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Alcohol misuse

Alcohol is often used with drugs such as cocaine or heroin, including the drug and alcohol harm reduction messages are key to good harm reduction practices.

Go to the end of this page to see our "Easy to do- healthier liver tips" from hi.  We have collected all our tips from the week.  You can download the leaflet in the supporting documents to use when shopping as a reminder of the easy steps you can take to love your liver! 

What are the levels of alcohol consumption in England?

  • Around ten million adults in England currently drink above the NHS recommendations.
  • Estimates show that alcohol-related harm costs the NHS around £2.7bn per year, whilst A&E visits and ambulance costs represent an estimated £1bn per annum.

What are the NHS recommendations?

  • The NHS advises that men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units a day (about two pints of ordinary strength beer) and women no more than 2-3 units a day (about two small glasses, or one large glass, of wine).
  • A unit is 10ml of pure alcohol.

To what extent does alcohol really affect your health?

  • People who regularly drink more than the recommended limits, which is around two to three alcoholic drinks a day depending on the particular drinks, are more likely to suffer chronic and fatal illness.
  • Regularly drinking above the NHS recommended limits increases the risk of damaging your health and can play a role in more than 60 health conditions.
  • In the UK, most of the people who will die because of their drinking are notalcoholics. Instead, they are drinkers whose habit of regular drinking over a number of years has contributed to the damage to their health and the shortening of their lives. Many of these people suffer few immediate consequences of their drinking, but cumulatively it takes its toll.
  • Department of Health research suggests that people are already aware of the potential liver damage associated with heavy drinking and the short-term consequences of memory loss, dehydration and reduced concentration. However, drinkers are not so aware of many of the other health risks

Some useful information

If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. i.e. within the sensible drinking guidelines - this will reduce the health and social risks to yourself and others, which often result from drinking to excess.

Use the drink diary in the supporting documents to keep a record of what you are drinking. 

Adult women are advised not to regularly drink more than 2-3 units/day and no more than 14 units/week.

Adult men are advised not to regularly drink more than 3-4 units/day and no more than 21 units/ week.

Drink on no more than 5 days a week and have a day off between drinking days.
There are no sensible drinking guidelines for children and young people under the age of 18, so safe amounts would be much lower than for adults.

Pregnant women, women trying to conceive and people with certain medical conditions, such as liver disease and cancer, are advised not to consume alcohol.

Drink on no more than 5 days a week and have a day off between drinking days (48 hours off after a heavy drinking session) – this will help your body to recover from the toxic effects of alcohol.

Don’t save up your daily units and have them in one go – this is ‘binge drinking’! Also remember that you do not need to be drunk for alcohol to cause damage to your health.

Women feel the effects of alcohol more than men - there are 3 reasons for this.
Firstly, women have a lower percentage of water in their bodies than men (and a higher level of body fat), meaning there is less water to dilute alcohol.

Secondly, women have less of the chemical that breaks down alcohol in the liver.
And thirdly, women are generally smaller than men, so it takes alcohol less time for alcohol to get round the body and have an effect.

Don’t mix your drinks – mixing your drinks, especially with spirits and other high strength alcoholic drinks, will make you drunk more quickly. Avoid ‘shots’ and ‘shooters’ which speed up intoxication.


Brief Intervention

Brief Intervention with Alcohol clients looks at relapse prevention, drink/mood diaries, alcohol consumption (including alcohol units), safe drinking levels, cycle of change, education, healthy lifestyle’s and mainly the clients aim’s around their alcohol usage.

The process begins with a comprehensive assessment to gauge both were a client is and where they want to be. This also looks at client aims at an early stage to help engage and motivate clients.

Brief intervention comprises of 6 sessions which are up to an hour in length. Motivational interviewing is used to encourage clients along their chosen pathway. As the process is client led, it is important for the worker to look at the best methods of working with each client. This could be using scaling questions, motivational interviewing or other methods i.e. a visual approach.

Depending on the aims of the client, the worker can assess what approach to take. The client will be given information around relapse prevention.  A structured format is used to record the information so a complete plan is in place should a client feel they are relapsing.  This can also assist the client in recognising what some of the triggers may be to their drinking.

An important part of the process is to look at the surrounding issues of client wellbeing.  Worker and client together look at their diet, sleeping patterns and work/study. Education is a key factor to helping the client. This part may also cover how to count the alcohol units and safe drinking limits.

When the worker and client feel they have gone as far as they can working together or the sessions come to an end a further referral may be necessary. Good knowledge of local agencies is essential to refer the client on.



Easy-to-do advice


Helpful advice for the liver

The liver is an organ roughly the size of a football that site just under your rib cage on the right side of the abdomen.  Liver helps to digest food and adsorb nutrients, get rid of toxic substances from the body. The liver vital for wellbeing, here are some helpful and easy to do tips to help keep your liver well. 

Your liver loves lemon.  Add lemon to your drinking water during the day to help clean your liver.

Garlic has selenium and glutathione, both of which act as antioxidants.

Brown rice provides the antioxidant, selenioum and also B vitamins.

Broccoli contains B and C vitamins and is a good source of folic acid.

Cayenne pepper is know to have many phytochemicals including beta-carotene and lutein and is rich in B, C and E vitamins.

Carrots contain beta carotene that help protect the liver.

Download our Easy-to-do leaflet in the supporting documents section below!




Roweena Russell, E: , T: 079 57 57 6305
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