alcohol awareness

Let’s talk about alcohol! Posted by Justine Clarabut on 17 October, 2019

It’s Alcohol Awareness Week on 11th to 17th November this year and is a great opportunity and reason for us all to think and talk about alcohol! For hundreds of years, alcohol has been a central part of social life – creating a relaxed mood, increased feelings of happiness and desire to have fun!

Unfortunately though, many people don’t realise the damaging effects that drinking too much alcohol can have. The NHS recommended guidelines are based around how many units of alcohol are in one drink. However, not all alcoholic beverages are created equally with the alcohol concentration ranging from 5% in beers to 30-40% in spirits! Many people are not aware of unit quantities; it can be a guessing game and many of us are most probably guilty of ‘under estimating’ rather than over! The latest guidelines now suggest that for both men and women, a weekly limit of 14 units of alcohol is presumed a safe amount. This is equivalent to 6 pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.   More than this could damage your health!

So what are the risks of drinking over the recommended amount of alcohol per week?

Having the odd glass of wine or beer with your meal does not necessarily pose a risk to your health but drinking regularly over the recommended guidelines may well have a damaging impact on your body; it increases the risks of cancers of the mouth, throat and breast, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, brain damage and damage to the nervous system. Heavy drinking is also linked to many other health conditions including affecting the immune system making it harder for the body to fight off infections.

Productivity and alcohol

Drinking regularly or being dependent on alcohol will in most cases affect the ability to perform well at work. Drinking too much alcohol affects quality of sleep. Therefore, it will inevitably decrease energy levels and in turn will lower fitness levels. Regular use of alcohol also leads to an impaired memory, poor coordination and slowed reaction times. Notwithstanding, the impact on how people think, feel and their relationships with colleagues, family members and friends.

So what can we do to raise alcohol awareness in the workplace?

We spend most of our waking hours at work, so it is a great place to raise the subject and talk about the detrimental effects that alcohol can have on our health, performance and productivity.

Dry January is endorsed by Public Health England. It is a game changer for many people as it can help to make behavioural changes. Research has shown that it can help people to re-set their drinking patterns and helps them to drink more healthily throughout the year! Promoting dry January by encouraging employees to sign up to the Alcohol Change UK official campaign is a great way to raise alcohol awareness and encourage healthier drinking habits!

Wellbeing workshops, sharing stories, and supporting mental health issues are just a few ways that workplaces can be proactive in raising alcohol awareness. Throughout the year, wellbeing events will help to educate and and change our mindsets and behaviour around alcohol but also, our complete health and wellbeing. Quite often a dependency or addiction may have been caused due to an unhealthy lifestyle or poor mental health.

Hydration is also vital in the workplace. Making sure employees have easy access to water is essential for our general health. Dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue, a build up of toxins in the body and much more. Posters, flyers, hydration challenges are all great ways to promote the importance of hydration. Alcohol consumption has a severely dehydrating effect on the body, so encouraging people to drinking plenty of water before, during and after alcohol consumption will help with its negative effects.

Check how healthy your drinking is with this quick quiz

 

References and further reading:

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/the-risks-of-drinking-too-much/
https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/mental-health/alcoholism/