Done Dry January? Take more days off in February

THE trust is backing a campaign to encourage drinkers in the North East to take more days off alcohol – as a worrying survey found 6/10 people who responded admitting to feeling tempted to pour a drink most nights.

Balance is supporting a new campaign from Public Health England encouraging people to take at least 2 or 3 days off drinking every week as a way of cutting down to 14 units or under and reducing the risks of an alcohol related disease.

People are being encouraged to visit the website to download the One You Days Off app to help them cut down, feel healthier, lose weight and save money.

The results of an online survey by Balance revealed that:

  • 60% (5,566 respondents) said they find themselves tempted to pour a drink most nights.
  • 44% (3,714 respondents) admitted that a friend or family member has suggested they might be drinking too much.
  • 48% (4,213 respondents) admitted their behaviour changes after a drink.
  • 71% (5,958 respondents) admitted they find that one drink just isn’t enough.

Clare Henry, the trust’s Specialist Alcohol and Tobacco Adviser, said: “I’d encourage people to use the One You Days Off app which can support people to reduce their alcohol intake and lower risks to their health by taking more days off alcohol. It offers practical support to making positive steps to achieving a healthy lifestyle.”

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “Clearly many people are conscious of the relationship they have with alcohol, from finding drinking is becoming a daily habit and their behaviour changing after a few drinks, to friends or loved ones voicing concern.

“Having a drink or two most evenings increases anyone’s risk of exceeding the weekly low risk guidelines and that increases the risk of some types of cancer and other health problems. Taking more days off is a good way to cut down and break that daily habit.

“For anyone who has ever done Dry January and felt a lot better, having more alcohol free days is a good way to keep those good intentions going.”

Bev Oliver, Health and Wellbeing Programme Lead at Public Health England North East, said: “It can be easy to fall into the habit of drinking regularly and the occasional glass in the evening can quickly become 2 or 3 glasses most days. The more you drink, and the more often, the greater the risk to your health but there are easy ways to cut back.

“It is important to know how much you are drinking. Taking at least two or three days off a week can help reduce the health risks, as well as helping you save money, lose weight and sleep better without cutting it out completely.”

The Chief Medical Officers’ guideline for both men and women is that people are safest not to drink regularly more than 14 units per week, to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level. For people drinking 14 units per week, it is best to spread this evenly over 3 days or more. A good way to reduce weekly alcohol intake is to have several drink-free days each week.

Balance is also re-launching its Can’t See It campaign highlighting that alcohol increases the risk of seven types of cancer as a clear reason to reduce weekly unit levels.

Data shows enough alcohol is being sold in the North East for drinkers to consume 22.3 units per week on average compared to the Chief Medical Officer’s guidance of no more than 14 units.

What is 14 units and why do the guidelines suggest no more than 14 units?

Fourteen units of alcohol is equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or 6 six medium glasses of wine. However – just one pint of strong lager or a large glass of wine can contain more than three units of alcohol.

The risk of developing a range of illnesses (including, for example, cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) increases with any amount you drink on a regular basis. There is now a better understanding of the link between drinking and some illnesses, including a range of cancers.

The previously held position that some level of alcohol was good for the heart has also been revised – the new guidance states the benefits for heart health of drinking alcohol are less and apply to a smaller group of the population than previously thought.

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