Al­co­hol, some­thing to think about...

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - LIFESTYLE -

AL­CO­HOL stopped be­ing part of my life ap­prox­i­mately 11 years ago. Ini­tially, it was a tem­po­rary step for a few months to keep my drink­ing in check and af­ter a few months, I re­alised I pre­ferred life with­out it.

I have con­sumed al­co­hol fewer than 10 times since and have lit­tle in­ter­est in it at this stage. I am part of the just over one in 5 adults in Ire­land who don’t drink al­co­hol.

While a mod­er­ate amount of al­co­hol (up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger) is shown to be ben­e­fi­cial for health and well­be­ing, ex­ces­sive or binge drink­ing which is quite com­mon in Ire­land is not.

The book the Blue Zones cham­pi­ons the com­mu­ni­ties around the world where there are max­i­mum num­ber of healthy cen­te­nar­i­ans. Al­co­hol is part of their daily life in many places. The key is that they keep it to one a day which not all of us can.

Al­co­hol con­sump­tion in Ire­land al­most tre­bled be­tween 1960 and 2001, in­creas­ing from an av­er­age of 4.9 litres of pure al­co­hol per per­son aged 15 and over to 14.3 litres. 2017 lev­els were 11.15 litres. It is not just the av­er­age that is of con­cern. It is how and why you drink. Drink­ing to get drunk is com­mon in Ire­land and we have the sec­ond high­est rates of binge drink­ing in the world af­ter Aus­tria.

A re­cent sur­vey on al­co­hol con­sump­tion pat­terns shows that more than 150,000 Ir­ish peo­ple are de­pen­dent drinkers. 1.35 mil­lion are harm­ful drinkers, and 30% of peo­ple in­ter­viewed ad­mit to ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some form of harm as a re­sult of their al­co­hol con­sump­tion. 75% of al­co­hol con­sumed in Ire­land is done as part of binge drink­ing and we un­der­es­ti­mate what we drink by about 60%. (Health Re­search Board)

Harm­ful use of al­co­hol is a causal fac­tor in more than 200 dis­eases and in­jury con­di­tions, in­clud­ing liver cir­rho­sis, heart dis­ease and cancer (WHO). It is re­spon­si­ble for 88 deaths ev­ery month in Ire­land. One in four deaths of men aged 15-39 in Ire­land is due to al­co­hol. It is a fac­tor in half of all sui­cides in Ire­land and in over a third of cases of de­lib­er­ate self-harm. Drink-driv­ing is also a fac­tor in 40 per­cent of all deaths on Ir­ish roads; 1 in 2 pedes­tri­ans killed on roads had con­sumed al­co­hol. Al­co­hol mis­use also leads to sig­nif­i­cant so­cial and eco­nomic losses as it af­fects re­la­tion­ships, fam­ily life, public safety, health­care costs and pro­duc­tiv­ity.

The ar­ti­cle to­day is to get you to look at your own con­sump­tion. Are your con­sump­tion pat­terns healthy and is it en­hanc­ing your well­be­ing, qual­ity of life and re­la­tion­ships or tak­ing from them.

While al­co­hol has a lot of pos­i­tives, few of us use it to its op­ti­mum out­come.

While it can feel strange to not drink or drink less at so­cial oc­ca­sions, af­ter a few events, you be­come used to it. Over the years I have met many peo­ple who have cut back or cut out al­co­hol. I have never met any­one that re­grets do­ing so. For some it is an eas­ier thing to do and oth­ers sig­nif­i­cantly more dif­fi­cult.

There are many or­gan­i­sa­tions and peo­ple that can help. Do­ing it brings con­fi­dence and many other good feel­ings. It can also solve or pre­vent other prob­lems harm­ful drink­ing cre­ates and free you to fo­cus on what is im­por­tant in life – which is liv­ing it.


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