Alcohol – Live Well Centre

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The use of alcohol is very common in Middlesbrough, and for most people, it’s used in moderation. But the harm caused is still increasing – drug and alcohol support services are seeing some of the highest numbers ever of people needing support, police are seeing more alcohol-driven violence in Middlesbrough town centre on weekends, and alcohol-related A&E visits are on the rise.

Alcohol can cause severe short term problems, as well as very significant long term problems.

Short term problems

Alcohol changes how you see danger, which can lead to poor decision-making. This is why alcohol is often a factor in fighting, drink driving, and other risk-taking behaviours. This puts huge strain on the NHS, policing, and the council, both in terms of the amount of work it creates, and also how much it costs.

Did you know – in 2017, the rate of alcohol-related deaths in the UK was highest in the north east region, with 15.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

Long term problems

Current health advice is that men and women should not exceed 14 units per week, spread over 3 days. Drinking more than this, and drinking a lot for many years, may damage your organs, including the brain, heart, liver, and pancreas. It can also weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to serious infections, and weaken your bones, increasing the risk of fracturing or breaking them.

Other long term effects include:

  • head and neck cancer
  • breast cancer
  • bowel cancer
  • dementia
  • sexual problems like impotence or premature ejaculation
  • infertility
  • mouth cancer
  • high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • pancreatitis
  • liver disease
  • liver cancer
  • mouth cancer
  • heart attacks

Do you know your limits?

The recommended maximum amount of alcohol you should drink in a week is 14 units, for both men and women. This should be spread over at least 3 days. Remember, this is the maximum amount you should drink – it’s perfectly okay (and probably a good idea) to drink way less than this!

6 pints of beer (4% ABV) = 14 units

Graphic illustrating that 6 pints of beer equals 14 units

7 glasses of wine (175ml, 11.5% ABV) = 14 units

Graphic illustrating that 7 glasses of wine equals 14 units

14 shots (25ml, 40% ABV) = 14 units

Graphic illustrating that 14 shots equals 14 units

Keeping safe

Alcohol poisoning is a major cause of people going to A&E. It takes the body 1 hour to filter 1 unit of alcohol, and an average pint of lager has 2.3 units. So it’s easy to see how a night out can start to have serious consequences if you’re having multiple pints or glasses of wine per hour.

Make smart swaps. If you’re regularly drinking every evening, start by making small changes, like having a non-alcoholic drink with your evening meal instead of your usual alcoholic drink. Or if you’re drinking because you’re bored, why not take up a new hobby to fill your time. If pressure from work is a factor, try a stress-busting activity like running, going to the gym, yoga, or meditation.

If you’re out, look out for your friends, and talk to them about what you’ll do if something goes wrong. If someone wants to go home, be a good mate and support them, don’t encourage them to stay out, and help them get home.

Supporting someone else

If you’re worried about a loved one or friend, check out the information in the supporting someone else section.

Middlesbrough skyline graphic