Drink and Drugs News DDN Alcohol and Health

DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS – WIDER HEALTH SERIES ALCOHOL AND HEALTH W e all know that alcohol is linked to health problems; however, the range and scale of those harms is far wider than many of us think. In particular, drinking very heavily brings with it a number of serious physical risks. This special supplement, which Alcohol Research UK is proud to be sponsoring, provides a clear and detailed overview of those risks, as well as advice for people likely to encounter such problems in their day-to-day work. As this supplement shows, heavy drinking can cause more than liver damage. Its impact on mental health, hypertension, and cancer risk are only now becoming widely recognised. The revised ‘low risk’ guidelines of 14 units per week for men and women reflect this growing awareness and are based on a comprehensive analysis of the full range of conditions associated with alcohol consumption. Of course, many people reading this supplement will be dealing with individuals drinking at far higher levels than those set out in the guidelines, and here the risks become very significant. However, the signs of harm are not always obvious, which is why a guide such as this is so important. Understanding and awareness are key. Non-specialists can’t be expected to provide detailed diagnoses, which is why one of the most important messages from this supplement is to get people to check in with their GP. However, knowing what some of the symptoms look like, and having a sense of what kinds of questions to ask, is invaluable. As with all things, early intervention is essential to preventing potentially tragic consequences down the line. Therefore, the advice contained here will be of enormous help to anyone working with individuals facing health risks from their drinking and, of course, to those individuals themselves. Dr James Nicholls, director of research and policy development, Alcohol Research UK Supported by Alcohol Research UK and Alcohol Concern merged in April 2017 to form a major independent national charity, working to reduce the harms caused by alcohol. For more information visit: www.alcoholresearchuk.org and www.alcoholconcern.org.uk