My name is David Price, I currently work as a project officer in the AHP faculty, prior to this role I worked in Substance Misuse recovery services for nearly 17 years within this time I worked in lots of settings with lots of people with varying degrees of differences over that time.

The Key learning points from my that time is that all people are vulnerable to negative impacts of both Alcohol and drugs.

In this article I would like to focus on Alcohol, both its effects and our relationships with alcohol.

  • It is very easy to fall into a rut and reliance on Alcohol and or other substances, sometimes we can become emotionally and physically reliant on psychoactive substances to help bring relief emotionally to pressures and stress and sometimes as a way of improving how they feel with so many stresses felt in modern life.
  • Individuals can easily fall into emotional and physical dependence on alcohol.
  • People have varying relationships with Alcohol, for variety of circumstances and reasons and levels of use often fluctuate dependent upon many numbers of circumstance’s that are at play at any one time.
  • Having worked with people with differing relationships with alcohol over the years I realised that behaviour change is a process, and it takes time, but any behaviour change normally follows a process of taking stock, taking reflection having internal honest conversation with self about our relationship with Alcohol, and starting to consider the following questions is often helpful in that process. 
  • How much do I drink?
  • what type of alcohol do I drink? Wines, spirits, lagers, beers, liquors, combinations, what type of combinations?
  • What is my history with Alcohol use?
  • What are the Benefits?
  • What is not so good?
  • How does Alcohol affect me? – maybe consider Emotionally, physically, socially, relationally with others?
  • Is there a pattern I notice in relation to my drinking? Do I binge, do I drink every day? Do I drink weekly? Do I have a break?
  • Do I drink in social setting? Do I drink in isolation?
  • Do I rely on alcohol to help manage my mental health, emotional wellbeing, stress, difficulties?
  • What Is my relationship like with Alcohol – healthy, unhealthy, somewhere in between?
  • What are my reasons for drinking – stress relief, I enjoy a drink?
  • Can I write down the Pros and cons of drinking?  - Some included to give you some thought



  • Makes me feel relaxed
  • Money
  • Sociable
  • Health
  • Enjoyment
  • Concentration
  • Relaxation
  • Feeling rough next day
  • Improves my confidence
  • Strain on relationships
  • Helps me manage my emotions
  • Effecting work

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol is the ingredient in these drinks that makes you feel intoxicated as it is a psychoactive substance. The alcohol in drinks is called ethanol (ethyl alcohol). It is made when yeast ferments the sugars in grains, fruits, and vegetables. For example, wine is made from the sugar in grapes and vodka is made from the sugar in potatoes.

What are units of Alcohol

alcohol guidelines.png

Taken from Alcohol Change UK 

What 14 units of Alcohol look like 

alcohol units.png

Taken from Alcohol Change UK 


Tools that can help identify how much you are drinking.  By clicking on the Audit C tool below you will be able to identify your weekly unit intake and guidance will be given dependent upon how much you are drinking what steps you could take next.

Audit C tool

Alcohol is a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions:

  • Alcohol is a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions, including: mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast cancers; high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver; and depression [1].
  • In England in 2019/20, there were 976,425 hospital admissions related to alcohol consumption, a rate 12% higher than in 2016/17 [22].
  • In Wales in 2017/18, there were 54,900 alcohol-related hospital admissions and 14,600 alcohol-specific admissions [17].
  • In Wales the rate of alcohol-specific hospital admissions is 3.3 times higher in the most deprived areas [34].
  • In Scotland in 2019/20, there were around 35,781 alcohol-related hospital admissions [19].
  • In 2020, in the UK, the alcohol-specific death rate was 14 per 100,000 people, an 18.6% increase compared with 2019 and the highest increase since the records began. [37]
  • In 2020 in Scotland, the alcohol-specific death rate was 21.5 per 100,000 population [37].
  • In 2020 in England, the alcohol-specific death rate was 13.0 per 100,000 population [37].
  • In 2020 in Wales, the alcohol-specific death rate was 13.9 per 100,000 population [37].
  • In 2020 in Northern Ireland, the alcohol-specific death rate was 19.6 per 100,000 population [37].
  • In 2020, the alcohol-specific death rate in the UK for males was 19.0 per 100,000 and 9.2 per 100,000 for females [37].
  • In Scotland in 2017, alcohol-related mortality in the 45-74 age group was 8 times higher in the most deprived areas than the least deprived [16].
  • In the UK in 2019, 77% of alcohol-specific deaths were caused by alcoholic liver disease [14].
  • Northern Ireland’s alcohol-specific death rate was 35% higher in 2019 than it was a decade previously, and 18% higher than in 2018 [36].
  • Alcohol-specific deaths in Northern Ireland's most deprived areas are over three times higher than in the least deprived areas (30.3 compared with 8.3 deaths per 100,000) [36].
  • Scotland is the only country to experience a decrease in death rates since 2001, but still has the highest rate of alcohol-specific deaths in the UK. Scotland’s alcohol-specific death rate fell by more than a third between 2006 and 2019 [14].
  • In England in 2018, there were over 314,000 potential years of life lost related to alcohol consumption, the highest level since 2011 [8].
  • The rate of hospital admissions due to alcoholic liver disease in England increased by 18% from 2016/17 to 2019/20 [25].
  • The rate of older people over the age of 65 admitted to hospitals in England for alcohol-related conditions rose by 7% from 2016/17 to 2019/20 [8].

Taken from Alcohol Change UK 

Drinking alcohol affects people differently. Depending on factors such as your ability to limit your drinking and your tolerance to alcohol, the overall short- and long-term effects of alcohol can have on your physical and mental health may be different to another person.

What is clear, however, is that drinking alcohol beyond the recommended guidelines can have significant short- and long-term effects on your body.

Alcohol abuse and an increasing consumption of alcohol can lead to alcoholism, where you depend on it to function. This can put you at risk of serious conditions including liver damage, which may not become apparent until later in life.

How long do the effects of alcohol last?

The answer to this question depends on many factors. Your size, general tolerance for alcohol, how much you’ve drunk and even things like how much you’ve eaten that day will all impact the longevity of short-term alcohol effects.

Your body is able to metabolise (process) one standard alcoholic drink per hour. That doesn’t necessarily mean the ‘buzz’ people experience when drunk will wear off at the same rate. Some of the things we experience when drunk, like slurred speech or difficulty concentrating, can last for hours even after your last drink – especially if you’ve had quite a lot of alcohol.

Sobering up can be sped up by sleeping, exercising or drinking lots of water. Depending on how much alcohol has been consumed, alcohol can stay in your system for many hours after your last drink.  Typically, alcohol can still be detected in your system for:

  • Up to 6 hours after your last alcoholic drink via a blood test
  • Approximately 12-14 hours after alcohol was last consumed via a urine test
  • Approximately 12-14 hours after alcohol was last consumed after a breath test
  • Approximately 12-14 hours after alcohol was last consumed via a salvia test
  • Up to 90 after last consuming alcohol via a hair test

Short-term effects of alcohol

Even when drinking a glass or two of wine or a pint of beer, you may notice the short-term effects of alcohol. Along with reduced tension and lowered inhibitions, you may have a problem concentrating while your reflexes and reaction time may slow down.

When drinking a high amount of alcohol over a short space of time, this can stimulate a series of unwanted short-term side effects.

Short-term effects of alcohol are:

  • Slurred speech
  • Sense of euphoria or giddiness
  • Feeling relaxed
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor vision
  • Fluctuating emotions
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of coordination and reflexes
  • Passing out
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Alcohol-induced psychosis

The next day you might also experience dehydration, headaches, nausea or increased anxiety – known as “hangnxiety”.

Long-term effects of alcohol

If drunk frequently over a long period of time, alcohol can affect many different aspects of your life. From how you feel and your behaviour to how your body functions, here are some long-term effects of alcohol:

  • Changes in your weight and appetite
  • Isolating yourself from friends and family
  • Trouble sleeping or even insomnia
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating, either at work or home
  • Reduction in your libido
  • Loss of interest or motivation to do things you once enjoyed
  • General fatigue or feelings of lethargy
  • Lack of concern for your personal hygiene of physical appearance

These effects are all potential signs of an alcohol problem. If you’re experiencing some of these effects over a long period of time, it could be that you have an alcohol abuse disorder and should consider professional support.

Taken from priory group website. 

Harm Reduction

The aim of harm reduction thinking in alcohol intake is to reduce the negative consequences that drinking may have on you both physically and mentally.

  • Ask yourself why you drink? Do you feel insecure in company? Does it help you forget trauma? If the answer to any of this is an emphatic ‘yes’ then you may find you need some help with your drinking. Even if you know that alcohol makes you and many others feel more confident and less anxious, your drinking could be masking a problem that lead to a heavier more entrenched drinking pattern.
  • Mixing alcohol with some drug types is very dangerous and never beneficial. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and mixing it with anxiolytics like diazepam can cause respiratory depression.
  • Be aware that heavy drinking can cause you to alter perception and the boundaries of your usual behaviour and leave you vulnerable. If you do find you have drunk too much-tell a friend, keep near people you trust and don’t travel home alone.
  • Many people suggest that it is better not to mix alcohol types particularly spirits.
  • Ask yourself if you have a ritual around your drinking that causes you not to question your drinking levels.
  • Change to a less potent regular drink (drink with a lower ABV)
  • Have something to eat before/ while drinking.
  • Taking your time over your drink.
  • Environment and company is important. Socialise outside heavy drinking circles. Competitive drinking can be risky and damaging. If you go out with a big crowd you may be expected to keep up.
  • Have alcohol free days. Hydrate yourself, water and fruit juice are good. Give your liver a day off!
  • Have a budget for the night - certain number of cash/no cards.
  • Regular drinking at home is not advisable. Be aware when you are drinking alone.
  • Not playing or severely limiting getting involved in drinking games is sensible.
  • Have smaller measures - 25ml instead of double, small glass of wine instead of large.
  • Changing what you drink - type of drink/ less units e.g. 25ml vodka and tonic (1 unit) rather than large glass of wine (3 units) or 330ml bottle of Lager 3.8% (1.2 units) rather than pint of stronger lager (5%) (2.8 units).
  • Decide how much you are going to drink on an evening and stick to it - think about commitments the next day e.g. children, work, driving.
  • Alcohol can stay at detectable levels in your urine overnight. This could get you a conviction, a ban or worse a prison sentence.
  • When you drive a car or motorbike after a heavy drinking bout, or immediately after a moderate drink you might be endangering not just your life but the lives of others. You may have to live with the consequences of an accident even if you did not cause it. Ask if it is worth the risk.
  • Think about how quickly you drink (more quickly than others?)
  • Publicans are not daft- salty snacks/nuts may make you thirsty and drink more.
  • Distance yourself from certain personal influences/ social situations where drinking is the norm.
  • That last 150 mls in the bottle isn’t challenging you to drink it if you don't feel like it -don't.
  • Do you notice other people are making comments about your drinking? 
  • Do you get into fights /arguments? Is alcohol provoking an inner anger? Are you projecting your frustration onto others?

Taken from release UK.

  • Lower blood sugar.
  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Fewer alcohol-related symptoms, like headaches, heartburn, indigestion and stomach upsets.
  • Less fatty build-up around the liver.
  • Improving existing conditions - depression, high blood pressure or skin conditions such as rosacea.
  • Better sleep.
  • More money 
  • Improved concentration 
  • Less fatigue
  • Better relationships 
  • Better overall functioning 
  • Reduce risk of alcohol related disease or harm 


The best change comes from within is inspired form within, there is support out there, if you are asking the question, what is my relationship with alcohol that is the start of a journey, you are opening the possibility I may need to take some small steps and reduce harm, allow space and growth for other tools and techniques and behaviours to manage stress and promote healthy happy wellbeing, life is all about balance and alcohol use can easily get out of balance and it can be managed, if you need help alcohol can be very problematic and effect your body and mind and wellbeing in so many ways, taking positive steps to reduce that harm can really be beneficial and you can improve your relationship with alcohol which in turn improves your health and wellbeing and overall wellbeing. I have seen many people take some very positive steps and found that there are other ways to strike balance and harmony in your life no matter what the situation it can always be improved if you cultivate everything that is already inside of you when it comes to change. So change your thoughts, change your relationship with alcohol and see the benefits for yourself, Your never alone in that journey.

  • NHS Support Alcohol support.
  • Caring for an alcoholic? Find out where you can get support on the Carers Trust website.
  • One You Lincolnshire Tips and advice on drinking less.
  • We are With You - Confidential advice, support and treatment for alcohol dependency and drug misuse for adults and young people living in Lincolnshire.  You can receive support in various locations all across Lincolnshire and can engage with one to ones or groups to help you reduce the harms that substances cause.
  • Self-Help Addiction Recovery | UK Smart Recovery - helpful resource and meetings to help you change motivation, manage triggers cravings and build motivation and look at alternatives to support behaviour change with Alcohol.
  • Drinkchat - Free online chat service for anyone who is looking for information or advice about their own, or someone else’s, drinking. Our trained advisors are on hand to give you confidential advice. Drinkchat is available from 9am-2pm on weekdays. Chat with an advisor.
  • Drinkline - Free, confidential helpline for anyone who is concerned about their drinking, or someone else's. Helpline: 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am–8pm, weekends 11am–4pm). If you are in Scotland, you can also contact Drinkline Scotland on 0800 7314 314.
  • We Are With You (formerly Addaction) - UK-wide treatment agency, helping individuals, families and communities to manage the effects of drug and alcohol misuse. If you are over 50 and have concerns about your drinking, you can also call the helpline. Helpline: 0808 801 0750. Visit the We Are With You website.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Great Britain - AA supports the recovery and continued sobriety of individuals. Meetings are available online and in person. Helpline: 0800 917 7650. Email helpline: Visit the Alcoholics Anonymous website.
  • Al-Anon -  Al-Anon in the UK and Republic of Ireland offers support to families and friends affected by someone else’s drinking. Helpline: 0800 008 6811. Visit the Al-Anon website.
  • ADFAM - Information, advice and local support services for families affected by alcohol and drugs. Please note ADFAM do not operate a helpline but general queries can be made on 07442 137 421 or 07552 986 887. Visit the ADFAM website.
  • National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACOA) - Information, advice and support for children of alcohol-dependent parents and anyone concerned with the welfare of a child. Helpline: 0800 358 3456. Email helpline: Visit the National Association for Children of Alcoholics website.
  • FRANK - Confidential information, advice and support for anyone concerned about alcohol and illegal drugs. Helpline: 0300 123 6600 (24hrs a day, 7 days a week). Visit the FRANK website.
  • Samaritans - Confidential non-judgmental emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicide. Helpline: 116 123 (24hrs a day, 7 days a week). Email helpline: (they try their hardest to get back to your email within 24 hours). Visit the Samaritans website.
  • Mind - Information and advice about mental health and support services. Helpline: 0300 123 3393. Visit Mind's website.
  • SFAD - Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs (SFAD) is a national charity that supports anyone concerned about someone else’s alcohol or drug use in Scotland. The helpline is open from 9am-11pm on weekdays with a call-back service on weekends. Helpline: 08080 10 10 11. Visit SFAD's website.
  • DAN - DAN is a free and confidential bilingual helpline for anyone seeking alcohol and drug support in Wales. It operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Helpline: 0808 808 2234.
  • Drinks meter app – helps you track how much your drinking. Drinks Meter app | Change Grow Live.