A New Year's Resolution - be smart about your drinking!

Now 2012 has arrived, the Public Health Agency is encouraging people to make a New Year's resolution to know their limits when it comes to alcohol, not to drink excessively and to cut back for a while, especially if the festive period led to a little too much consumption.Owen O'Neill, PHA Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager and drugs and alcohol lead, explained: "The New Year is a great opportunity for us to be positive about our health, making resolutions that make us look and feel better. If people choose to drink, staying within the safe drinking limits is important. Excessive and binge drinking can have lasting effects on health, such as damage to the liver, heart, brain and stomach. Drinking too much can also increase the risk of accidents and antisocial behaviour as well as sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy. And it doesn't have to be drinking to extremes - regularly drinking over the recommended limits can have a damaging effect."Remember that for each unit you drink over the daily limit, the risk to your health increases. It's important to spread the units throughout the week and not 'save' them for the weekend and to drink plenty of water, ideally matching the amount of alcohol you have consumed."For those who have consumed a lot of alcohol over the festive season, cutting back in the New Year and being careful can have immediate, positive effects particularly on helping you to look and feel better, being less tired during the day, feeling fitter and perhaps losing weight. Longer term, the benefits include improved mood, sleep, memory and general health, particularly improving liver function, immunity to illness and preventing any damage caused by any excessive drinking getting any worse."Daily alcohol limits are recommended by the government to avoid the dangers of excessive and binge drinking in any one session. These are:MenNo more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol a day and no more than 21 units over the course of the week.WomenNo more than 2 to 3 units of alcohol a day and no more than 14 units over the course of the week.Examples of units:Can of extra strong lager - 4 unitsBottle of lager - 1.5 unitsSmall pub bottle of wine - 2.25 unitsPub measure of spirits - 1.5 unitsPint of stout - 2.5 unitsPint of cider - 3 unitsFor further information on sensible drinking and alcohol units visit the Public Health Agency's website www.knowyourlimits.info
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