What’s a Healthy Relationship with Alcohol?
A healthy relationship with alcohol can be different for everyone, and depends on how you feel about your own drinking. Are you making the most of your weekends, living a fulfilling life, or is there any room for improvement here? We support people in finding a balance that works for them – in all stages of their life.
From a medical perspective, Australia’s peak medical advisory body, the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC), is in the process of revising its guidelines for alcohol consumption. Noting that there is no completely safe level of alcohol consumption for everyone, the NHMRC nonetheless offers the following guidelines for minimising harm:
Healthy men and women:
To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury for healthy men and women, drink no more than 14 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day. Note that these revised guidelines, if accepted in the second half of 2020, will reduce that weekly limit from 14 standard drinks per week to 10.
The less you choose to drink, the lower your risk of alcohol-related harm. For some people not drinking at all is the best option.
Children and young people:
To reduce the risk of injury and other harm to health, children and young people under 18 years of age should not drink alcohol.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding:
To reduce the risk of harm to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol. For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest for their baby.
An Unhealthy Relationship with Alcohol
On the flip side, there are a couple of identifiers which may signify that a person has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. If you are worried that you can see a lot of these within yourself, we’d suggest you consider your relationship with alcohol and look at ways you can improve it.
- Using alcohol to cope with uncomfortable situations,life events, feelings or emotions
- Hiding your alcohol use
- Drinking alone
- Alcohol becomes a priority over your responsibilities (e.g. work, school, etc.)
- Experiencing guilt over drinking
- Strained relationships due to your behaviour under the influence of alcohol
- Participating in risky behaviour as a result of drinking (e.g. drink driving, unprotected sex)
- Dependence and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. needing more alcohol to experience the same effects)
- Losing control of your drinking – not being able to stop even if you want to
- Drinking and the after effects (e.g. recovering from a hangover) start to take over your life.
If you believe you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, you may have what we call alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Who Should Avoid Alcohol?
There are a few groups of people who should consider not drinking alcohol at all, due to the increased safety risks to their health and the people around them.
If you are a part of one of these groups of people, it is important to understand or check in with a health professional about what side effects alcohol may cause for you.
- People under 18 years of age.
- Pregnant women, breastfeeding women, or women looking to fall pregnant.
- Former alcohol-dependent individuals, or those with a family history of alcohol dependency.
- People who have taken over-the-counter or prescription medication.
- People suffering from liver, heart or pancreatic diseases.
Our Community’s Relationship with Alcohol
The HSM community is made up of individuals who have variations in their relationship with alcohol. If you want to take a look at their personal stories, and how they’ve managed to go through their relationship, please take a look here: