A Partnership For Your Health At Work.
More than 9 million people in the UK drink more than recommended and the UK has one of the highest rates of binge drinking in Europe (binge drinking is when five or more drinks are consumed within one to two hours). So how much is too much, what are the effects and what can we do to cut down?
For those of us who enjoy a drink, the challenge is to find a healthy and enjoyable drinking pattern that allows us to enjoy the positive benefits, whilst avoiding the potentially harmful effects. Most people manage to achieve this reasonably well, but a growing number of us consume far too much alcohol and, as a society, we are paying an increasingly heavy price for the privilege.
When we drink, alcohol passes virtually unchanged from the mouth into the stomach. About 20% is immediately absorbed into the blood stream through the stomach wall. The remaining 80% passes into the small gut where it is absorbed into the blood stream.
Alcohol is carried to your liver as well as other organs of the body. The liver cannot store the alcohol and breaks it down into water, gas and fat. As the liver processes this alcohol it produces a toxin or poison called acetaldehyde. This is what causes a hangover.
Why is it that some people can handle their drink better than others? Or sometimes we feel worse than other times after drinking? There are many factors that affect our reaction to alcohol including;
Most of us know the symptoms of drinking too much alcohol – slurred speech, impaired judgement, blurred vision, difficulty with balance and slower reaction times amongst other things. However, if someone drinks too much alcohol, especially if it is drunk very quickly they can get alcohol poisoning.
Alcohol, as well as being a drug, is a poison and can have lethal consequences. Your body can only process one unit of alcohol an hour. So binge drinking can cause alcohol poisoning.
Symptom of alcohol poisoning may include;
So what should you do if someone has alcohol poisoning?
What shouldn’t you do?
The liver breaks the alcohol down into water, gas and fat. This fat can over time cause a “fatty liver”. If you continue to drink you have a one in three chance of getting alcoholic hepatitis. This can lead on to cirrhosis of the liver which is irreversible.
Alcohol consumption can be a factor in many other medical conditions, including;
Alcohol is measured in units. Manufacturers put the number of alcohol units on bottles and cans. Mixed drinks can be harder to keep track of.
Unit guidelines are now the same for men and women. The current recommended unit intake is: no more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. That means drinking no more than:
It is worth bearing in mind that in some pubs, bars or restaurants, glasses of wine may be larger than this (some serve 250ml) and spirits may be larger servings (some serve 30ml or serve a double measure).
Some ways to cut back on your drinking include;
Many organisations now perform drug and alcohol screening as part of their drug and alcohol policies. This can be done on a random basis to check members of staff do not have any alcohol or drugs in their system whilst at work. It is important to remember how long alcohol can take to leave your system – some people are unaware of the fact they may still have alcohol in their bloodstream the morning after drinking. Find out more about our drug and alcohol screening.