Introduction to alcohol advice

North Tyneside Council is committed to reducing alcohol related harm and promoting responsible drinking but recognises that there are problems associated with over consumption of alcohol resulting in risks to health, relationships and community safety in particular.

In North Tyneside, it is estimated that more than 86% of adults who drink alcohol, drink above what are considered safe levels. This means that they are putting themselves at risk of developing health problems in the future due to their drinking.

Every year in North Tyneside, there are around 100 alcohol-specific deaths, 2,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions, around 400 alcohol-related violent crimes and thousands of work-related absences linked to drinking alcohol.

The personal, social and economic cost of alcohol has been estimated to be over £83million for North Tyneside, with cost implications for the NHS, crime and licensing, workplaces and social care.

Regular drinking too much alcohol can have severe effects on your health.  There are over 60 medical conditions that you may be at increased risk of by drinking above the guidelines, including mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast cancers, high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver and depression.

Alcohol and young people

Giving alcohol to your child from an early age does not turn them into a responsible drinker as an adult. In fact, the earlier a child is introduced to alcohol the more likely they are to have an alcohol problem later in life.

The human brain takes until the age of 25 to fully develop and alcohol can slow down brain development and have a long term impact on memory, reactions and attention span.

Young people will be less able to consent to sex or sexual touching if they drink alcohol. They are also more likely to have unprotected sex.

Children who drink alcohol are more likely to be behind at school or play truant and underage drinking increases the chance of longer term problems with alcohol misuse.

Even though there are recommended daily guidelines for adult drinkers (see above), there are NO guidelines for safe alcohol consumption for children.

Alcohol and adults

A large majority of the adult population consumes alcohol – estimated to be 90% in England. Consumption has risen markedly since the 1950s – to a peak of 9.5 litres per capita in 2004. Despite a recent decline in per capita consumption (down to 8.9 litres in 2008), consumption in the UK has remained consistently above seven litres of pure alcohol, per head, per year since 1980.

The UK is among the heaviest alcohol consuming countries in Europe. (It is important to note that per capita alcohol consumption data and survey results require some qualification. Some UK adults do not drink, while others drink both within and beyond the UK.

Whilst it is true that many adults enjoy alcohol in moderation, increasing numbers are drinking in a way that may adversely affect their health and well-being. For example, 38% of men and 29% of women report drinking above the daily recommended sensible drinking guidelines and 24% of adults are classified as hazardous drinkers (a pattern of drinking which brings about the risk of physical or psychological harm). There are now estimated 1.6m adults dependent on alcohol in England.

Understanding how many units you’re consuming or realising that alcohol can cause unhealthy weight gain may make you want to change your drinking habits. You can make informed choices and start to make positive changes to your lifestyle, limiting the impact that alcohol has on you and the people around you.

Currently, the UK recommendation is that men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week. This is the same as 6 pints of average strength beer a week.  Regularly drinking more than this can increase the risk to health. The more you drink, and the more often, the greatest the risk to your health.

Binge drinking is drinking over double the recommended daily guidelines on any single occasion. Binge drinking carries particular risks to both health and personal safety.

For practical tips to help you cut down visit the NHS Choices website.

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