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Getting help to cut alcohol

Richard started drinking a few glasses of red wine in the evening to relax and pass the time.

But gradually a couple of glasses turned into a bottle – and then two.

Without realising it Richard, a 51-year-old professional, was soon drinking 126 units a week – four and a half times more than the recommended level for men.

Richard, who does not what to be fully identified, said: “It’s always at home that I drink. It started out of boredom and having nothing else to do.

“I’m lucky, I don’t feel ill with it, get violent or get a hangover but I know it’s not good for my health. I’m worried about liver disease.”

Richard’s drinking was adding around 1,200 calories a day to his diet, more than half the recommended daily intake.

His body was getting more and more used to alcohol, meaning it took more drink for him to feel relaxed.

He piled on a stone-and-a-half and was spending more than £200 a month on his habit.

He said: “I’m not sure it is an addiction. I don’t crave drink. But when I get up in the morning I think ‘I’m not going to drink today’ but then I end up nipping out to the shop for wine in the evening.”

Richard realised his health could be seriously damaged. He felt guilty, hid the extent of his drinking from his partner and friends, but resolved to seek help.

First he tried private hypnotherapy but didn’t find it appropriate.

An internet search directed him to Nottingham-based APAS, which helps people with alcohol problems.

By filling in a weekly drink diary and sticking to targets set with APAS experts, Richard has now cut his drinking by a half.

“In the first week I cut it down by a third. It works because it’s cutting back gradually. It’s very simple goals that are agreed and can be met.

“I go fortnightly and I’ve talked to three different people. Sometimes it’s helpful to speak to different people as they bring different things out of you.

“Talking to friends and family can be difficult. Often they can be critical and negative rather then constructive and supportive.”

And he already feels better.

“I have more energy when I’ve drunk less and I want to lose the weight. It also works out to be expensive and I want to save the money.

“The drinking made me feel guilty about my partner and the worry it was causing her and my family, so it’s good to be cutting it down,” he said.

Richard’s Decade of Better Health pledge is to cut his daily intake down until it is within recommended levels – around two standard glasses of wine for a man.

He said: “I’d say to anyone in my position that they should talk about it. Realise there’s a problem and get free and confidential support. It’s only you who can change it.”

The Decade of Better Health campaign wants people to make changes to their drinking habits to cut the number drink-related hospital admissions.

Dr Joanna Copping, consultant in public health medicine at NHS Nottingham City said: “In Nottingham City most people enjoy alcohol, but one in four are drinking too much without even realising it.

“Small changes in drinking habits can make a real difference to individuals and their families.”

source: This is Nottingham

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