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Addiction - Alcohol addiction

NHS ChoicesFeature

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It is estimated that one in 13 people in the UK are dependent on alcohol. Several million drink excessively, and are putting their health at serious risk.

The problems caused by alcohol addiction are wide-ranging. It can affect your physical health and put you at an increased risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver. It's also associated with a number of cancers, including cancer of the breast, mouth, larynx (voice box) and liver. Excessive alcohol can also increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and coronary heart disease.

Psychiatric disorders are also more common in people who drink more than 10 units a day. These can include sexual problems, depression, hallucinations, memory loss and attempted suicide.

In addition, alcoholism can affect your work, and social and personal relationships.

Are you drinking too much?

NHS Choices alcohol calculator
Are you concerned you might be drinking too much? Answer these simple questions and find out what kind of relationship you have with alcohol.

Drinkaware: NHS drink check 
Use the same quiz that healthcare professionals use to see if the amount you drink could be harming your health. With advice on whether you should cut down.

What kind of drinker are you?
Researchers have identified nine types of heavy drinker, who are at risk of liver damage and other alcohol-related illnesses.

Understanding units
Watch videos that illustrate the recommended daily units for men and women.

Real stories

'I drank 24 hours a day'
When George, 59, realised he was drinking almost constantly throughout the day, he decided to get help.

'I was an alcoholic mother'
Read how Niki Shisler from London, now 44, got help for her alcoholism when she realised she could no longer take care of her son.

The impact of alcohol on your health

Health A-Z: liver disease (alcoholic)
Read how the liver works and how alcoholism can result in liver disease.

Health A-Z: alcohol misuse
Find out what damage alcohol misuse can cause, including health risks, treatment and an expert's view.

Video: liver disease
Consultant hepatologist Mark Wright suggests the questions to ask if you've been diagnosed with liver disease, and how stopping drinking can help.

Get help if you think you have a problem

Getting help
Realising you have a problem is the first step to getting better, but it's often the hardest one. Find out where to get help.

Alcoholics Anonymous
AA was the first Twelve Step programme, and has been the model for similar recovery groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous.

Alcohol Concern
Alcohol Concern is the national agency on alcohol misuse. It aims to reduce the incidence and costs of alcohol-related harm, and to increase the range and quality of services available to people with alcohol-related problems.

Al-Anon
Al-Anon Family Groups provide understanding, strength and hope to anyone whose life is, or has been, affected by someone else's drinking.

National Library for Health: alcohol misuse
This leaflet includes a definition of alcohol misuse, the health risks, and information on treatment.

NHS Choices: alcohol
Browse a selection of written features, real stories and videos in the NHS Choices section on alcohol.

Watch a video on the risks of high alcohol consumption for older people.

Medical Review: February 09, 2009

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