This year’s Alcohol Awareness Week (18 – 24 October) has a strong focus on childhood and youth drinking. It aims to not only raise awareness of health problems and issues associated with alcohol but considers how young drinkers should have access to support, advice and referral to specialist alcohol services.
Many of us like to enjoy an alcoholic beverage from time to depending on the occasion however, drinking excessively is bad for your health and can be embarrassing for people close to you. In addition adults who drink in front of children are posing serious risks to a child’s health and in some cases, encourage raised levels of child neglect within the home environment.
According to the World Health Organisation, alcohol is the third biggest killer in developed countries behind tobacco and having high blood pressure, so the next time you embark on drinking more than the recommended alcohol units, try to consider your long-term health first.
Did you know that drinking excess alcohol can cause:
Having plump cheeks and a healthy glow are associated with youth and maintaining a good lifestyle. Alcohol is a diuretic which means you need to urinate more than necessary therefore, can lead to dehydration and tired looking skin and premature ageing.
Always a sensitive subject but temporary halitosis (or bad breath) can be a thing of the past if you want it to be. The causes can be: Excess Alcohol + Dehydration (dry mouth) + Bacteria = Bad Breath.
Memory loss and brain damage
Alcohol abuse can cause blackouts and impair memory which is why people sometimes have no recollection of certain events, faces, names or basic information. Not only is this putting yourself in danger but it causes concern amongst people around you.
Overindulgence of alcohol plays a part in many health issues but did you realise this is a common cause of indigestion. This happens when alcohol irritates the stomach lining however, this can be avoided if alcohol is drunk in moderation, not excess. Instead of being on auto pilot and looking for that quick medicinal fix i.e. antacids, drinking less will prevent indigestion in the first place.
Drinking too much alcohol puts a great amount of strain and stress on our bodies but have you ever considered how much stress is put on those closest to you following excessive drinking? If arguments, erratic behaviour and being negligent are caused by too much alcohol, consider how this impacts on the general wellbeing of your children and other people living with you.
Many would admit to enjoying a tipple but did you know consuming one drink too many, too often, can lead to temporary impotence and a lowered sex-drive.
Spontaneous Abortion (miscarriage)
1 in 6 of all miscarriages are due to excess drinking. If you are trying for a baby, reduce your drinking to a minimum amount or stop all together.
Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of developing cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus (food pipe), voice box, breast, bowel and liver. When you take these into consideration, is it really work the risk when drinking to excess.
Many of us like to let our hair down by enjoying the odd drink but for thousands of young people the aim of a night out is to get drunk. No one is telling you not to drink but those mind blowing hangovers can be avoided if you drink in moderation.
A bigger issue is realising you have had unprotected sex whilst drunk which could leave you feeling hurt, angry, isolated or regretful. If you are concerned about STIs'/ pregnancy visit the RU Clear website .
In Greater Manchester 5 out of the 10 boroughs were in the highest percentage of alcohol misuse in the whole of England.
In a survey carried out by Trading Standards in 2009 of 13,500 teenagers aged 14 – 17 years old, results showed 13.5% of the young people were drinking alcohol more than twice a week.
For every 1,000 young people, 122 people were admitted to hospital under the age of 18 in 2007.
The North West
The number of teenagers drinking alcohol at least once a week has dropped from 50% in 2005 to 38% in 2009
1 in 4 teenagers who do drink alcohol consume more than 20 units per week
1 in 4 teenagers surveyed regularly binge drink (consuming five drinks at least once a week)
1 in 20 typically drink alone
1 in 6 regretted having sex after drinking
1 in 2 teenagers drink to get drunk
Some parents might be unaware of how their alcohol habits can impact on children/ young people which in turn, can cause psychologically damage in later life.
Parents that drink to excess can impact on family life, especially if children are forced into a caring role which hinders their education and social development.
Children and young people can also become afraid if their parent or adult carer is drunk and acts in a threatening manner. Nobody likes to see a scared child or be the cause of their suffering so if we drink, we should try to protect children from hidden harms.
Don’t forget children are copycats. So if they see you reaching for that wine, beer or spirit bottle a few times a week, who is to say they won’t adopt the same habit in adulthood. You never know who is watching so remember, drink sensibly and help your child develop a healthy attitude to drinking!
According to national statistics
Alcohol is a factor in 40% of domestic violence cases, 40% of child protection cases, and 74% of child mistreatment cases
27% of young male and 15% of young female deaths were caused by alcohol
A 'unit' is 10ml of pure alcohol, here’s what we’re drinking regularly:
750ml bottle of wine at 12% is 9 units
440ml can of super strength larger is 4 units
1 litre bottle of 40% spirits is 40 units
700ml bottle of spirits of 37.5% spirits is 26.1/4 units
2 litre bottle of cider at 5.5% is 11 units
To drink safely and stay healthy the NHS recommends a daily allowance of:
No more than three to four units for male adults
No more than two to three units for female adults
You should have at least 2 alcohol-free days per week.
To calculate how many units of alcohol you drink click here.
This week, 18 - 24 October, we are running a campaign with Key 103 to raise awareness of the effects of alcohol on young people.
For your chance to win a 12-month gym membership, an iPod Nano and other great prizes, you can complete our short survey by clicking here.
BEN (not his real name) is 16 and an A-level student from Tameside.
He was drinking up to three bottles of wine a night, but after seeking help from drugs and alcohol project, Branching Out, he has turned his life around.
"I drank bottles of vodka, whisky, shots – you name it, I would drink it. I first started drinking when I was 12. I used to spend all my money on alcohol. We got served by asking a homeless person to buy it for us, then we would give them some of the booze. I had no daily routine, no organisational skills, no willpower to do anything apart from go out. I was often hungover. I would often hurt myself while drunk. I got over the stage of being sick, because I was drinking so often.
"The effects were more psychological than physical – I was often depressed. It was all associated with alcohol, because now I’ve stopped I don’t feel like that at all. I would take drink in a bag with me to school. Sometimes I would drink in school, everybody drank. I live on my own so I had to take care of myself. I had issues with myself, whether I was normal. But I couldn’t be bothered to try to work out the answers – I just wanted to push it away."
A counsellor visited the school and discussed the services that Ben could get access to. At the time, he was sitting his GCSEs and didn’t want to end up repeating the year.
"At the first meeting I had with Louise, we worked out how much alcohol I drank every week, how to cut down, and why I did it. I was drinking around three or four times as much as I should have been every day. A bottle of wine is more than enough to drink in one night, but I was sometimes drinking three and getting totally wasted.
"We agreed I would stick to certain kinds of drinks and pace myself. I would come back every week and tell her how it went. If it went all right, I would go to the next stage. It was all about awareness.
"Now I drink maybe a pint once a month. I don’t have to get totally wasted. Drink is no longer my friend; I don’t have to drink to make myself happy.
"Adults don’t know half of what kids drink or where they get it from. They think if they don’t give us the money we won’t get it, but we end up finding some way. It is not cool. It is probably cooler to say, ‘Let’s not get drunk any more’, rather than, ‘Let’s get wasted’.
"I was on a slow path to ruining my life. I would have had serious problems if I hadn’t got help. But now I feel fitter, and more mentally healthy.I feel I can face the future."
Read more about alcohol and young people in October's I Love Me supplement. (PDF 1.9MB)
Alcohol related problems can make us feel isolated and frightened. One important thing to remember is that you are never alone and can receive confidential and impartial advice from a specialist alcohol advisor.
You can also receive alternative help from a counseling service, Community Alcohol Teams (CAT), and self-help groups. If you have any alcohol related concerns and would like to know how you can reduce your alcohol intake or that of someone close to you, visit the following websites:
NHS Live Well