Free guide to identifying alcohol abuse

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London: A valuable guide, designed to help identify substance abuse in loved ones, is now available. ‘Beginning RecoveryÂ’ is the title of the new guide, published by Winthrop Hall – the UKÂ’s only purpose built drug and alcohol treatment centre.

Coping with the stresses and strains of modern living can be a test for the toughest of resolves. Some find themselves unable to cope with work pressures, financial problems or family difficulties, and find themselves pushed over the edge, forced to seek solace in alcohol and other substances. You can get the leaflet free from Winthrop Hall

Research carried out by the Greater London Alcohol and Drug Alliance* found that 21% of adult Londoners are harmful users of alcohol, and 1% of LondonÂ’s 7.5 million population are problematic drug users. According to Alcohol Concern*, between 58-60% of 11-15 year olds drink alcohol, with the mean consumption for those who drink doubling from 5 units a week in the early 1990s to 10 units in 2004. By the age of 13, the proportion of those who drink exceeds the proportion of teenagers who do not drink.

This yearÂ’s Statistics on Drug Misuse* reports that men are more likely to take illicit drugs than women – 13.7% took drugs in the last year compared with 7.4% of women. Alarmingly, during 2005/06 181,390 people were in contact with structured drug treatment services. This is a 13% increase on figures during 2004/05, where the number was 160,453 and more than twice the number in 1998/99.

For many, the problem is not obvious. However, there may be a number of noticeable changes that are out-of-character.

Symptoms to look out for:
1. Changes in behaviour or routine – missing appointments, coming home late, going out at odd times
2. Evasiveness and vagueness
3. Mood swings – irritability, aggression, depression or euphoria
4. Taking less pride in appearance, poor skin or a weight loss problem
5. Hand tremors and regular sweats
6. Increased secretiveness or lack of openness, even lying
7. Changes in finances, running out of money or money going missing

All of these symptoms can point to a crisis. ItÂ’s not always easy for the user to admit they have a problem, and trying to help can often lead to confrontation. People sometimes think they can resolve the problem themselves without proper treatment, but if self-help with the support of friends and family has not worked, then professional help is the answer.

ItÂ’s important to remember that help is always at hand – but itÂ’s getting the right help that counts. A copy of the ‘Beginning RecoveryÂ’ guide, offering practical advice on recognising symptoms plus information for getting treatment for substance abuse, is available by calling Winthrop Hall on + 44 (0)1580 894334.

Other support organisations include:
The National Alcohol Helpline: 0800 917 8282
Alcoholics Anonymous: 0845 769 7555
FRANK: The National Drug Helpline: 0800 776600

* source:
Greater London Alcohol and Drug Alliance – London: The Highs and the Lows 2 (January 2007)
Alcohol Concern – Young People’s Drinking, Factsheet
Statistics on Drug Misuse, England 2007 – The Information Centre www.ic.nhs.uk

For more details on Winthrop Hall, call 01580 894334.

Han’s hangover prevention tips!

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Chartered physiotherapist, acupuncturist and naturopath, Hans van de Braak, pictured right, gives his advice on how to beat the festive season hangover:

“As a physiotherapist, naturopath and acupuncturist, I am often asked by friends and family for medical advice. However, around Christmas and New Year I find people seeking my professional expertise on the best way of dealing with the after effects of a celebratory tipple or two. Of course, the best way to avoid a hangover is not to drink too much, but human nature being what it is, the best advice is rarely taken, ” says Han who practices at the Integrated Medicine Practice in Leicestershire.

“And unless you are one of those strong willed souls who manage to resist the lure of the grape or the grain, you may well find yourself in need of some advice during the festive season.

WhatÂ’s your poison?

When you drink too much alcohol you are, in effect, poisoning your body. Your liver is working overtime to break down the ethanol whilst the dehydrating effect of alcohol forces your body to take water from wherever it can find it – including your brain. This causes the cells, now depleted of moisture, to shrink, inducing the pain commonly known as a headache. Drinking too much also drains the body of vital vitamins and minerals especially vitamins A, B and C. This means that any basic hangover treatment should include restoring as much lost moisture as possible whilst replacing the nutrients that your body has lost. So, before you reach for the aspirin, consider some alternative remedies that may be more effective, more natural and more easily available.

HanÂ’s Top Five Hangover Treatments

1. Probably the most well known and effective advice, but still so often ignored – drink plenty of water before, during after and taking in alcohol. It’s got a lot going for it: in plentiful supply and absolutely free if drunk straight from the tap. The more water you can drink, the more quickly it flushes out the liver and rehydrates your poor, aching body. Be sure to avoid drinks containing caffeine as these will only dehydrate you more.
2. Also avoid aspirin and ibuprofen if possible as these tend to irritate the stomach. Instead, try a more natural remedy such as aloe vera. In a concentrated form, such as Aloeride®, aloe vera is the perfect ingredient for an upset stomach as it placates the stomach lining, and settles that horrible queasy feeling. Try taking a couple before you go out, and then a couple the morning after. See www.aloeride.eu for more information.
3. Fruit: another natural and easily available remedy. Bananas are good source of fructose and potassium – both of which are lost when you drink too much alcohol. They are also a natural antacid, rich in magnesium to help ease a throbbing head. Fruit juice is another effective treatment, although it can be a little acid on a delicate stomach. This works well because the fructose in the juice burns up the residual alcohol in the stomach speeding up recovery. If it is too acidic for a sensitive tum, try watering it down.
4. Sweat it out! Head to your nearest sauna or steam room if you can face it (and youÂ’re not still over the limit). Alternatively, walk there as a blast of fresh air will certainly do you good. If that is simply too much exertion, run a hot bath and bask in the steam, sweating out all those nasty toxins.
5. Eat! Make sure that you eat properly before you go out: whilst food doesnÂ’t actually absorb alcohol, it does increase your metabolism and speeds up the bodyÂ’s processes enabling it to deal with the effects of overindulgence more quickly. The traditional fry up – even if you can face it – is best avoided. Choose foods that will release sugar slowly and provide you with a much needed shot of protein to build up those amino acids. Baked beans, scrambled eggs and porridge tick all the right boxes – porridge also works well to neutralise acid.

Whilst following these golden rules wonÂ’t necessarily prevent you having a hangover, they will certainly reduce its effects and speed up your recovery time. With any luck, within a matter of hours youÂ’ll be up and about and in fine fettle – ready to go out and do it all over again – although I really wouldnÂ’t recommend it!

1 in 5 thinks their partner drinks too much

London: One in five of those in relationships in the UK (1) thinks their partner drinks too much, according to new research exploring whether alcohol has more of an impact on relationships than couples might think.

The ICM survey of 1000 people (2) was commissioned for the GovernmentÂ’s new Know Your Limits campaign, which launched in October to encourage responsible drinking.

Sadly alcohol and arguments do seem to mix, with one in four (25%) admitting to having rows when they drink. This is particularly the case with 18 to 24 year olds: half of them (49%) admitted that they row with their partner after drinking alcohol. This is also true for one third (37%) of 35 to 44 year olds.

What are the arguments about?

1. ‘Anything and everything’- 35%
2. The behaviour of either partner – 31%
3. Money – 14%
4. The children – 12%
5. Domestic chores – 11%
6. The fact that your partner is drinking – 10%
7. The in-laws – 5%

More than a third of 18 to 24 year olds (37%) say that their partnersÂ’ behaviour is the biggest cause for their arguments when drinking. This is also true for 35 to 44 year olds (29%). However, amongst the older age groups the likes of children and domestic chores rise up the agenda.

Making up

Most couples resolve arguments and move on – at least until another one brews the next time they start drinking. However, 10% said that they never resolve the arguments; and 11% let the argument escalate and just ignore each other – but eventually make up.

For those that did resolve them quickly, there were two popular options:

Take a step back, calm down and look for a compromise

Agree that alcohol is blurring the issue and drop it until the next day

Commenting on the results, Srabani Sen of Alcohol Concern said:

“Too much alcohol can affect people who might otherwise think things were fine, with either their or their partner’s drinking. We’re beginning to realise though that alcohol misuse not only causes physical harm, but can also blight relationships. People need to be able to recognise the negative impact alcohol might be having on their lives and try to cut down to safer levels.”

Relate counsellor Denise Knowles said:

“Couples should be able to openly discuss their feelings about their partners’ drinking habits if they feel it’s ever a cause for concern. Learning how to discuss issues effectively is a key element of a healthy relationship.”

Know Your Limits is a joint Department of Health and Home Office campaign which encourages people to drink responsibly and get to know their limits. Men should not regularly drink more than 3 to 4 units a day, and women should not regularly drink more than 2 to 3 units a day. Consistently drinking 4 or more units for men (and 3 or more for women) is not advised because of the progressive health risk it carries.

In addition, women who are trying to conceive, or who are at any stage of pregnancy, should not drink more than 1 to 2 units once or twice a week and should avoid getting drunk. Know Your Limits recognises that drinking can be enjoyable, but also emphasises the undesirable consequences of drinking too much, such as arguments with loved ones, getting into fights or being in a vulnerable situation on a night out.

The research backs up the popular perception that men drink more alcohol than women. More than half of the women (56%) drink less than their partner, and half of the men (51%) admitted they drink more than their partner. In fact, 28% of the men confessed that their partner tells them as much. However, 9% of couples feel their partnerÂ’s drinking is a subject they couldnÂ’t easily talk about.

1 Taken from the survey base where people were both in a relationship, and their partner drinks alcohol

2 ICM interviewed a random sample of 1000 adults aged 18 plus by telephone across the UK between 17th–19th November 2006. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.icmresearch.co.uk

Alcohol facts

Alcohol is a major cause of disease and injury: it accounts for 9.2% of years of life lost/lived with disabilities.

Alcohol misuse costs the NHS around ÂŁ1.6 billion every year, mainly in the acute sector.

The estimated annual NHS spend on specialist alcohol treatment is ÂŁ217 million with 65,000 people receiving treatment.

17% of victims of sexual assault surveyed in the British Crime Survey Interpersonal Violence Module 2001 said that the offence took place when they were incapable of consent due to alcohol.

Regular visitors to pubs and bars are twice as likely to be victims of assault
Half of all violent crimes are linked to alcohol

An agreement was made in June 2006 between the Government, Drinks Industry and health stakeholders to set up the Drinkaware Trust. This new charitable Trust will be funded by the drinks industry and is aimed at positively changing the UKÂ’s drinking culture and tackling alcohol-related harm.

For further information see www.knowyourlimits.gov.uk

About Relate

Relate is working to promote health, respect and justice in couple and family relationships

RelateÂ’s services extend beyond couple counselling to family counselling, counselling for young people, online counselling, sex therapy and relationship skills workshops

Relate works in schools, primary care settings, prisons, and with local authorities on homelessness prevention services
Relate supports 150,000 people each year in over 600 locations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

This year Couple Counselling Scotland changed its name to Relate Scotland which remains a separate charity yet operates with shared standards and in close partnership with Relate

For more information and advice visit: www.relate.org.uk