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Understanding Alcohol Harm

This week is Alcohol Awareness week and the theme is ‘Understanding Alcohol Harm’. 

What is Alcoholism?

“Alcoholism is an addiction to consuming alcohol and the inability to manage how much of it you are having. Alcoholism is the dependency of alcohol with feelings that you can not manage without it and will often put it above everything else in your life”

Alcohol is a huge part of our lives. We use it for celebration, for comfort, to socialise, to wind down, to cope. We treat it differently to other drugs; it’s legal and socially encouraged and accepted. Yet in the UK one person every hour dies, as a result of alcohol. Alcohol harm – mental health problems, liver disease, one of seven forms of cancer, economic difficulties, and so much more – can affect any one of us, from any walk of life.

The harm doesn’t end with the individual; each of us who drinks too much is part of a family and a community who feel the effects too, whether through frequent use of emergency services, drink driving, violence or neglect.

Short term effects include:

  • Changes in behaviour such as taking unnecessary and unsafe risks

  • Memory loss

  • Physical changes such as vomiting

  • Slower thinking and slower reflexes

  • Increases anxiety

Longer term effects include: 

  • Alcohol effects all our physical organs

  • Changes to personal situations, financial, relationship and career difficulties

Alcohol Myths

  • Alcohol helps us sleep

  • Alcohol harm only affects heavy drinkers

  • I'm healthy and active so alcohol won't impact me

  • Alcoholics drink every day

  • People with Alcohol problems only have themselves to blame

  • Alcohol is a stimulant drug

  • I can drink and still be in control

  • Beer doesn’t have as much alcohol as hard liquor

Tips for cutting down

  • Try a few days without drinking

  • Think of your alcohol intake in units instead 

  • Set yourself a limit

  • Try non alcoholic or lower alcohol alternatives

  • Eat before your drink

  • Say "no"

Services and helplines


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