New figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest South Africans drink too much. According the WHO’s annual global status report on alcohol and health for 2018, South Africans consume an average of 30 litres of alcohol in a single year. That’s a lot!
From doctors’ visits to medication and even rehabilitation, medical costs are increasing due in part to drinking. Hospitalisation due to drunk driving incidents or even accidents due to drunk pedestrians are also on the rise.
“We have seen an increase in anxiety and depression which correlates closely to excessive abuse of alcohol and other substances,” says Craig Comrie, CE and Principal Officer at Profmed.
Alcohol consumption is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions, states the WHO. Drinking alcohol is associated with a risk of developing health problems such as mental and behavioural disorders, including alcohol dependence, major non-communicable diseases such as liver cirrhosis, some cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
In fact, the WHO attributes three million deaths every year, worldwide, to the harmful use of alcohol. It is to blame for 18% of suicides, 27% of traffic injuries and 18% of interpersonal violence cases in the world.
Many people use alcohol as a way to deal with stress, but, says Craig, better options are:
- Regular exercise
- Enough, restful sleep every night
- Productive hobbies
- A stable support structure
Tips For Drinking Less
You might not want to give up alcohol completely, but if you feel like cutting back, here’s how…
How much are you actually drinking? See sadd.org.za for information on the recommended daily limits.
You know how dieters are told to eat from a smaller plate? The same applies to alcohol – buy smaller glasses (125ml) for home and you’ll likely spread a 750ml bottle over a few days rather than pouring a third into a large 250ml glass. When out, order small again (or a single shot of spirit), and challenge yourself to make it last.
Pace and space
It’s the mantra if you’re cutting back – drink slowly and intersperse with non-alcoholic drinks.
Rules that suit you
Examine when you’re drinking and consider changing the situation. What about a rule that you’ll only drink at home if eating dinner? Or maybe you can attend the weekly after-work drinks every fortnight instead?
It won’t ‘go off’
That slug of wine left in the bottle really won’t go bad if you leave it another day or two. Get a good bottle stopper. Or, better still, pour it into an ice-cube tray, freeze and use for cooking. It saves you opening a new bottle when a recipe calls for wine.
If you think you may need help to stop drinking, visit aasouthafrica.org.za.
By Health Writer, Belinda dos Santos