Alcohol and Substance Misuse

It is more important than ever before to be looking after ourselves. But drinking too much alcohol can put our health at risk and make us feel worse.

It is important to recognise that addiction can often be used as a coping mechanism for many situations, including the stresses that often come with a caring role. Some may turn to prescription/non-prescription drugs to help them cope, others may turn to alcohol. Alcohol has also been described as ‘the UK’s favourite coping mechanism’, and some people drink to try and help manage stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health problems. It is known that alcohol can often make problems such as anxiety and depression worse, as well as increase your risk of heart attack, cancer and stokes.

If you are affected by any type of addiction, Wearside Recovery are here to help. You can self-refer via their website, or chat to someone online.

Here’s how alcohol can affect us:

  • Mental health: According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, regularly drinking alcohol affects the chemistry of the brain and can increase the risk of depression, low mood and anxiety. Drinking could be making you feel more tired and more down.
  • Immune system: Alcohol use, especially heavy use, can weaken the immune system and leave us more vulnerable to infectious diseases.
  • Health: Regularly drinking above 14 units a week increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and seven types of cancer. Cutting down is one great way to help reduce blood pressure.
  • Weight: Many people aren’t sure about the number of calories in their drinks – reducing how much alcohol we drink is a good way to cut our calories.

Tips for reducing your alcohol consumption:

  1. Try not to stockpile alcohol. Limit the amount of alcohol you buy in and opt for non-alcoholic drinks to help you stay within the 14 unit low-risk weekly guidelines.
  2. Having at least three drink-free days every week can help you cut down on how much you’re drinking. Visit Reduce My Risk to download the free Drink Free Days app from Public Health England.
  3. Think about being a good role model to your kids around alcohol, which includes how often and how much you drink alcohol. None of us want to teach our children that it’s normal to drink every night or to start each day at 4pm.
  4. You can track your units, calories and money saved when you cut down or cut out alcohol through the Try Dry app from Alcohol Change.
  5. Use a measure to pour your drinks – home-poured measures are often a lot more generous than those you’d get in the pub and contain more units and calories than a standard measure.
  6. If you feel like you should cut down, you’re in good company. An estimated 1 in 3 North East drinkers cut down or stopped drinking alcohol during the spring / summer lockdown.
  7. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, it can be tempting to turn to alcohol to help you relax. But here are some top ways to unwind from Alcohol Change UK that don’t involve alcohol.
  8. When it comes to alcohol and young people, parents often find it confusing to know what to do for the best. The safest option is to follow the Chief Medical Officer guidelines that it is safest and healthiest for children to not drink before the age of 18. For advice every parent needs to know visit
  9. Finally, if you are concerned about your own drinking or someone else’s, call the national alcohol helpline Drinkline on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am–8pm, weekends 11am–4pm).
  10. Consuming alcohol is not an excuse to drop social distancing. Keeping to social distancing rules can help prevent pressure on the NHS.