(July 2010) by Dr Bruce Sutherland

Whilst a glass of red wine at night can be a good thing, too much of a good thing can be harmful.

How much is harmful? It is estimated that up to 16% of people who consult a GP drink unsafe levels of alcohol. Being an unsafe drinker does not make you an alcoholic but it can mean you have a problem.

A unit is 8 grams or 10mL of pure alcohol. This equates to a small (125mL) glass of wine, or 250mL of beer (less than a small bottle). The recommended safe alcohol limit for men is 21 units per week, and for women it is 14 units per week (with no more than 8 units per session for men and 6 units for women).

1 or 2 alcohol free days per week are recommended. If this is difficult, then ask yourself if your drinking has become habitual.

Consider the “CAGE” questionnaire, and ask yourself these questions:

C – Have you ever thought you should CUT DOWN your drinking?

A – Have you every felt ANNOYED by others criticism of your drinking?

G – Ever felt GUILTY about your drinking?

E – Have you ever had an early morning EYE OPENER?

If you have answered positive to any one or more of these questions, then you are at risk of suffering from problems with the four Ls:

  • LIVER
  • LOVER
  • LIVELIHOOD
  • LAW
  • LIVER – Includes any health problems related to alcohol like unwanted sex, accidents, indigestion, high blood pressure, obesity.

    LOVER – Relates to any family or relationship problems due to your drinking. Relationship breakups, divorce, domestic violence, etc.

    LIVELIHOOD – Relates to poor work performance, discipline issues, demotion, days off work due to hang-over.

    LAW – Legal problems such as assault charges or drink driving convictions.

    So, are you drinking too much?