How much am I drinking?

As alcoholic drinks are of different strengths and sizes, it can be hard to work out how much you are drinking. To help with this we think of the alcohol content of drinks in ‘units’.  The number of units in some popular drinks is shown below.

If you have had a mild head injury it is important to know how much you are drinking. The website has a really helpful unit calculator which makes this very easy.

In the UK, on the basis of research undertaken by health professionals, the government recommends that healthy men and women shouldn’t regularly drink more than 14 units a week. This should be spread through the week with some alcohol free days. Research has shown that though no level of alcohol consumption is without harm, drinking more than this recommended maximum is associated with a marked increase risk of health problems such as cancer and high blood pressure. If you have had a mild head injury however, because of the symptoms you may already have any alcohol use can be problematic. For these reasons it may be best to avoid alcohol completely in the days and weeks after a mild head injury.

Do I Have an Alcohol Problem?

Now you know how much you drink it is important to think about whether you have an alcohol problem. The DrinkAware site has another useful tool to help answer this. It calculates your risk level and on the basis of this provides advice and suggests resources which may be of help. Remember however that this assessment is based on people being otherwise healthy. As you have had a mild head injury even if this risk calculator doesn’t suggest significant risk you may still be best avoiding alcohol at the moment.

Alcohol dependence is the most severe form of alcohol use problem. Though severe it is fairly common however, it being estimated that 9% of men in the UK are alcohol dependent. Though people who are alcohol dependent obviously need to stop drinking, if they are severely dependent simply suddenly stopping taking alcohol can be dangerous. In these people the habitual use of alcohol has caused compensatory changes in their brain, meaning if they suddenly stop they can develop seizures or confusion with hallucinations (delirium tremens). People at risk of these problems will be drinking large amounts of alcohol every day, and generally experience shakes and sweats in the morning before they have their first drink. If your alcohol problem is this severe then you must see your doctor and discuss with them if you need to be prescribed medication to enable you to stop drinking safely.

I think I have an alcohol problem, but don’t think I want to stop drinking at the moment

Strategies for drinking less out and about

Is there any help out there?