Group of friends enjoying a beer at pub in London

The Danger of Underestimating Your Alcohol Consumption

A British health survey reveals that people are probably drinking a lot more than they think, which puts them at risk for serious health issues. The study indicates that people may be off by as much as 40 percent.

As part of an alcohol awareness campaign in the U.K., 19 people kept a drink diary for 14 weeks. Their diaries revealed they were drinking 40 percent more than they thought they were. While excessive drinking carries serious health risks, most people who over-consume alcohol do not consider themselves to be heavy drinkers and therefore do not see themselves in danger.

The Risks of Heavy Drinking

Current recommendations are two to three daily units of alcohol for women and three to four daily units for men. Exceeding these amounts can lead to serious long-term health issues, including liver disease, stroke, digestive problems, high blood pressure, and cancer. It may also lead to learning and memory difficulties and mental health problems.

In the short term, excessive alcohol consumption puts people at increased risk for injuries, violence, risky behaviors and alcohol poisoning. Other negative consequences may include lower productivity and familial troubles.

According to British studies, 80 percent of people who over-consume alcohol understand the risks involved in heavy drinking, but most of them consider themselves to be moderate drinkers.  Therefore they do not have any intention of cutting back on their alcohol consumption.

Lowering Alcohol Consumption

It was found in Britain that people who lowered their consumption of alcohol reported physical and emotional improvements. In addition to reducing health risks, cutting back on alcohol has many positive benefits. These include maintaining a healthy weight, saving money, higher productivity, better sleep and higher energy levels.

You can successfully reduce your drinking by introducing small changes to your lifestyle. Preferred methods of decreasing alcohol consumption include substituting a soft drink for an alcoholic beverage or adding more mixers in drinks. Another method is to skip at-home cocktails before going out for drinks with friends. Opt for healthy, delicious “mocktails” instead—there are many recipes online.

There is a mobile app that allows you to determine just how much alcohol you’re consuming. You can set goals and track your drinking patterns over time, while receiving personalized support and tips for cutting down on drinking.

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