Learn More About Alcohol

What is alcohol dependence?

Alcohol dependence, sometimes known as alcoholism, is the most serious form of drinking problem and describes a strong, often uncontrollable desire to drink alcohol.

Drinking plays an important part in the day-to-day life of alcohol dependent people, which could lead to building up a physical tolerance or experiencing withdrawal symptoms if they stop.

There are varying degrees of alcohol dependence, and they don’t always involve excessive levels of drinking. If you find that you ‘need’ to share a bottle of wine with your partner most nights of the week, or always go for a few pints after work, just to unwind, you’re likely to be drinking at a level that could affect your long-term health.

If you find it very difficult to enjoy yourself or relax without having a drink, you could have become psychologically dependent on alcohol. Physical dependence can follow suit. This can look like sweating, shaking and nausea when your blood alcohol level falls.

How does alcohol leave the body?
About 90% of alcohol is broken down by your liver into CO2 and water, about 2-3% by your kidneys, 2-6% by your sweat and 2-6% by your breath. As a rough guide it takes between two and three hours for a pint of beer, cider or lager (depending on the strength), or three hours for a large glass of wine to leave your system.

What are the signs of alcohol dependence?
If you feel the need to drink every day, or if you feel sick, start trembling or feel you can’t cope without alcohol, you may be suffering with alcohol addiction. Using alcohol to cope with your emotions, to cope with stress or to help you feel more confident in social situations, are unhealthy ways to use alcohol and getting support is a good idea.

What is an acceptable amount to drink?
The department of health advise that the maximum weekly allowance is 14 units for men & women. It is advised that no alcohol should be consumed during pregnancy. Being under the influence of alcohol at work (even a hangover after a heavy night) can seriously impair your judgement and can make you less productive and can put you at greater risk of injury. It could also cause disciplinary action, including losing your job, so making sensible choices about when, and how much, you drink and how much, can really impact your life.