Hazardous drinking is defined as when a person drinks over the recommended weekly limit of alcohol (14 units for both men and women).
It is also possible to drink hazardously by binge drinking, even if you are within your weekly limit. Binge drinking involves drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short space of time – eight units in a day for men and six units in a day for women.
If you are drinking hazardously, you may not yet have any health problems related to alcohol, but you are increasing your risk of experiencing problems in the future.
Harmful drinking is defined as when a person drinks over the recommended weekly amount of alcohol and experiences health problems that are directly related to alcohol.
In some cases, there may be obvious problems such as:
Many of the health problems that occur as a result of harmful drinking do not cause any symptoms until they reach their most serious stages. These include:
This means it can be easy to underestimate the levels of physical damage that is caused by harmful drinking. Harmful drinking can also cause related social problems, such as difficulties with your partner or spouse, family and friends or at work or college.
Alcohol is both physically and psychologically addictive. It is possible to become dependent on it.
Being dependent on alcohol means that a person feels that they are unable to function without alcohol, and the consumption of alcohol becomes an important, or sometimes the most important, factor in their life.
Depending on the level of dependence, a person can experience withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop drinking alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms can be both physical and psychological.
Physical withdrawal symptoms include:
Psychological withdrawal symptoms include:
Severely dependent drinkers usually experience severe withdrawal symptoms. They often fall into a pattern of “relief drinking”, where they drink to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Severely dependent drinkers are often able to tolerate very high levels of alcohol, and they are able to drink amounts that would incapacitate, or even kill, most other people.
Alcohol is a powerful chemical that can have a wide range of effects on almost every part of your body, including your brain, bones and heart.
Alcohol and its associated risks can have both short-term and long-term effects. In 2009-10, there were around 1 million hospital admissions due to an alcohol-related injury or condition.
The short-term effects of alcohol are described below. This information is based on the assumption that you have a normal tolerance to alcohol. Dependent drinkers with a higher tolerance to alcohol can often drink much more without experiencing any noticeable effects.
Our Alcohol Liaison Service or Inspiring Recovery Service can help you safely reduce your alcohol intake. Here is some simple advice which may help.
The rate you reduce your drinking is up to you as you are in control. It’s important to try to strike a balance between not cutting down so quickly that you get severe withdrawal symptoms and not so slowly that you never actually stop!
We provide services in:
We understand that the circumstances that people are in can be very difficult. In the Wakefield District, under our West Yorkshire Finding Independence project (or WY-FI for short), we offer added assistance to help people who have at least three of the following four issues:
For more information, visit our WY-FI page.
Other substance misuse services: A Community Alcohol Liaison Practitioner, Head & Neck Cancer Alcohol Liaison Nurses at Pinderfields and St James’ Hospitals, Pinderfields Alcohol Liaison Service.
Spectrum Head Office
Wakefield Sexual Health
Barnsley Sexual Health
Wigan & Leigh Sexual Health