How Do You Know If You Drink Too Much and What To Do About It

Fairly recently I realised I was drinking far more than was good for me.  I probably only really realised this over the last couple of years though. In hindsight I think it has probably been a bit of a problem for the last few years, although I’m not really sure of an exact date.

How do you know when your drinking is a problem?  Well my personal opinion is that if you are drinking more than the recommended weekly intake, then there is a problem.  There are other factors to consider as well I guess, if your drinking is affecting your daily life or you are avoiding certain situations because it will interfere with your drinking, then that is also a problem,

Accordng to the NHS, men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol  a week and this should be spread over at least three days.  Fourteen units might sound a lot but when you think of it in actual drinks, it’s really not that much.  I found this information on this page on the NHS website and I thought it would be useful to share it with you.  Even if you don’t drink too much, it’s still quite handy to know. (This chart is copied from the NHS website so I hope it reads ok when published.)

 Drinks and units

A 750ml bottle of red, white or rosé wine (ABV 13.5%) contains 10 units.

See the guide below to find out how many units are in your favourite tipple.

Type of drink

Number of alcohol units

Single small shot of spirits * (25ml, ABV 40%)

1 unit

Alcopop (275ml, ABV 5.5%)

1.5 units



Pint of lower-strength lager/beer/cider (ABV 3.6%)

2 units

Standard glass of red/white/rosé wine (175ml, ABV 12%)

2.1 units

Pint of higher-strength lager/beer/cider (ABV 5.2%)

3 units

Large glass of red/white/rosé wine (250ml, ABV 12%)

3 units

 

*Gin, rum, vodka, whisky, tequila, sambuca. Large (35ml) single measures of spirits are 1.4 units.

To put it in perspective I could easily drink a bottle of wine in one evening, that’s ten units in one sitting.  Actually on a Friday or Saturday night I could drink a bottle and a half, that’s a whole weeks worth of alcohol in one evening.

So five large glasses of wine in a week is too much.  Most wine glasses are fairly big now aren’t they, I reckon you get abut three large glasses to a bottle, so one and a half bottles of wine over a week is the maximum you should, accordng to the guidelines, be drinking.  I think that’s quite scary, it’s not much is it? Or am I saying it’s not much because I was drinking more than that.  Perhaps if you are reading this, you don’t drink at all, or just very rarely.  Maybe you are reading this because you consider yourself to drink too much.  So back to me again and an ashamed admission.  I reckon I must have been drinking AT LEAST 70 units A WEEK, that’s almost five times the recommended amount.  That’s bad isn’t it? I hope to God that I haven’t done myself any lasting damage.

Please don’t judge me for being so open about this, please don’t think that because I drank that much that I’m some kind of ‘waster’ who lazed around all day doing nothing apart from drinking.  I’m a hard working Mum with a good job, a nice home and I’m civilised and respectful – no doubt like most people who drink too  much alcohol.  You see it is something that can just become a habit and then just get a little bit out of control.  I know I have said this in a previous post but I think it’s considered fairly normal, for some, to have a glass of wine when you get home from work, or while you’re cooking dinner, or eating dinner, or watching TV.  The trouble is it is very easy to finish that glass and have another.  It is easier then to have another during the evening and before you know it the bottle has gone.  A bottle over the course of perhaps four hours.  That doesn’t sound so bad does it?  But when it becomes a regular occurrence and you are exceeding your recommended allowance by quite a bit, then I guess it is bad.

Anyway I decided to give it up in January and it was really really hard.  Thankfully I managed with the support of people online and using an app to track my progress.  I chose to drink out of a wine glass at the weekends so I still felt like I was having a treat and I’m on day 144 now!  Sparkling water is my friend, I love it – it’s so refreshing and I can jazz it up with different cordials if I want to!

It has been difficult and the temptation is sometimes there to just have one drink to be sociable or whatever.  However I’m kind of scared to because I would be too worried that I’d like the taste or the feeling and then want to get back to drinking every night again.  So for that reason it is easier to just say no.

It is socially expected though that people drink.  I have told my family and a couple of friends that I’m just not that bothered about drinking anymore.  I haven’t told them the reason why because I’m quite embarrassed. Even when we went out for a meal on my birthday, my sister was umming and arring about getting a taxi so she could have a drink but then then was really shocked I wasn’t having one!  I had to work really hard at justifying why I didn’t want to without actually going into intricate details.  My Mum wanted to order us a bottle of wine to share and was disappointed that I didn’t want any because it was my birthday, so I felt guilty for not drinking.  I know next time I go out for a meal with friends they will all be drinking loads of wine and will expect me to so I will drive so I have an excuse.  I think it’s going to be an ongoing battle but I fully hope that I can stay strong and stick with it.

Since stopping drinking I feel so much better, I’m not sure I look any better yet but inside I feel calmer, less bloated, clear headed and much less tired. I have the sleep pattern of a normal person now which must benefit me no end!

I managed to stop without attending meetings or anything but that’s just me,  one of the reasons for this is that I work in the public sector and would have been mortified if I came across anyone to do with my work in a meeting.  That’s daft really because if they were in a meeting it would mean they had a problem too!

If you do feel like your drinking is out of control there are support groups who can help you.  Also you need to know that if you are drinking far much more  than you should do, it is actually dangerous to just stop, so you should seek the advice of your doctor. I didn’t, but maybe I should have… This following information is again from the NHS website.

Useful contacts for alcohol problems
Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s drinking, you can call this free helpline in complete confidence. Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a free self-help group. Its “12-step” programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups.
Al-Anon Family Groups offers support and understanding to the families and friends of problem drinkers, whether they’re still drinking or not. Alateen is part of Al-Anon and can be attended by 12- to 17-year-olds who are affected by another person’s drinking, usually a parent.
Addaction is a UK-wide treatment agency that helps individuals, families and communities manage the effects of drug and alcohol misuse.
Adfam is a national charity working with families affected by drugs and alcohol. Adfam operates an online message board and a database of local support groups.
The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa)provides a free, confidential telephone and email helpline for children of alcohol-dependent parents and others concerned about their welfare. Call 0800 358 3456 for the Nacoa helpline.
SMART Recovery groups help participants decide whether they have a problem, build up their motivation to change, and offer a set of proven tools and techniques to support recovery.

If you click Here it is the original page with links to the different organisations.  Please don’t think I’m being preachy and trying to make the whole world give up alcohol, I just want you to know that I’ve been there, drinking too much as a social habit, but I have managed to stop.  If I can stop then you can too.

If you have any questions, I’d be more than happy to try and answer them.  Please do so via the comments below, or alternatively you can contact me via the contact link in the main menu at the top of the page.

Thanks for reading!

 

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10 comments

  1. Great job! Excellent post, especially the unit info. It is scary how little you can have before it’s a problem. I’d say I was the opposite problem type. I drink maybe once or twice a year tops. I drank on St Patrick’s Day and haven’t drank since – and the last time before that was May 2015! However – I had 6 cocktails so that was probably a week and a half’s allowance in one night! It will probably be Christmas before I drink again if then. Just because it’s very infrequent doesn’t make it good either even though I rarely have more than 1-2 cocktails because that could be a weeks worth almost right there too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As an early twenty something I drank like a fish! But as I’ve aged (was going to say grown up, but I think that’s pushing it!) I seem to have gone off the taste of alcohol, especially wine. However, I’ve recently discovered Gin and that’s a whole other story! Great post, very informative!

    Like

    1. Thanks Michelle, I wish I didn’t like wine!! It’s funny you saying about the gin because that’s so popular at the moment, I know loads of people who love it! My memory of gin is being round a friends when I was about fourteen and she poured some gin into some cans of coke. I took a sip and just got neat gin that was pooled around the rim 😖 I think that put me off for life!!

      Like

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