Alcohol and honesty

While many men drink alcohol in moderation or not at all, many of us drink too much. Despite recent news that women are now almost matching men in alcohol consumption globally, that’s almost entirely due to women drinking more, not men drinking less.  And men still consume more than women.

A curious development reported over the last few years has been the emergence of studies which show the risk of harmful drinking higher among middle class adults over 50 in the UK. To be clear, many people from all backgrounds can drink too much, but this trend has shown that even with continual availability of alcohol information, some people are throwing caution to the wind in later life.

We might not want to recognise or talk about it.  Equally, many men see drinking as a crucial part of a relaxing and fun lifestyle, and see the health costs as worth paying.  It is your life and your choice – and we’re not here to preach if you have understood the risks, and accepted the potential impact on others as well as yourself.  But given the health risks, it’s important that we are all knowledgeable about the long-term health impacts of alcohol so we can at least make informed decisions.

For guys who would like to know more, here are the facts.  You can develop a whole range of serious illness after 10 to 20 years of regularly drinking more than 14 units a week, including:

(Source: NHS Live well)

That’s aside from any immediate effects many of us will be familiar with the morning after!

So, if you’re looking to better manage or cut down the amount of alcohol you consume, here are some useful tips, drawn from Drinkwise  and NHS Live well:

  • Know how much you are drinking. Counting up the units you consume in a week can help you either see a need to cut down, or reassure yourself that you are drinking in moderation.  Drinkwise have a simple unit calculator you can use based on standard drinks.
  • Have several alcohol-free days a week
  • Go for a smaller drink – such as a smaller glass of wine or a bottled beer rather than a pint
  • Choose a lower-strength drink, such as a low-alcohol beer or wine (ABV in %, shown on the bottle)
  • Stay hydrated, by drinking water before and inbetween alcoholic drinks
  • If you are concerned about your drinking overall, make a plan on how you are going to limit your drinking, and ask your friends and family to help support you to stick with it.

Drinking in moderation can have a range of short- and long-term health benefits, so it is worth all of us taking an honest look at the amount we drink and seeing how we may be able to cut down.  If you’re interested in more information or support in how to cut down, in addition to the links above you can check out Alcohol Concern’s information here.