Alcohol Awareness Week

Addressing the social cost of alcohol this Alcohol Awareness Week

This week (3-9 July 2023) is Alcohol Awareness Week; an annual campaign designed to raise awareness of alcohol consumption, its impact on society, and changing attitudes towards drinking to help people lead healthier lives.  

Coordinated by Alcohol Change UK, the week brings together communities across the country, from workplaces and charities to community groups and public health teams to address the harm caused by alcohol.

The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Alcohol and cost’. This encompasses not just the wider societal cost of drinking, but the personal costs that come with chronic and excessive alcohol consumption.

According to figures shared by Alcohol Change UK, the economic cost of alcohol consumption is estimated to be at least £21bn per year, with individuals spending an average of £50,000 on alcohol alone over their lifetime.

The personal costs of alcohol consumption are much starker, with death rates increasing, interpersonal relationships under strain, and millions of people suffering with worsening physical and mental health because of harmful drinking

What happens in the body when you drink alcohol?

As an alcohol testing laboratory, with over 15 years’ experience providing alcohol testing services for members of the public, the legal sector, and the workplace sector, we are very familiar with the impact that alcohol can have on the body.

How alcohol affects your body can vary depending on your age, weight, metabolism, and the type of alcohol you have been drinking i.e. beer, wine or spirits.

When you drink alcohol, it is absorbed into the bloodstream, and more than 90% of it is broken down by the liver.

As the alcohol travels to different parts of the body, including the brain, it begins to affect your basic functions including breathing, movement and temperature control.

Short-term effects of alcohol include slurred speed, drowsiness, slower reaction times and impaired memory.

However, people who drink for several hours may experience other effects including paranoia, increased aggression, and mood swings. Alcohol can also lower your inhibitions, leading to increased risk-taking.

Long-term chronic and excessive alcohol consumption over many years has been linked to several serious health complications including alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD), strokes, and certain types of cancer. 

How can I reduce my alcohol intake?

The NHS recommends that men and women consume no more than 14 units of alcohol per week. This is considered ‘low-risk’ drinking.

If you want to gain a better understanding of how much you are drinking this Alcohol Awareness Week, and how you might be able to reduce your intake, it’s important to understand the number of units in different alcoholic drinks.

The NHS provides this handy guide to how many units are in some of the UK’s favourite alcoholic drinks, for you to refer to.

Other helpful ways to reduce your alcohol intake, according to resources provided by Alcohol Change UK, include:

  • Teaming up with a friend to take a break from drinking
  • Finding alcohol-free ways to enjoy yourself such as taking up a new hobby
  • Keeping track of your drinking, making a note of how much you drink throughout the week, and setting goals for yourself
  • Recognising situations where you tend to drink more and making alternative arrangements when you want to cut down your alcohol consumption

Please be aware that if you are struggling with alcohol addiction, reducing your alcohol intake without medical advice might not be right for you.

For this reason, it is recommended that you speak to your GP, who will be able provide advice on safely reducing your alcohol intake.

Where can I get an alcohol test?

As an accredited alcohol testing laboratory, we are well placed to support you with your alcohol testing needs, whether you have concerns about a loved one misusing alcohol, and want a test for peace of mind, or you are a member of the public who requires a legal alcohol test for official matters.

We also offer alcohol testing for legal professionals and social workers, and employers looking to introduce or update an existing substance misuse policy

Our UK laboratory is fully equipped to test a variety of samples for the presence of alcohol including blood, hair, and nails. We also offer point-of-care breath tests, as well as alcohol monitoring using SCRAM CAM®

For more information, contact our friendly and discreet Customer Services team on 0333 600 1300 or email  

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