Alcohol Awareness Week is taking place from 15th to 21st November 2021. With around one in five people currently drinking in a way that could harm their liver health, the week provides an opportunity to reassess and transform our everyday drinking habits.
The theme for this year’s event is Alcohol and relationships. Alcohol can affect our relationships in all sorts of ways and can have a negative impact on our own health and wellbeing, and that of those we love. We may not think of it in this way, but alcohol is a psychoactive substance which means that it can radically change the way we think and feel.
Signs that alcohol may be negatively affecting your relationship
- Alcohol is playing a key role in your relationship: Many people drink with people who are close to them. But if alcohol is at the centre of your romantic relationships, friendships or relationships with family members, this can become damaging over time as you may find you’re unable to have a good time together without alcohol.
- Your drinking is causing conflict: Alcohol can affect mood and decision-making. Regular arguments about your own or your partner’s drinking is also a tell-tale sign that alcohol has become a significant factor in your relationship. Alcohol-fuelled arguments can be particularly upsetting for children in the household; some children will feel frightened by their parent’s drinking, others embarrassed or left feeling neglected. Alcohol is never an excuse for domestic abuse.
- You are hiding or being dishonest about your drinking: If you’re hiding how much and how often you drink from your loved ones, or pretending to drink less than the reality, then this can cause trust problems in your relationships.
- Your sex life is less fulfilling: Whilst alcohol can sometimes increase sexual desire in the moment, it can also result in erectile dysfunction (i.e. make it difficult to have or keep an erection), limit or prevent ejaculation, and can cause vaginal dryness in some women due to the dehydrating effects of alcohol. It can also reduce sensation and impact on the quality of your communication, leading to a less fulfilling sex life, putting strain on an intimate relationship.
You can find out more about how drinking can affect our relationships, and the signs that alcohol may be negatively affecting your relationships in this blog.
Pamela Healy, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust, says: “Our advice is to try to stick to the Government guidelines, which advise that we should drink no more than 14 units a week, spread over several days, with two or three consecutive alcohol-free days to give the liver a chance to recover.
“If you find that you drink more during times of stress, it’s a good idea to find other, healthier ways to relax, like listening to your favourite music, having a bath or even doing some exercise.
“Remember that if you are dependent on alcohol, stopping drinking suddenly can be very dangerous, so speak to your GP for help with cutting down gradually. If you are worried or finding it difficult to cope, please do call our nurses on the British Liver Trust’s free helpline. You may find it helpful to join a British Liver Trust support group, as other members will be able to share their experiences and give you support.”
On 17th November, the British Liver Trust is holding a webinar about alcohol-related liver disease. During this webinar, a gastroenterologist will explain the different stages of alcohol-related liver disease and how the condition is detected, diagnosed and managed, and a patient will share their journey. There will also be a focus on the impact that COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns have had on people and the health services that support them. You can sign up for the webinar here.
Alcohol and liver disease
Although there are many causes of liver disease, in the UK excess alcohol consumption is the most common cause, accounting for around 60% of all cases. There are often no symptoms of alcohol-related liver disease in the early stages, and when symptoms do appear they can be vague, such as feeling tired and a loss of appetite. Unfortunately, this means that in many cases alcohol-related liver disease is only diagnosed at a later stage when significant damage has already been done and treatment options are limited.
As part of the British Liver Trust’s campaign for earlier diagnosis of liver disease, Sound The Alarm, the charity is calling for every patient with alcohol-related liver disease to have access to an alcohol care team. You can find out more about how we’re making this happen and show your support.