The Benefits of Cutting Down on Alcohol

In the UK, we drink a lot. More than most countries in Europe. We don’t just drink a lot, we drink in dangerous ways. Binge drinking is not as popular as it was, but the hundreds of thousands of hospital admissions for alcohol related injury or disease speaks volumes of the continuing appeal of excessive drinking.

No to alcohol

Cutting down on your drinking can only be a good thing. A lot of people say they can and they will, but drinking is enjoyable, relaxing, and addictive, so it is hard to get away from.

Hopefully, this short summary of the benefits will help you motivate yourself to make the right choices.

Be Healthier

Ethanol, the active ingredient in alcoholic drinks, is toxic. It reacts with our bodies and destroys cells. The liver is very good at processing it but it cannot do it much without becoming damaged itself. Too much alcohol causes the liver to harden and stop functioning. Eventually, the patient needs a liver transplant. Lists are long: many people die before they ever get a new liver. People who do not drink are given precedence over those who drink, so you will be at the bottom of the list for new livers.

Alcohol is also carcinogenic: it causes cancer. Mouth cancer is the most common form of alcohol-related cancer. You could lose your tongue or your jaw. Maybe all your teeth and gums. Mouth cancer can spread and kill you. Another cancer caused by alcohol is oesophageal cancer. You do not have many nerves in your oesophagus, so you do not feel the cancer until it is too late. Survival rates are very low. Then there is colorectal cancer, which has low survival rates as well. Even if you do survive, you will be missing large parts of your intestines and rectum. This is not a pleasant fate.

Booze has a lot of sugar in it. Alcohol is a leading cause of obesity. If you want to lose weight, cut out the beer and wine. A Friday night getting the pints in can be like eating a bag of sugar. You wouldn’t do that normally, so why do it with booze?

That sugar can also cause diabetes, which is made worse by alcohol.

Have a Better Social Life

If your social life revolves around the pub, it is probably not a very good social life. A lot of people drink because of social anxiety, but it does not help you get over the social anxiety, it just shuts it up for a while.

Cutting down on booze can give you more opportunities to go and do other things with your family and friends. Access culture, don’t just go to the pub. With the extra cash you have from cutting down, you can save for some really interesting things to do.

Have more Money

The average Briton spends about £800 on alcohol every year. That’s a new TV, a shiny new smartphone, a new boiler, an upgrade to the house, nice presents for your kids, or just a bit of money put to one side for a rainy day. Booze is expensive, imagine what you could spend the extra cash on?

Feel Better

Are Sundays often spent in bed with a hangover? Do you feel tired at work? Struggling to get out of bed in the morning?

In many cases, alcohol is the cause. Drinking disrupts your sleep, it changes how you breathe when you are asleep, and alters the patterns of your dreams, which are essential to proper rest. Half a bottle of wine a night might not sound like much but it can seriously impair your sleep quality, and therefore the rest of your life.

It can feel like you need alcohol to unwind. It rarely has this effect, and if it is a habit, it will not help. Cutting down or cutting it out entirely can help you find effective stress relieving strategies. Plus, you will be less stressed because you are less tired, are healthier, and have more money.

Your friends and family will notice the change. You’ll look healthier and be better company. People care about you, they do not want you to hurt yourself with alcohol.

The Cost of Alcohol on the NHS

Ever since its inauguration, the NHS has been a stalwart institution in the UK, offering health services free at the point of delivery for everyone, regardless of status or socioeconomic background. Over time, the pressure on the NHS has changed in various different ways. A growing and aging population mean that demands are different from what they were when the NHS came about. But what about the growing problem of alcohol, specifically alcohol abuse? What effect does this have on the NHS?

The Cost of Alcohol on the NHS

The cost of alcohol on the NHS has increased by approximately 19% in the last three decades alone. This is evidently due to the increase in affordability and availability of alcohol as well as the general increase in binge drinking. Recent reports have suggested that there are about 10.5 million adults in England alone that drink above what they should and there’s around 1.1 million who have some form of alcohol addiction or dependence. It’s actually the third leading cause of disease in the UK and, as a result, the costs of this are spiralling. If some sources are to be believed, the NHS will not be able to sustain the increases cost if this trend continues.

The latest figures estimate that alcohol costs the NHS around £3.5 billion each year, which is a staggering amount. This up from the estimates in 2006/7 which was around £2.7 billion. There are many difficulties in recording costs for alcohol-related harm and, as such, it would not be surprising if both of these figures were actually higher.

NHS Service


This increase in demand for NHS services has not always been met by an increase in the availability of appropriate services. The NHS is stretched to its limits without the added demands that increasing alcohol-related disease adds. Some statistics estimate that only around 1 in every 18 people who are alcohol-dependent actually receive treatment and the availability of such treatment varies massively across the different parts of the UK – another blip in the NHS’s ‘postcode lottery’.

How does Alcohol cost the NHS?

It isn’t just drunken admissions to A&E for excessive drinking that are costing the NHS so much, although this is undeniably one factor. Studies suggest that around 50% of violent assaults are related to alcohol and, as such, where the cause of the admission to hospital may be an injury, the primary cause of that injury is a direct link with alcohol consumption.

Other statistics show that, for rape victims requiring treatment, 58% of rapists had drunk alcohol before carrying out their attack. Alcohol is also a key player in accidental deaths, of which around a fifth are due to alcohol consumption. Suicides are also heavily related to alcohol consumption. We can see that these are just some of the reasons how alcohol can cost the NHS billions of pounds.

NHS Pressure and the Future

The pressure on the services provided by the NHS is mounting. Hospitals are left dealing with the majority of the problems related to alcohol with around 70% of all alcohol-related costs being spent in hospitals. More and more people are being admitted to hospital for alcohol-related harm than ever before too. But, are the hospitals the best places to deal with such pressure? Is this the most cost-effective way of managing alcohol-related harm. Perhaps other measures, such as preventative treatments could help hospitals cope with the demand as well as improving the health of the population too.

Hospitals particularly need to look nationally at best practices to see how other hospitals are managing such demands. Some areas have ‘alcohol buses’ with medical treatment provided near busy towns and cities in order to minimise hospital admissions related to single-session drinking. Likewise, most hospital admissions have not had any contact with primary care services for their drinking, and as such, perhaps the first point of contact should be elsewhere or perhaps GPs services could be doing more to minimise hospital demand. Alcohol services can have a massive impact on reducing the costs to Primary Care Trusts but, as mentioned above, these are dependent on the area in which you live. Whatever happens, it’s clear that something needs to be done to aid the NHS alcohol crisis that is looming.