Reductions to drinking limits should be realistic, says Swanswell

31 May 2012

Calls for the government’s ‘safe’ drinking guidelines to be revised downwards are being welcomed but should be realistic, says Swanswell.

The national charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding to news this week that a group of researchers are recommending daily drinking limits should be reduced to nearer half a unit of alcohol.

Currently, the government advises drinking no more than 2-3 units of alcohol per day for women and no more than 3-4 units for men – although this is set to be reviewed as part of the 2012 Alcohol Strategy.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘We certainly welcome any attempt to reduce alcohol-related harm and a review of the government’s daily recommended limit is needed.

However, reducing the current guidelines to around half a unit per day would be hard to achieve. It’s difficult enough for people to understand how to work out how many units they’ve had without making things more complicated.

Many still believe that by saving their week’s worth of daily units for the weekend, they’ll be drinking within safe guidelines – they won’t and it’s likely this problem would still continue and advice ignored if a reduced limit wasn’t realistic.

Alcohol isn’t like vegetables – you don’t need to have a minimum amount every day. Yet there are so many mixed messages out there about alcohol use and this will only add to the confusion.

In order to reduce the harm, there needs to be more focus on alcohol education to ensure people understand the risks of drinking regularly or to excess, so they can make their own informed decisions about their alcohol use.

There also needs to be more investment in good quality services that can offer support for people affected by alcohol misuse. Ultimately, tackling alcohol misuse is everyone’s responsibility.’

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