Alcohol

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There is much evidence to demonstrate that drinking too much alcohol can result in serious physical and mental illness.
Often people drink for a change in mood or mental state. Alcohol can temporarily alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression, acting as a temporary coping strategy, or it can temporarily relieve the symptoms of more serious mental health problems.
Alcohol problems are more common among people with severe mental health problems, however, this does not necessarily mean that alcohol causes mental illness. The term ‘self medication’ is used to describe people who use alcohol to manage their emotions, thinking and behaviour. Using alcohol in this way can often make existing mental health problems worse.
Consumption of higher amounts of alcohol has been shown to lead to higher levels of mental ill health.

How does drinking affect our moods and mental health?

Alcohol in our blood affects our mood and our behaviour. How these change is the result of how much we drink and how quickly we drink it. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, and has an impact on our whole body. This can make us less inhibited in our behaviour. Alcohol can ‘numb’ our emotions and is often used to manage difficult issues in our lives. However, alcohol can also amplify our underlying feelings. If our underlying feelings are of anxiety, anger or unhappiness, then alcohol can amplify them.

What about the after effects?

People may have worsened symptoms of anxiety when the effects of alcohol have worn off. Alcohol may use up and reduce the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain, but the brain needs a certain level of neurotransmitters to manage and control anxiety and depression. People may then choose to drink more, to manage these difficult feelings, and a unhealthy cycle of dependence can develop.

How much is ‘too much’?

Current recommended ‘Sensible Drinking’ limits are three to four units a day for men and two to three units a day for women
  • 1 pint premium beer (5% vol) = 3 units
  • 1 pint lager (3% vol) = 2 units
  • 1 small glass wine 175mm (12% vol) = 1 units
  • 1 measure spirit (40% vol) = 1 unit

Impact of Alcohol Dependency

  • loss of employment
    loss of relationships
    loss of home
    loss of self-esteem
    increased risk of dual diagnosis
    loss of life

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