WE all enjoy a pint with our mates or a glass or wine with dinner every now and again.
But for some people, these habits can become unsustainable, with medics warning that there could be more booze-related deaths in the next 20 years.
While you might not think you have a problem, it's important to know your risk, as increased consumption can lead to serious consequences.
This can include severe issues with the liver as well as digestive issues and problems with your kidneys.
Take the quiz above to determine whether or not you're drinking too much – with anything over eight indicating harmful or hazardous drinking.
NHS guidelines suggest people should not regularly drink more than 14 units a week — around 112g of pure alcohol.
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But a combination of the cost of living crisis and bad habits formed in lockdown have meant many Brits are consuming more.
A University of Sheffield study recently found that up to 25,000 people could die over the next 20 years due to habits formed in lockdown.
Brits' habits, they said, could also result in more hospital admissions – putting the NHS under even more pressure.
Medics in Sweden have now said there is no 'safe limit' of alcohol consumption.
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The experts at Linköping University said the term 'risky drinking' is used when there is a marked increased risk of negative consequences.
In a new trial, they found that digital solutions, such as an app, would help people quit the booze for good.
Associate professor at the Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences at Linköping University, Marcus Bendtsen said participants in the study said it was important for them to reduce their booze intake.
However – he said that the majority indicated that they didn't know how to do it.
"Those who got access to the digital support began to feel more self-assured about how they could go about actually changing their behaviour," he said.
He added that current warnings in place about the dangers of alcohol 'aren't enough' to deter people.
Where to get help if you think you have a problem
If you think you might have a problem with booze then you may need to seek help.
This might be the case if you often feel the need to have a drink or if you get into trouble because of your drinking.
If other people have warned you about your drink and it's causing you problems then a good place to start is your GP.
There are other places you can go to get help:
- Drinkline: Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).
- AA – a free self help group that follows the 12 step programme
- Al-Anon Family Groups – a group for friends and family members impacted by drinking
- We Are With You – for individuals, families and communities struggling – call 0808 8010 750 – if you're over 50 and worried about booze
- Adfam – local support groups and message boards
- National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa) – call 0800 358 3456
- SMART Recovery – to help people discover if they have a problem
The guru said that digital support could be a way to reach more people who need help.
"People who want to quit smoking are encouraged and supported by those around them. But there is stigma around wanting to stop drinking alcohol.
"There is a common conception that one should be able to handle one’s own alcohol consumption, and many don’t seek help, even if they want to change their behaviour", he said.
The medics targeted those who had looked at information to reduce their consumption.
One group were given access to the new tool, with the other being given access to resources already available.
Those who used the new tool could set goals for themselves and set motivational reminders for them to drink less.
Prof Bendtsen said: "Those who had access to the digital tool had roughly 25 percent lower alcohol consumption than the group which didn’t, which is a slightly larger effect than we expected.
"This kind of tool won’t change the overall societal situation when it comes to alcohol consumption, but it is a very good tool for individuals who want to change their own lives."
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The experts are now developing the app to make it available to people who need it.
It will also be adapted to individual needs.
What your score means?
Elaine Hindal, head of charity Drinkaware, reveals what your score means:
0-7 = Low risk
Elaine says: If you drink fewer than 14 units a week, you’re at lower risk of dependence on alcohol and of health problems from drinking.
The good news is, if you sometimes drink more than 14 units a week it should not be too hard to cut back.
Be careful not to binge drink. It can lead to accidents and even alcohol poisoning.
If you drink 14 units a week, spread them out, with at least three drink-free days each week.
8-15 = Increasing risk
Elaine says: It’s important for you to know that your pattern of drinking could be dangerous to your health, because you could be drinking more than 14 units a week.
You could be at an increasing risk of developing some serious health problems and increasing your risk of alcohol dependence.
Now is the time to cut back on how much you have been drinking.
16-19 = Higher risk
Elaine says: Your drinking could be very dangerous to your health.
Regularly drinking much more than the low-risk guideline of 14 units a week causes serious harm – seven types of cancer (including breast), liver and heart disease, and high blood pressure.
You could be at high risk of alcohol dependence and should think seriously about drinking less and perhaps find expert support to help you.
20+ = Possible dependence
Elaine says: Your answers suggest you drink much more than the low-risk guideline of 14 units a week and your drinking is dangerous to your health.
It may already be causing problems to your physical or mental health – or both.
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