Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Dependency

The government recommends that we only drink one or two alcoholic beverages per day at most. This does not mean if you do not drink during the week that binging on the weekend is acceptable. Far from it, this is damaging behavior that places a heavy burden on the body.Every year, the government tries harder to help us improve our lifestyle. They proffer recommendations as to what we should - and should not - be doing but it can become confusing at times. One of the most difficult things we’ve had to come to grips with in recent years is our alcohol consumption.


The government has advised that we should not ‘regularly’ drink more than our daily allowance of units. Men should drink no more than three to four units a day - which equates to a pint and a half of 4% beer - and women should drink no more than two to three units a day, equivalent to a 175ml glass of wine. The word ‘regularly’ means we should drink no more than this if we are drinking every day, or most days of the week.

If we do not drink every day, or most days of the week, and instead only drink alcohol at the weekend, this does not mean that we should save all of those units for one evening. This is known as binge drinking, or alcohol abuse.

Alcohol abuse is defined as any ‘harmful’ use of alcohol. This kind of harmful use has potential physical or mental side affects, and may cause recurrent problems socially, legally and interpersonally. Indeed, alcohol is (on average) involved in one in three sexual offences and burglaries, and one in two street crimes.

Those with an alcohol dependency meet all of the above criteria, but they will also exhibit other symptoms. They will usually narrow the type or brand of alcohol they consume, and avoid social situations that do not involve alcohol consumption. They may have to increase the amount they drink in order to achieve drunkenness, and withdrawal symptoms will become apparent if they stop. They may also use alcohol as a means to cure a hangover or its side effects, such as uncontrollable shaking.

The most important thing is to know the differences and the signs to look for. Thankfully, binge drinkers can be helped: there are educational workshops designed to show the dangers, and if you’re worried about your own alcohol intake you can always contact your GP for advice. An alcohol dependency requires that a person be removed from their ‘triggers’, and alcohol addiction treatment, such as that offered by Life Works, combines this with a comprehensive medical approach.

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