News Flash

Is the recession driving UK professionals to drink? As economic conditions deteriorate, treatment specialists are reporting sharp increases in people with demanding jobs seeking alcohol abuse help, especially from the financial services sector.

"Workplace stress correlates closely with heavy drinking, as does the threat of redundancy. Add to that the general problems of mounting consumer debt, spiralling household bills and a fall in property values, and you've got the perfect conditions for an alcohol problem to escalate," explains  Jill Antley, Manager at Linwood Park.

Contrary to the popular stereotypes of alcoholics, middle-class professionals are in fact at particular risk from alcohol dependence, according to figures released last year by the Office for National Statistics. Some 43 per cent of those in ' managerial and professional' occupations exceed healthy drinking limits, compared to 31 per cent among those in 'routine and manual' jobs. Among those in the highest social category - top managers and large employers - 49 per cent drank too much.And in the population at large, several studies have provided robust evidence that the prevalence of alcohol abuse is strongly connected to the psychological stress of economic recessions.For those faced with cutbacks at work and the need to meet demanding targets under challenging conditions, the temptation to 'self-medicate' may be strong, warns Jill.

And while outwardly high-achieving and super-competent, many professionals feel under enormous pressure to hide the stress they feel - and their reactions to it - from their families, friends and colleagues.But there are clear signs to look out for, she adds. These include:

  • Finding excuses for drinking - bad news at work or giving departing employees "a good send-off" regularly turns into a long evening in the pub.
  • A drop-off in performance - taking days off, being late for work or simply not being 'on the ball', because you've got a hangover. Needing a lunchtime drink to counteract the effects of last night's drinking
  • Missed targets and appointments - procrastination and forgetfulness have become a habit due to heavy drinking.
  • Risk-taking - gambling on the outcome of a business deal, on the basis of factors or evidence beyond your control.
  • Defensiveness - becoming irritable if colleagues point out how much you are drinking.

"Anyone who is self-medicating in these ways should be aware of the warning signs and seek alcohol abuse help before their situation becomes critical," says Jill Antley. For alcohol help and advice, contact Linwood Park on 0800 066 4173. 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)