THIS week (13-19 November) is Alcohol Awareness Week and specialist staff from Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are urging people to think about the impact that their drinking has on their health and on their family.
Helen Phillips, specialist alcohol nurse at Hampshire Hospitals, which runs Basingstoke and North Hospital, Royal Hampshire County Hospital, in Winchester, and Andover War Memorial Hospital, said: “Modern technology and shopping habits mean that alcohol is becoming more accessible and affordable than ever before.
“There’s nearly always an excuse to have a drink or two, whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary, the end of the week or a big football match on the television. Many people also see alcohol as a coping strategy to combat stress and anxiety or help them to sleep.
“What people don’t always realise is that their drinking adds up and can have a detrimental effect on their health, as well as impacting on their partners, children, parents and other loved ones.”
Alcohol-related illness and injury puts a large strain on the NHS. Alcohol is the second-biggest risk factor for cancer, with only smoking resulting in a larger risk, while liver disease is one of the few major causes of premature mortality on the increase, with deaths going up by 40 per cent over the last decade.
In addition, up to 70 per cent of weekend admissions to emergency departments can be attributed to alcohol. With this in mind, staff in the emergency department at Basingstoke hospital will be asking about alcohol intake and will offer specialist support if it is required.
Alcohol specialist nurses from the Trust will be available to talk to people concerned about their alcohol intake at Basingstoke and Winchester hospitals throughout the week.
In addition to giving people tips on lowering their risk of alcohol harm and explaining how to calculate units of alcohol, the nurses will also be able to show people their life-sized silicon livers, which illustrate the effects of alcohol on the liver.
If you are worried that you might be drinking too much, visit https://dontbottleitup.org.uk to take a two-minute alcohol test. Small changes to your drinking habits and daily routine can have a positive impact on your health all round.