As Dry January gets underway, Kent residents are reminded of the simple online quiz ‘Know Your Score’ that can get them advice from the experts, direct to their desktop.
The majority of the Kent population (79%) drink sensibly and in safe limits (scoring less than seven on AUDIT – an alcohol risk score) but approximately 254,000 people are drinking at higher risk levels. There are an estimated 16,000 dependent drinkers in Kent in need of some treatment and support.
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure and also trigger an irregular heartbeat, both of which increase the risk of having a stroke. Heavy drinking increases the risk of having a stroke by more than three times. By drinking sensibly and to the recommended limits you will reduce your risk of having a stroke.
Kent specialist treatment services can help those in serious risk of harm, and last year around 2,100 people were receiving help from specialist support services. A range of formal and informal support is available, such as AA and Smart Recovery (peer support) in Kent and Al-anon for friends, family and carers of alcoholics.
KCC Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark warns that many people simply are not aware of how much they are drinking. He said: “The KCC ‘Know Your Score’ interactive online test – www.kent.gov.uk/knowyourscore – can help give some initial guidance by asking users a series of simple questions to help them gauge how much alcohol they are consuming and the effects it could have on their health, in both the short and long-term. Depending on their score, appropriate key messages and vital advice about where to find help are then delivered by different experts and health professionals.
“It may be that you discover you need further support to bring your drinking levels down. We commission a range of services and work closely with agencies from across health, community and voluntary sectors to get people the help and treatment they need. We encourage employers, organisations and health services to help us to spread the message about the recommended drinking levels so that people can get access to specialist support and treatment for those who need it. We also have lifestyle services in the community that can support people if they need further help to cut back. Services like One You Kent.”
KCC Public Health commissions two providers – CGL in west Kent and Forward Trust in east Kent – to inform the public about the potential consequences of misusing alcohol and to provide treatment options to help individuals make healthy, informed decisions about their lives.
For more information on the treatment, support and recovery services available, go to www.kent.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/health/alcohol-and-drug-support or for help and advice about small changes you can make to improve your health and wellbeing, and to find more support in your area regarding your lifestyle, see www.oneyoukent.org.uk
If you’re aged 40 to 74-years-old, you can also sign up for an NHS Health Check for advice on keeping yourself healthy and active. Your blood pressure, height and weight will be checked. You will be given a small finger prick test to check your blood cholesterol and you’ll also be asked some questions about your lifestyle and family history. The check will identify the risk of you developing heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes or dementia in the future. Find out more at www.oneyoukent.org.uk (search for Health Checks) or call 0300 123 1220 (option 4) to find a clinic near you.
Note to editors:
The Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines recommend that to keep health risks from alcohol to a low level, it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days. If you have one or two heavy drinking episodes a week, you increase your risk of death from long-term illness and injuries.
There is also the reminder that one pint of strong beer or cider equals three units, as does a large glass (250ml) of wine. A small glass of wine (175ml) amounts to two units while a bottle of beer can mean 1.5 units but these can all vary depending on the alcoholic strength of the drink.