Alfresco Alcohol: Tips for safer drinking

With temperatures in the UK rising, summer advice for outdoor drinkies…

As the sun shines bright, and temperatures rise, many of us will now be heading to our local beer garden, parks and even our own gardens to soak up the sunshine and enjoy some alcoholic drinks with friends, family and colleagues.

For some, however, a combination of hot weather and lighter evenings can lead to the urge to drink excessively, as they partake in the increased socialisation the much welcomed sunshine brings with it.

Bearing this in mind, as part of their UK Addiction Report 2022, we’ve asked the specialists at Delamere Health, Cheshire, to compile a list of safer drinking tips, to use as a guideline to ensure your health and safety remain intact while enjoying the perks of the great British summertime:

  • Follow the safer drinking medical recommendations

The Chief Medical Officers low-risk drinking guidelines state that regardless of age or gender,  you should consume no more than 14 alcoholic units a week and that these units should be spread out evenly over seven days.

To put this in real terms, 14 units is the equivalent to 6 pints of standard 4% lager, 6 standard glasses of 13% abv wine or 14 shots of a spirit. If you follow the safer drinking medical recommendations, you can still enjoy alcohol without the risks associated with drinking too much.

  • Try to incorporate alcohol-free days during summer months 

During periods of extended sunshine and warm weather, there always seems an ‘excuse’ or ‘reason’ to have a drink every day. It is essential to have alcohol free days to give your liver a rest and allow your body to flush out alcohol’s toxins.

Drinking daily, especially when more than a couple of units, causes your liver to work less efficiently. The more alcohol you consume, the bigger its toll on your body, resulting in you feeling sluggish and suffering from a low mood.

  • Avoid drinking on an empty stomach.

Eating a decent meal before drinking will slow down the absorption of alcohol. You will also be inclined to drink less if your stomach is already full.

Alcoholic drinks such as wine and spirits are very acidic and can cause harm to your stomach’s lining when consumed on an empty stomach or in large amounts.

  • Opt for low alcohol or alcohol-free drinks

Instead of automatically reaching for whatever alcoholic drink is available to feel included in any sunshine celebrations, try introducing some mocktails (alcohol-free cocktails). There are many kits and recipes out there where you can experiment. Make it fun by challenging friends you’re attending a BBQ or event with to produce the tastiest mocktail. This will take the focus off alcohol, and you may even find a drink that you prefer over alcoholic beverages.

  • If you are drinking – do not drive.

Drink driving causes many fatal accidents every year. If you have consumed alcohol the night before a work day, remember that it takes the liver, on average, 1 hour to process 1 unit of alcohol. When you binge drink, it takes even longer as the liver struggles to cope with the backlog of alcoholic units.

Driving the morning after and in some cases, even the next day, could still mean you’re over the drink driving limit. If you want an alcohol-free day, volunteering to be the designated driver is the perfect excuse not to drink.

  • Take steps to ensure your safety whilst drinking. 

When we drink alcohol, our inhibitions and sense of judgement are impaired. This can easily lead to making spur of the moment decisions that are later regretted. If you are going out drinking, make sure that someone knows where you are, what time to expect you back and that you have pre-arranged a safe mode of transport home. This applies to both men and women. Both sexes are very vulnerable whilst under the influence of alcohol.

  • BYOSD (Bring your own soft drink)

If you have a gathering lined up, bring your own soft drink. You can then either stick to drinking these or alternate between alcoholic beverages. Don’t rely on others to provide you with an alternative to alcohol. It is always best to be prepared and take your own. If you are worried family will pressurise you into drinking more than you would like, it is very unlikely that they will even notice or care if you are alternating or drinking a zero alcohol alternative.

  • Avoid stocking up on alcohol. 

Traditionally many people stock up on vast amounts of alcohol just before the Spring and Summer season to have a selection of different alcoholic drinks for sitting out in the sun or barbequing in the evening.

The risk of this is that there will be a constant supply of alcohol in your home that will be all too easy to drink. You are also much more likely to mix your drinks, leading to losing control of the amount of alcohol you consume. Instead, choose drinks that are of standard strength in units and a selection of non-alcoholic options that you can alternate with.

  • Avoid ‘preloading’ before going out 

Preloading is a term used whereby someone drinks alcohol at home to get themselves in the party mood before going out. This can be very dangerous and easily lead to a night of binge drinking and the risks that come with it.

Instead, make sure that you are well-rested, well-hydrated and have eaten a decent meal in preparation. You are much more likely to keep track of the amount of alcohol you consume this way.

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