A fifth of Australians have reported drinking alcohol more heavily during Covid than before. New drinking guidelines to support better health are less than 10 standard alcoholic drinks per week, and not more than 4 at any one time. Alcohol free days are still recommended to help your liver recover.
Whilst there are some proven health benefits to drinking, such as reduction in heart disease and Alzheimer’s, and especially if drinking red wine that has the most anti-oxidants, the amount needed to gain this benefit is low. A drink every fortnight or even drinking grape juice can do it – no longer is the evidence pointing to “moderate drinking” as the healthy optimum. Drinking a bottle of wine per week raises your lifetime cancer risk by 1% for men and 1.4% for women – this is like smoking five cigarettes each week for men, or 10 each week for women.
Excessive drinking can cause cancers (breast, mouth, throat, esophagus and liver), pancreatitis, sudden death, heart muscle damage (cardiomyopathy) and heart failure, stroke, high blood pressure, liver disease, suicide, accidental injury, brain damage and growth retardation in an unborn child, and alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
Practical tips on cutting down your alcohol intake are:
- Alternate alcoholic drinks with water
- Try low-alcoholic beverages
- Delay your first drink
- Change your after-work routine
- Only drink with dinner
- Don’t participate in “rounds” and “shouts”
- Sip your drink, don’t scull
- Avoid salty snacks
- Don’t buy drinks for home, only drink going out
- Set a goal, which may include abstinence for a period of time – write the goal down and share it with others to keep you accountable
- Find other ways to relax, including exercise or hobbies
- Talk to you GP about medication that reduce cravings or
- Get counselling from a drug & alcohol psychologist
- If you feel you have a problem, reach out for help – here are some resources, join a group discussion, or enroll in an alcohol program
Happy new year and take it easy! Reducing your drinking will make you feel better, including more energy, better immunity so you get sick less often, better sex, improved sleep, reduced weight, improved gut health and better emotional health.