alcohol awareness

Alcohol addiction continues to be an issue on both a national and global scale. In their lifetime, one in every 12 adults – or 17.6 million people – will suffer from an alcohol use disorder or develop dependence on alcohol. [1]

Statistics like these are what make Alcohol Awareness Month so important. With its slogan “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow”, this year’s initiative aims to reduce the stigma associated with alcohol addiction by offering information, support and guidance.

Alcohol Awareness Month was founded and sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. To do our bit for Alcohol Awareness Month 2019, we’re here with further information to raise awareness of exactly what impact alcohol can have on your health.

Alcohol and your body

Alcohol and sleep

Many adults use alcohol to help them fall asleep, but while it can make you fall asleep fast, it also contributes to poorer quality sleep overall.[2] Drinking can aggravate breathing problems, block REM sleep and interrupt your circadian rhythm.

Alcohol and sexual function

One 2007 study found that 72% of male participants experienced sexual dysfunction, most notably premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. The amount of alcohol consumed was the most significant factor in determining sexual problems.[3]

Alcohol and urine

Most drinkers are familiar with the sensation of ‘breaking the seal’, which occurs because alcohol is a diuretic. This means it acts on your kidneys and makes you pee out more than you take in. In fact, for every 1g of alcohol consumed, urine excretion increases by 10ml.[4] This can cause significant levels of dehydration.

Alcohol and blood pressure

Drinking too much can also impact your cardiovascular health, leading to a range of symptoms including high blood pressure. A 2013 study found that 16% of hypertension problems in the US are linked to excessive alcohol consumption.[5]

Alcohol and migraines

The NHS lists alcohol as one of the significant dietary triggers for migraines.[6] These can be hugely painful and debilitating headaches, often striking regularly throughout one’s life. You can find effective migraine medication at Express Pharmacy.

Alcohol and disease

Alcohol and liver disease

Currently, one in five people in the UK drink alcohol to a level which could harm their liver. This can lead to conditions like a build-up of fat in the liver, hepatitis and even cirrhosis, which affects one in 10 people who drink harmful amounts.[7]

Alcohol and cancer

Along with smoking, alcohol is one of the biggest preventable causes of cancer. Alcohol can cause up to 7 kinds of cancer, including breast cancer, liver cancer and bowel cancer.[8]

Alcohol and diabetes

There are several risk factors associated with Type 2 diabetes, including family history, age, weight and ethnic background. However, alcohol is another significant factor. Not only can it lead to weight gain, but excessive intake is also associated with an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.[9]

Alcohol and heart disease

There is a very clear link between alcohol and high blood pressure. Over time, excessive alcohol can put further strain on the heart leading to cardiovascular disease, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke.[10]

Alcohol and your appearance

Alcohol and physical appearance

Alcoholism can have a significant impact on your physical appearance. Factors like personal hygiene and general grooming can suffer, but excessive drinking can also lead to poor complexion, dark under-eye circles, dehydration, tiredness and an overall more haggard appearance.[11]

Alcohol and ‘beer bellies’

Drink large amounts of beer has been linked to both weight gain and an increase in belly fat. In fact, one study found that men who drank more than three drinks a day were 80% more likely to have a lot of belly fat.[12]

Alcohol and weight management

Alcohol and food equivalents

The average wine drinker takes in 2000kcal from alcohol every month, while drinking 5 pints a week for a year adds up to 44,000kcal. The NHS offers an insight into the calorie content and food equivalents of some of the UK’s most popular drinks. For example:

  • One standard glass of wine (126kcal) = 1 Cadbury Chocolate Mini Roll
  • One pint of 5% strength beer (215kcal) = 1 packet of McCoy’s salted crisps[13]

Alcohol and weight loss

As well as containing significant amounts of calories, alcohol can also prevent weight loss by lowering inhibitions, making a take away or a chocolate bar seem much more appealing. It can also make you less likely to exercise.[14]

You can find safe and effective weight loss medication at Express Pharmacy.

Alcohol and mental health

Alcoholism and dependence

Alcoholism is the most serious form of drinking problem. It describes a strong desire to drink which often can’t be controlled. For alcoholics, drinking takes priority over all obligations including work and family. It usually develops as instances of harmful drinking, or binge drinking, become more and more regular.[15]

Alcohol and anxiety

While alcohol may sedate anxiety in the short term, in the long term it can make it worse. This is true even for moderate amounts of alcohol. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that 20% of people with a social anxiety disorder also suffer from alcohol dependence.[16]

Alcohol and aggression

When we’re drunk, we’re more likely to misinterpret other people’s behaviour and react to things emotionally rather than logically. Alcohol reduces our ability to think straight, hence why aggression and alcohol are so closely linked. Binge drinking increases our chances of both being aggressive and being the subject of someone else’s aggression.[17]

Alcohol withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms are almost always an aspect of alcohol dependence and are a clear sign that you are drinking too much. They may include physical symptoms like sweating, nausea and tremors, as well as psychological symptoms such as depression, irritability, anxiety and insomnia.[18]

Alcohol and depression

Depression is a common mental health concern, affecting one in five of us in our lifetime.[19] Drinking can make depression more likely. Over time, regular drinking lowers your levels of serotonin, the brain chemical that helps to regulate your mood, making you more susceptible to depression.[20] What’s more, drinking can create a vicious cycle whereby your relationships, work life and social life all suffer, which again can make depression more likely to occur.

Managing alcohol dependence can be a long and difficult road to navigate, but it isn’t one you should suffer alone. Speak to those around you or arrange an appointment with a GP to start making positive changes to your life today – one step at a time.

If you have any queries or concerns about your health, contact Express Pharmacy today. We offer access to effective medication easily and discreetly. Get in touch today using our Live Chat service or by calling 0208 123 07 03.


[1] Facing Addiction. Alcohol Awareness Month — April 2019. 2019

[2] National Sleep Foundation. How Alcohol Affects the Quality — and Quantity — Of Sleep. 2018

[3] Aracknal, B.S., Benegal, V. Prevalence of sexual dysfunction in male subjects with alcohol dependence. 2007

[4] Drink Aware. Why Does Alcohol Make You Pee More? 2018

[5] Loyke, H.F., MD. Five Phases of Blood Pressure in Alcoholics. 2013

[6] NHS. Migraines. 2019

[7] British Liver Trust. Alcohol and Liver Disease. 2019

[8] Cancer Research UK. Does alcohol cause cancer? 2018

[9] Diabetes UK. Alcohol and diabetes. 2018

[10] British Heart Foundation. Effects of alcohol on your heart. 2017

[11] Alcohol Awareness. What are the physical signs of alcoholism? 2016

[12] Schröder, H. et al. Relationship of abdominal obesity with alcohol consumption at population scale. 2007

[13] NHS. Calories in Alcohol. 2016

[14] Drink Aware. How does alcohol affect weight loss? 2017

[15] Drink Aware. What is alcoholism? 2019

[16] Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Social Anxiety Disorder and Alcohol Abuse. 2018

[17] Home Office. Violence in the night-time economy: key findings from the research. 2004

[18] Drink Aware. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms. 2017

[19] Royal College of Psychiatrists. Depression. 2019

[20] Pietraszek, M.H. et al. Alcohol-induced depression involvement in serotonin. 1991