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Excessive Alcohol Consumption

The drinking of alcohol is a widespread leisure activity. Alcohol’s popularity stems from its effects on the central nervous system, allowing the drinker to  become less inhibited (The American Psychiatric Association 2000). Alcohol is also a muscle relaxant, explaining the sense of relaxation that can  accompany its consumption.

The quantity of alcohol consumed among the British population is on the increase and binge drinking is proving to be of great concern (Pincock 2003). 

It has been estimated that approximately 90% of the adult population will indulge in the drinking of alcohol to some extent. Studies have shown that there are also an increasing number of children between the ages of thirteen to sixteen who are taking up drinking (Becker et al 2006).

Safe drinking limit


  • It is the amount and not the type of alcohol consumed that can be dangerous to a person’s health.


Alcohol is measured in units, and currently the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines indicate that the safe weekly levels of consumption are:

14 units for men and women a week
Dependent on the percentage of alcohol contained within each drink:
6 pints of 4% beer / lager a week
6  glasses (175ml) of 13% wine  
14 glasses (25ml) of 40% spirit 

Consequences of excessive alcohol consumption

Alcohol is a poison and the effects experienced when ‘tipsy’ or drunk are the direct result of the toxic effect it has on the various systems of the body (The American Psychiatric Association 2000). The more alcohol consumed over prolonged periods of time the greater are the consequences to the long-term health of the drinker. These include:

  • increased risk of developing heart disease

  • increased risk of developing cancer

  • increased risk of death or injury due to accidents

  • cirrhosis of the liver

  • gastritis

  • hypertension

  • Korsakoff’s syndrome (similar to Alzheimers’ disease)

  • impotence

  • loss of libido

  • reduction in fertility



The words ‘alcoholism’ and ‘alcoholic’ are vague and can cover a wide range of meanings.
Despite the fact that they are still in common usage, most authorities now refer to one of four terms to describe the abuse of alcohol (Gelder et al 2003):

  • excessive alcohol consumption

Used when the consumption of alcohol is consistently above the recommended weekly limits.


  • alcohol abuse

Used when physical, mental, or social harm results from the excessive consumption of alcohol.


  • alcohol dependence

Used when there is a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol.

  • problem drinking

Applied to those whom drinking has caused an alcohol-related disorder or disability.

Indicators that alcohol consumption is a problem

This is by no means an exhaustive list.
Diagnosis of drinking problems MUST be made by a qualified medical practitioner.

  • Missing work because of drinking

  • Finding it hard to stop drinking

  • Feeling angry about drinking

  • Neglecting personal appearance

  • Becoming irritable, violent, or experiencing mood swings

  • Binge drinking after abstention

  • An ability to drink increasing amounts before getting drunk (tolerance)

  • A need to drink frequently to get through the day

  • An inability to stop drinking or cut down

  • Drinking alone

  • Lying about drinking, or hiding drink or drinking behaviour

  • Memory blackout for events that occurred whilst drinking

  • Shaking in the morning

  • Loss of appetite or poor diet

  • Abdominal cramps

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Numbness or tingling in parts of the body


The causes of excessive drinking


  • Habit

Excessive drinking can be the result of habitual behaviours. For example, habitually having a couple of glasses of wine a night with your evening meal along with a glass of spirit before going to bed will place a person above the recommended weekly limit
(Gelder et al 2003).


  • Psychological

Alcohol is an anaesthetic. It not only reduces physical pain, but will reduce emotional pain too. In effect it can provide a psychological release from stress, relationship difficulties, and past trauma. The drinker using alcohol to escape from emotions or memories has developed a dysfunctional coping strategy (Gelder et al 2003).

Hypnotherapy for Alcohol Issues 

The majority of individuals who come for hypnotherapy, for over consumption of alcohol, will do so because an event in their life will have forced them to confront their problematic drinking behaviour. For example:

  • health issues

  • relationship issues

  • criminal proceedings

  • a readiness to deal with the underlying problem

N.B. If someone is dependent on alcohol (as diagnosed by their doctor) then hypnotherapy should only be undertaken AFTER the withdrawal phase of recovery.

Hypnotherapy could help by dealing with underlying causes of the habit and help in managing stress or resolving trauma. If self esteem, anger or peace of mind is an issue then research has shown that hypnosis can be a helpful approach (Pekala, Ronald J., et al.2004)

If you would like to reduce your drinking with hypnotherapy, call me now on 07472 134824 to book a session or to discuss whether hypnotherapy is right for you.

The American Psychiatric Association (2000) DSM-IV-TR: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders The American Psychiatric Association

Becker E, Blenkinsop S, Constantine R, Hills A, McGee A, Ringham L and Sinclair R (2006) Drug
use, smoking and drinking among young people in England in 2005 The Information Centre

Gelder M, Lopez-Ibor JJ and Andreasen N (2003) New Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry Oxford University Press

Pekala RJ, Maurer R, Kumar VK, Elliott NC, Masten E, Moon E and Salinger M (2004) Self-hypnosis
relapse prevention training with chronic drug/alcohol users: effects on self-esteem, affect, and relapse
American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 46 (4) 281-297

Pincock S (2003) Binge drinking on rise in UK and elsewhere The Lancet 36 (9390): 1126-1127

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