ABC of Wellbeing for 2013

A is for…

Alcohol.

As a culture we love it. Just think how often we imbibe. I wonder how much has been consumed in the last 24 hours.

As a result of it being highly taxed, annual revenue from alcohol sales is massive and with it generally considered more socially acceptable than smoking, up until quite recently there’s been very little in the press and media about the negative side effects of alcohol (and they don’t all relate to the imbiber either).

Did you know that an estimated 5% of all cancers are related to excessive alcohol consumption? Other alcohol related diseases include heart and brain disease as well as cirrhosis of the liver. This article by Sarah Klien gives more information as well as a detailed infographic detailing how exactly the body is affected by alcohol.

Also of significance but generally less reported are the social side effects of alcohol consumption through different types of alcohol related injuries – think road traumas, falls, violence and accidental deaths.

We tend not to hear so much about these negative effects. More prominently featured are stories relating to the benefits of alcohol. According to Paul Dillon (Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia) its the wine companies themselves who fund this research which gives the findings an interesting perspective. Dillon asserts that there is actually no risk free level of consumption, that all drinking carries risk of permanent damage. Here’s guidelines from the Australian Department of Health and Ageing (2011) about reducing the risk.

My two main concerns relating to alcohol consumption are:

1) that people use it as a means of relaxing. Granted, given the combination of sugar and alcohol (which remember is essentially a depressant), drinking can and does help people feel more relaxed and social. However, using alcohol as a sole means of stress relief is unhealthy and unproductive as it actually does nothing to address the issue that is causing the individual stress in the first place. In fact, given the depressant and potentially dependency inducing nature of alcohol, it can actually make matters worse.

2) the violence that children witness and experience as a result of the adults around them using it. Anyone reading this who has worked with children who have experience alcohol fuelled family violence will understand the devastating effects of  the trauma that these children experience.

In closing today, my suggestion for improving your wellbeing in 2013 relating to ‘A is for Alcohol’ is be mindful of your consumption. Here’s a great little clip called ‘Legend’ (New Zealand Transport Agency) a 12 year old friend introduced me to earlier this week – enjoy!!

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