Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub is backing Scottish Government and NHS Scotland’s ‘Count 14’ campaign, encouraging people across the Cumbernauld area to make sure they are keeping health risks from drinking alcohol low.
It comes as research shows that drinkers of wine, beer and spirits remain largely unsure of how many drinks make up the recommended weekly alcohol unit guideline. As such, people who have looked to reduce their alcohol intake in January are being urged to Count 14 in February, and beyond.
NHS Scotland guidelines advise that you don’t drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread out over at least three days. This is the same for both men and women.
Figures released last year highlighted that in 2018, Scots bought enough alcohol for every adult to drink 19 units of alcohol per week. This means that on average, every adult in Scotland is drinking 36% more than the lower risk guidelines. Mary McNeil, Development Manager at Cornerstone House Centre, commented:
“Initiatives to help keep our alcohol consumption in check, such as ‘Dry January’, where people are encouraged to give up drinking during the first month of the year, can be a great way to start the year on a healthy note.
“However, studies have shown that many Scots who do so well and stop drinking in January lose the benefits by going back to drinking more than the recommended weekly intake for the remainder of the year.
“The Count 14 campaign advises that 14 units of alcohol should be the maximum consumed on a weekly basis over a regular period. By increasing understanding of what this means in terms of actual alcoholic drinks, our hope is that adults in Cumbernauld are able to make more informed choices.
“The 14 unit guideline equates to six pints of medium strength beer, lager or cider, or alternatively six medium glasses of wine. If spirits are your choice of drink, it is equivalent to seven double measures of spirits over the course of a week.
“The alcohol guidelines are based on the clear evidence that as alcohol use increases, so does the risk of a range of health harms. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, digestive problems and various cancers.”
Individuals who are keen to make sure they keep within the recommended guidelines can gain more detailed information about the breakdown of 14 units by visiting www.count14.scot. The website incorporates a drinks calculator, which adds up the number of units consumed based on what you drink in a typical week.
Further excellent information on low-drinking guidelines, the risks of drinking too much, advice on cutting down, and alcohol and pregnancy can be obtained by visiting the NHS Inform website. It also contains details of what to do if controlling your alcohol intake is becoming difficult or problematic.
If you’re concerned about how much you are drinking or are having problems keeping within the recommended limits, a good first step is to visit your GP. Be honest with them, and they will be able to discuss a range of options with you in terms of help, support, services and treatments available.
TIPS ON REDUCING YOUR ALCOHOL INTAKE
If you are keen to make a change this year and cut down on the amount you drink, here are some ideas of some small and simple things that you could try to help:
Make a Plan – Before you start drinking, set a limit on how much you’re going to drink and stick to it
Set a Budget – Only take a fixed amount of money to spend on alcohol
Go Alcohol Free – You could replace some of your alcoholic drinks with beverages such as non-alcoholic lager and mocktails, which do not contain alcohol
Try Mindful Drinking – Learn more about becoming a ‘mindful drinker’ by joining club soda
Downsize – Have a smaller drink every time you have a drink – for example a half-pint instead of a pint, or a single instead of a double
Swap Drinks – Cut down alcohol by swapping strong beers or wines for ones with a lower strength (ABV in %); this can be done by checking the label on the bottle or ask bar staff for advice
Introduce Water and Soft Drinks – Have a glass of water before you have alcohol and alternate alcoholic drinks with water or a soft drink
Drink-Free Days – Have several drink-free days each week
Cutting Back Gradually – Cut back a little each day; that way, every day you do, is a success
Don’t Go It Alone – Let your friends and family know you’re cutting down and it’s important to you, so they can support you
Make a Drinking Diary – If you’re aiming to cut down your drinking, a good thing to do is to keep a note of what you drink and when.