Mayor McClintock says no level of drinking is ‘safe’

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Londonderry boozers are being urged to heed the latest warnings from the Chief Medical Officer about the dangers of excessive drinking as Alcohol Awareness Week officially began today.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Hilary McClintock, stressed the importance of the new guidelines on alcohol consumption which include information on ‘low risk’ drinking as opposed to ‘safe’ or ‘sensible drinking’.

Instead Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride’s findings reveal that no level of drinking alcohol can be regarded as ‘safe’, particularly during pregnancy.

Alderman McClintock said Alcohol Awareness Week, which runs from June 20-26, provided the opportunity for people to review their drinking habits and consider the effect that drinking may be having on their health.

“In order to live a healthy and happy life it’s important that each of us makes informed choices to help improve our health and wellbeing. Being aware of the risks and benefits of alcohol consumption is an important aspect of this, and I would like to take the opportunity that Alcohol Awareness Week affords to highlight again the new alcohol guidelines released by the Chief Medical Officer earlier this year.

“The Chief Medical Officer has highlighted the fact that while it is possible for most people to drink at low risk, not drinking at all, or drinking less than the guidelines, can reduce long-term health risks even further.”

Head of Health and Community Wellbeing with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Seamus Donaghy added his support to the new guidelines. “As Dr McBride noted earlier this year, many people drink alcohol and most do so in ways that do not significantly put them at risk of alcohol related harm.

“The alcohol guidelines help each individual to make informed choices whether to drink alcohol at all, and if so, how much and how often to drink. As Alcohol Awareness Week begins I would encourage people to read the new guidelines so they can take on board the advice before making that decision.”

The new advice also reiterates the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy, stressing that there is no safe level of alcohol to drink when you are pregnant and therefore, pregnant women should avoid alcohol. The information includes a weekly guideline for regular drinking and advice on acceptable levels during single episodes of drinking.

The Chief Medical Officer advises that both men and women avoid regularly drinking more than 14 units per week, to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level. The guidelines stress that if you do drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread this evenly over three days or more. The research also indicates that one or two heavy drinking sessions a week can increase risks of death from long term illnesses and from accidents and injuries. People are also advised to drink more slowly, drink with food, and alternate alcohol with water.

You can access the new Alcohol Guidelines at www.health-ni.gov.uk/news/new-alcohol-guidelines-launched