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Coping with alcohol

In the short term, alcohol abuse can lead to accidents/personal injury as well as to liver damage, which can occur in relatively young individuals if they have been consistently using alcohol. In the longer term, excessive drinking can result in a range of physical and psychological complications and, ultimately, in death.

The Department of Health advise that the sensible drinking limits for men and women are as follows:

  • 3 or 4 units a day or 28 units a week for men
  • 2 or 3 units a day or 21 units a week for women.

1 unit is equivalent to half a pint of standard lager or beer or one standard glass of wine. 1 bottle of alcopop is roughly equivalent to 2 units of alcohol.

Helping Yourself

Read more about Alcohol on our website here: https://sj.sunderland.ac.uk/wellbeing/health-promotion/alcohol/ 

Alcohol can make the symptoms of mental health conditions worse. Sometimes people use alcohol as a way to manage their symptoms, this is known as a ‘coping mechanism’. However, overuse of alcohol can lead to low mood and anxiety and whilst it may offer an immediate feeling of calm, this will fade over time and you may feel worse than before. Using alcohol in this way can mean that the underlying mental health problems aren’t addressed.

If you are taking medication you need to check the enclosed details and check with your GP as drinking alcohol with some medication can have adverse reactions. 

If you come to rely on alcohol to manage your mental health problems, that reliance can itself become a problem. Reach out and talk to someone. You can self-refer into our service here: Wellbeing Referral Form. You can also contact your GP to discuss this, find your nearest GP here.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

  • 0800 9177 650
  • help@aamail.org (email helpline)
  • alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk

Signing up to Togetherall, can also be useful.  Togetherall has a really helpful course about Cutting down your drinking. You can do this course in your own time; it is completely free and confidential as well.  It can be helpful to do whilst you wait for your appointment with the team.

You can sign up by clicking here then selecting ‘I’m from a University or College’, or send an email to wellbeing@sunderland.ac.uk and we can support you in getting registered.

Togetherall also has a safe and supportive community that you can access anonymously, this offers peer-to-peer emotional support, help or guidance from people who may have been in the same situation as you.

Helping others

If you think that a friend or member of your family has a drinking problem, confronting them about it can be difficult and may result in resentment and denial. It is important to avoid trying to bring the subject up in a confrontational way or while your friend is drunk. Your friend needs to come to terms with their problem themselves, but you can help by providing them with information and support in a non-confrontational way.

If they recognise that they have a problem, you can help by:

  • signposting by letting them know about the support that is available such as Alcoholics Anonymous or by submitting a wellbeing referral form to the wellbeing team
  • try to help them understand any underlying problems which is causing them to drink excessively
  • talking about aspects of their behaviour that you think have changed.
  • You can also assist by helping them to set themselves targets or schedules and establish new routines to help them break out of the destructive cycle of drinking.

If they don't or won't recognise their problem and only if it is safe to do so let them know how their drinking is affecting themselves and others and let them have a copy of this leaflet.

Remember that if you are suffering as a result of a friend or family member's drinking problem, then you may need support yourself. Visit Alcoholchange.org.uk to view the family support services available. 

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