Alcohol drinking myths debunked by Weston charity in health campaign

PUBLISHED: 10:36 11 August 2018

Adrian Riley.

Adrian Riley.

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Addaction is warning people of the dangers of harmful drinking due to the increasing number of people over 50 consuming excess amounts of alcohol.

Addaction.Addaction.

The drug and alcohol charity, which is based in Weston, launched its campaign last week to highlight the support available for people who need help breaking the habit.

The campaign has been launched after figures revealed almost a third of men in North Somerset drink more than the recommended daily allowance.

This leaves people more at risk from a number of health issues including falls, cancer and mental health issues.

Adrian Riley, a team leader at Addaction North Somerset, has been working as a counsellor and trainer for the past 18 years. He said: “Over that time the people I have seen coming through our doors for help with their alcohol problem has changed.

Addaction runs support groups to help people cut down on their alcohol consumption.Addaction runs support groups to help people cut down on their alcohol consumption.

“We now see far more professionals than we used to, this trend is one that is familiar across the UK, where drinking patterns have also changed.

“Recent research showed 77 per cent of the highest earners report drinking in the past week, compared to less than 45 per cent of the lowest earners.

“It’s clear the modern demands of a career, stress and the increasing pressures on cutting professional services, have meant more people are turning to alcohol to unwind.

“We have also seen an increasing number of older clients coming in to make changes around their alcohol use.

Addaction runs support groups to help people cut down on their alcohol consumption.Addaction runs support groups to help people cut down on their alcohol consumption.

“Last year, the over 50s divorce rate increased the most, leaving some to use alcohol to cope with break-ups. Here at Addaction, we offer tailored support to each person who visits us whether you are a doctor, lawyer, unemployed or a homemaker.”

The charity is keen to debunk a number of myths associated with alcohol:

n Alcohol is not good for stress – Many people reach for a drink to reduce their stress. Drinking in moderation may help you relax or feel more sociable. However, daily drinking, even in moderation, can become a habit and have harmful long-term effects, particularly as we age.

n Alcohol does not help you sleep – it may feel like you’ve fallen asleep faster, but even a couple of drinks can interfere with the normal sleep process, disrupting that all important deep sleep our bodies need to restore. You are more likely to wake up feeling exhausted or, worse, wake in the middle of the night with your mind racing.

Addaction runs support groups to help people cut down on their alcohol consumption.Addaction runs support groups to help people cut down on their alcohol consumption.

n Alcohol does not keep you warm – Alcohol makes blood rise to the surface. Your brain then interprets and signals this to you as heat. As a result, this means you might not be able to feel the cold and this can put you at risk of hypothermia if you are outside or struggling to heat your home during winter.

n Tolerance decreases with age – Many think you can drink more as you age, but the reverse is true. The amount we can drink before it affects us generally decreases as we age due to having less body fluid and more body fat. We are likely to feel the effects of alcohol more strongly and for longer.

n Alcohol affects men and women differently – at all ages women are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol, and this difference may be more marked for older women. On average, women have smaller bodies, a higher percentage of body fat and consequently they break down alcohol more slowly than men.

n It is never too late to change – You might be surprised to hear that as people age they are more likely to make positive changes. In fact, older adults who have problems with alcohol, and who seek help, do better than any other age group at making positive changes to their drinking behaviour.

Adrian Riley.Adrian Riley.

n If I get support, do I have to give up alcohol altogether? – No, you do not. It is just important that you’re able to make informed choices about how much you drink. Ask yourself if it is having a negative impact on your relationships, your health and wellbeing, and your quality of life. If the answer is yes, you might want to start making some healthier choices.

Anyone worried about their own or someone else’s alcohol use, can use the free web chat option at www.addaction.org.uk or call the charity on 01934 427940.

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