Think about how much alcohol you’re drinking

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IT’S EASY to lose track of how much you’re drinking - whether that’s a glass after work, one with dinner, another while watching TV or catching up with friends - it all adds up.

As part of a Scottish Government campaign launched earlier this month, people are being encouraged to think about how much alcohol they drink and consider cutting down.Many people aren’t aware of what the sensible drinking guidelines are. In reality, they are lower than most of us realise - women shouldn’t regularly drink more than two to three units of alcohol per day - that’s the same as one large glass of wine.

Latest figures show that around 50 per cent of men and 40 per cent of women exceed the sensible drinking guidelines in a typical week. There has also been a significant shift in drinking habits in Scotland over recent years with more people choosing to drink at home. Generous home measures and frequent top-ups mean that people are often unaware of just how many units they are consuming at any one time.

Regularly drinking over the sensible guidelines can not only affect appearance and general health, it can also disrupt sleep and lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure, chronic liver disease and breast cancer.

Worryingly, in the past 20 years there has been a threefold increase in chronic liver disease hospital discharge rates among women. It has also been reported that the risk of breast cancer increases by drinking as little as one to two units per day.

Alcohol Focus Scotland chief executive Evelyn Gillan said: “This campaign comes at just the right time and will hopefully encourage people to drink less. If we drink less we will start to reduce the significant burden that alcohol is placing on the nation’s health and well-being.

“The simple truth is we are drinking more than is good for us and we are paying the price in lost lives, lost productivity and damage to families and communities. I hope this campaign kick starts a collective commitment to drink less and do more”.

Charmain, 30, is a self-employed hairdresser. More often than not she works late into the evening to fit in with her customer’s working hours. So, she likes to unwind with a glass of wine or two when she gets home.

“I do tend to work quite long and late hours. It’s so I can make my customer’s lives easier by cutting their hair when they have finished work.

“This means that most nights during the week, I don’t get home until after 9 p.m. I end up feeling like I’ve been on the go and on my feet for most of the day. So, by the time I’m finishing with my last customer, I can’t wait to get back home, pour myself a large glass of wine and sit down in front of the telly.

“I always end up having more than just one – sometimes I’ll even finish the bottle. I work hard so I enjoy having a glass when I get home on a night.

“All of my friends are the same - we’re getting older so prefer catching up at one of our houses, not hitting the town. It’s also a lot dearer to go out these days, so when we do have a drink, we’re more than happy to go round to each other’s houses.

“My parents always make comments about the empty bottles lined up, ready for recycling when they come around. They keep saying that they hope I’m not drinking too much! I tell them that the bottles just build up after a couple of weeks, especially if I’ve had friends round – it’s just a few drinks here and there, that’s all”.

Tips for responsible drinking:-

1) Remember size isn’t everything. A large glass of white wine can contain three units of alcohol – think about how that adds up over a night if you’re drinking more than one.

2) Set yourself a drinking budget and stick to it. Think about how much you’re going to drink before you go on a night out. One way of making sure you don’t go over this is to take only enough money to buy the drinks you want (and a bit more to get you home safely).

3) Eat before you drink. Eat a good meal before you start drinking, or enjoy some snacks while you drink. This helps to slow down the effect of alcohol on your body.

4) Alternate alcohol with soft drinks or water. It will help you cut down the number of units you consume and avoid a hangover the next day. Drink water regularly whilst you’re out drinking and also when you get home to keep hydrated.

5) Keep the sensible drinking guidelines in mind. The guidelines are lower than you might think – women should not regularly drink more than two to three units per day and men three to four.

6)Have a break. Aim to have at least two alcohol-free days every week to give your body a break.

7) Know your strength. The strength of drinks varies dramatically depending on what you’re drinking. So make sure you know how many units are in your drink, and keep tabs on your intake. A cocktail can contain as many as four units, while a 750ml bottle of table wine (12% vol) totals nine units.

8) Measure your drinks. Use a unit measure cup to keep track of how much you’re pouring at home.

9) Keep a diary. Try keeping a drinking diary, noting how much you drank and where and you’ll get a better idea of your alcohol intake. Sign up now at www.drinksmarter.org <http://www.drinksmarter.org/> 10) Find out more. For more information, tips and tools go to our website www.drinksmarter.org