07:18am Wednesday 20 November 2019

Will you drink too much as the Melbourne Cup, Christmas, and New Year loom?

Australia has a culture of drinking alcohol. It can be associated with almost any event including birthdays, parties, long weekends, Christmas and New Year period. For many individuals, however, the use of alcohol can become their primary way of dealing with stress.

With the recent review of the Australian alcohol guidelines, it is suggested that Australians should consume no more than two standard drinks a day. Exceeding this limit significantly increases a person’s risk of alcohol related illnesses. While driving, a blood-alcohol level of 0.05 doubles one’s risk of having a car crash. At 0.08, one’s risk is seven times higher.

National Surveys show that 10-15% of Australians are drinking at harmful levels, and this trend seems to be on the rise. Alcohol treatment services in the Illawarra are witnessing an overwhelming number of people who are experiencing significant issues related to their alcohol consumption.

Although many men and women are able to keep their drinking within healthy limits, many Australians find this difficult. The consequences of excessive drinking can include missed work, social blunders, arguments, violence, money problems, drink driving and other criminal charges. On top of this, alcohol has cumulative effects on all of the body’s organs, and may lead to serious pain and disability later in life.

Drinking habits are something people learn, be it from their parents, their friends, or society. This means that people can re-learn healthier habits. The Controlled Drinking program at the University of Wollongong aims to assist individuals, who feel that their alcohol consumption may be excessive, to reduce their drinking to safer levels. The program focuses on increasing participants’ awareness of the difficulties with their current drinking patterns, of alternative ways of drinking, of helpful coping strategies, and ways of putting it all into practice.

The Controlled Drinking Program is suitable for individuals who have a mild to moderate dependence on alcohol, and who are free from serious alcohol-related health problems or severe mental illness. Thirty years of research has shown that Controlled Drinking Group programs produce positive results with a reduction in alcohol consumption.

Note: Individuals can self-refer to this program by simply contacting the Northfields Clinic on 4221 3747. Sessions are held during the early evening. Cost for the five- week program is $60 or $45 concession. All participants must attend a pre-group assessment and have a GP health check before the program. The next group begins at 6pm Wednesday 2 November (Northfields Clinic). Pre-group assessments begin 24 October. Media – for further information contact Brie Turner on 0421 453 255 or on the Northfields Clinic general number (02) 4221 3747.

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