - First of all, it is important to know ‘how much is too much'.  Government guidelines for safe drinking suggest that 21 units for a man and 14 units per week for a woman are safe.  This works out at 2-3 units of alcohol per day for a woman and 3-4 units for a man.

Size matters! - Remember that the measurement of a unit of drink is suggested as being half a pint of beer, a glass of wine or a pub measure of spirits.  If you are celebrating at home it is worth keeping in mind that measures will be vastly different to those in a pub and watch out for those specialty beers and spirits that will be more units per glass.

Advanced planning - Before you go out for a celebration, think how much you plan to drink and stick to it.  Also, if you think that no food is going to be served there, eat first.  Drinking on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster.  Finally, think about how you will be getting home and don't leave it to chance, have taxi numbers in your phone or pocket to ensure the night doesn't end badly.

Social drinking - Round-buying is the ticket to disaster.  Either choose to skip rounds or buy your own, so you don't ‘drink to keep-up'.  Also keep an eye on the number of times a drink is topped-up.  Just because you haven't had to go to the bar for a refill, doesn't mean you aren't consuming way over the legal limit.

Pace yourself - Pace is key to a night you will want to remember, not forget!  Alternate alcohol and soft drinks, or dilute alcoholic drinks to ensure you don't overdo it.  Remember the darker the drink the worse the hangover, so go for spritzers or shandy rather than red wine or whisky.

Dance the night away - Rather than placing all of the focus on drinking, why not make sure that there is something else planned for the evening of festivities, such as dancing, bowling, a pub quiz/games Etc.  This will help take the focus off of the alcohol and ensure that the night's fun revolves around more than just getting drunk.

Whether you are planning to party out and about, or at home this festive season, remember that you can be in control of your drinking.  By thinking ahead and planning your evening you can ensure that not only will you have a night that you remember, but one that your body doesn't regret for days afterwards.

If the thought of regulating your drinking seems unthinkable, or you are finding that the need to celebrate the festive season doesn't end on January 1st and you think that you are drinking too much, why not check out Linwood Park's Traffic Light Drinking system to see if you need to get some professional advice on taking control of the drink, before it takes control of you?

If you would like to find out more about drinking too much or need help with yours or a loved one's drinking, then why not call Linwood Park's confidential helpline on: Freephone 0800 066 4173 (or if you are calling from a mobile phone or from overseas, call +44 1226 698 054) to find out how to get help sooner rather than later? Alternatively you can complete the form here on the web site, to be found at the foot of each page.

*The Guardian, Saturday 12 Dec 2009 ‘MP's back alcohol price control to curb drinking'.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 19 April 2011 09:13)