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Introduction

Many people are able to stick to the recommended levels of alcohol consumption so that drinking does not pose a threat to their health.

However, for some people, the amount of alcohol they drink means that they face a real risk of developing alcohol-related problems. These problems may be:

    • physical - such as heart disease
    • psychological - such as depression
    • social - such as committing domestic abuse or acts of violence

Signs and symptoms

Signs that you may be misusing alcohol include:

    • you have felt that you should cut down on your drinking
    • other people have annoyed you by criticising your drinking
    • you have felt guilty or bad about your drinking
    • you have needed a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover

Signs that someone you know may be misusing alcohol include:

    • they regularly exceed the recommended daily amount for alcohol
    • they have been unable to remember what happened the night before as a result of their drinking
    • they have failed to do what was expected of them because of their drinking - for example, missing an appointment because they were drunk or hungover

Treatment

Treatments that can help include:

    • counselling
    • medication, which can help to reduce cravings for alcohol
    • self-help groups - where people with alcohol misuse problems share their experiences with each other in a supportive environment

How can I get help?

If you are concerned about your level of drinking, or someone else’s talk to your GP or contact your local NHS service. Information about the services available in your area can be found in the right hand menu.

More information and support

Cut down on alcohol with the Change4Life Drinks Tracker

A range of resources to encourage people to cut back on their drinking is now available as part of the nationwide Change4Life campaign. They include a new smartphone app and online drinks tracker. The checker is an easy-to-use tool, which allows users to see how many units and calories they are consuming and how much cash their drinking is costing them. It also provides broad risk assessments, advice and tips for cutting down.

To find out more about the tracker, visit www.nhs.uk/Change4Life/Pages/understanding-alcohol.aspx

For more information about alcoholism visit NHS Choices

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