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Is the UK a nation of alcoholics?

alcoholProbably not. Or at least they don’t like to admit to it. The UK government recommends that they drink no more than four units a day if we are male or three units a day if we are female.

Translated into tipple, that is two pints of standard lager for men or a large glass (25cl) of wine for women, if they stick to drinking stereotypes.

Not a lot I hear you say, and there in lies the problem. Most people would probably not think they had a problem if they had three pints a night, or two glasses of wine.

However, as we well know, two becomes three becomes four, and before you know it you have a real problem. It is human nature to ignore problems and hope they go away. Unfortunately, if you do have a serious drinking problem, it is not something that will go away of its own accord and you may require alcohol rehab.

It is of course possible to ‘self medicate’, but it requires serious will power and it does help if you have a plan, a sort of route map. Here are a few small things that could help on your journey to sobriety:

Make a plan - Before you start drinking, set yourself a limit on how much you’re going to drink.

Set yourself a budget - Only take a fixed amount of money to spend on alcohol.

Let them know - If you let your friends and family know you’re cutting down and that it’s important to you, you could get support from them.

Take it a day at a time - Try and cut back a little each day. That way, every day you do is a success.

Make it a smaller one - You can still enjoy a drink but go for smaller sizes. Try bottled beer or a small glass of wine.

Have a lower-strength drink - Cut down the alcohol by swapping strong beers or wines for ones with a lower strength (ABV in %). You'll find this information on the bottle.

Stay hydrated - Drink a pint of water before you start drinking, and avoid using alcohol to quench your thirst. Have a soft drink instead.

Take a break - Have the odd day each week when you don’t have an alcoholic drink.

Drink diary - Make yourself a drink diary to track your drinking over a week.

Of course it may not be for you that you are reading this article but for a friend or relative. In cases where friends and relatives feel they need to become involved it is often too late for the individual to stop drinking on their own. In these instances it is more than likely the individual will need to be admitted into an alcohol rehab centre.

Benefits of cutting down

The most immediate effects of cutting down include:

• Feeling better in the mornings

• Being less tired during the day

• Your skin may start to look better

• You’ll start to feel fitter

• You may stop gaining weight

Long-term benefits include:

Mood - There’s a strong link between heavy drinking and depression, and hangovers often make you feel anxious and low. If you already feel anxious or sad, drinking can exaggerate this, so cutting down may put you in a better mood generally.

Sleep - Drinking can affect your sleep. Although it can help some people fall asleep quickly, it can disrupt your sleep patterns and stop you from sleeping deeply. So cutting down on alcohol should help you feel more rested when you wake up.

Behaviour - Drinking can affect your judgment and behaviour. You may behave irrationally or aggressively when you’re drunk. Memory loss can be a problem during drinking and in the long-term for regular heavy drinkers.

Heart - Long-term heavy drinking can lead to your heart becoming enlarged. This is a serious condition that can’t be completely reversed, but stopping drinking is an important part of preventing it getting worse.

Immune system - Regular drinking can affect your immune system. Heavy drinkers tend to catch more infectious diseases.

If you do struggle on your own, and the vast majority of people do, private alcohol rehab clinics remain one the most popular and effective ways of dealing with drink addiction. The specialist help and round-the-clock supervision is essential to take the first steps on the road to freedom from addiction.

Los Olivos is a specialist private alcohol rehab clinic that helps those addicted to quite through professional and medical support.

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