Alcohol and Substance Misuse

A healthy, balanced diet is important and, as part of a healthy lifestyle, it’s worthwhile knowing and keeping within the lower-risk drinking guidelines. This can help us avoid the negative health effects associated with excess drinking and decrease our risk of serious, long term harm.

Current statistics suggest 43% of adults drink above the guidelines in Wrexham (Welsh Health Survey 2011) and, with consumption increasing steadily over the past decade, deaths and disease linked to excess drinking are on the rise. Alcohol related chronic disease is costing the NHS in Wales £70-£85million each year.

How alcohol can negatively affect your health and wellbeing…

Regardless of age, problem use of alcohol can cause serious social, psychological and health problems, affecting work, social and personal relationships. These include: liver disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, reduced fertility, depression, anxiety and unwanted weight gain

Its important to remember ‘binge drinking’, a phrase used to describe drinking too much alcohol over a short period of time, is a risk to health and can sometimes result in intentional / unintentional injuries, unplanned and unprotected sexual activity and other risky behaviours.

Units of alcohol in popular drinks…

330ml bottle of strong lager, beer or cider (ABV 5.2%) = 2.7units
One pint of strong lager, beer or cider (ABV 5.2%) = 3 units

One small (125ml) glass of wine (ABV 13%) = 1.6units
One standard (175ml) glass of wine (ABV 13%) = 2.3units
One large (250ml) glass of wine (ABV 13%) = 3.3units
750ml bottle of wine (13%) 9.8 units

A small pub measure (25ml) of spirits (40% ABV) = 1 unit
275ml bottle of alcopop (ABV5.5%) = 1.5 units
50ml glass of liqueur (ABV 20%) = 1.5 units
ABV (alcohol by volume) is the percentage of alcohol in the drink
(Source Change4Life and British Dietetic Association)

How to monitor your drinking habits
If you want to become more aware of your drinking habits, why not complete a ‘drink diary’.

Drink Diary – PDF format 422Kb
If you find you are drinking above the recommended guidelines and want to lower your intake why not…

Try having a smaller drink
Choose a lower strength drink
Choose a drink with a mixer (helping your drink to last longer)
Choose more soft drinks / drink more water
Have a cup of tea or coffee!
(Source Change4Life)

The Change4Life Campaign provides useful advice on the benefits of cutting down, information on alcohol and pregnancy, and how alcohol interacts with medication visit www.chang4lifewales.org.uk

Substance Misuse

The term Substance Misuse is used to describe the use of illegal drugs or the use of prescribed or over the counter medication, which are being taken at doses higher than what has been recommended by a doctor or pharmacist.

A drug is a chemical substance that acts on the brain and nervous system, changing a person’s mood, emotion or state of consciousness.

Drugs are often classified by the effect they have.

Stimulants, such as cocaine, make people feel full of energy
Depressants (or sedatives) such as heroin, make people feel relaxed
Hallucinogens, such as LSD, make people see, feel or hear things that are not real
One of the biggest risk of substance misuse is that you can develop an addiction. There are two main types of addiction:

Physical addiction: when there are withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting or cramping, if the supply of the drug is suddenly withdrawn

Psychological addiction: when there is a psychological compulsion or need to regularly use a drug. If the drug is withdrawn, there are no physical symptoms but there may be psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety and irritability.

For help and advice contact the Wales Drug and Alcohol helpline on 0800 633 5588, this is a 24 hour 7 days a week helpline.