Cumbrians cutting out alcohol could save the NHS £2 million

Cutting back on alcohol could be the most effective way to improve your health, boost your energy, lose weight and save money this New Year. Credit: PA

Cutting back on alcohol could be the most effective way to help the NHS while improving your own health, lose weight and save money this New Year.

Almost £2 million was spent treating 13,000 people in A&E with alcohol-related injuries and illnesses between 2018 and 2021, North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust have revealed.

They say committing to a few drink-free days a week, or swapping to lower-strength drinks, will help Cumbrians feel the benefits of drinking less alcohol.

The NHS recommends using their app to set and stick to drink-free days. Credit: North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust

Karen Nicoll, North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Alcohol contributes to over 60 conditions including cardiovascular (heart) disease, cancer, liver disease, harm from accidents, violence and self-harm.

"All of this puts substantial, and to a large extent avoidable, pressure on the NHS.

"Identifying and helping those using alcohol to excess will benefit your overall health in both the short and longer term.

"The health benefits of drinking less include lower blood pressure, lower risk of stroke, hypertension, cancer and liver disease, lower cholesterol levels, better mood, memory and quality of sleep, and help with weight management.”

Tips to help you cut down on alcohol

  • Have a game plan: Use free apps to set yourself a weekly alcohol unit target and stick to it. But if one week you do go over your limit, don't stop trying – next week is a fresh start.

  • Switch from stronger stuff: Choose drinks that are lower in alcohol. Try lighter beers – under 4% ABV. As a rule of thumb, white and rosé wines are lower in strength than reds. Or try swapping some or all of your drinks for no or low-alcohol alternatives.

  • Shake up your social plans: Going for drinks is not the only way to see friends. You could watch a film, meet up for breakfast, grab a coffee and go for a walk, go bowling, head to the gym or sign up for a class to do together.

  • Set a booze budget: Sticking to a budgeted amount for alcohol can be a good way to drink less. If you are going out, try taking only the exact cash, or set up a spending alert on your card.

  • Write off the rounds: Being involved in rounds makes it easy to end up drinking more than you meant. Try to avoid them if you can, and do not feel like you have to say yes to a drink just because someone else is buying. There's always next time.

  • Only wine and dine: Waiting for your evening meal before you have a drink – and having your first only once you've started eating – is another simple way to help you cut down.

  • Beat boredom: If a drink is a way you handle boredom or stress, try finding something else to do instead. Exercise is a great stress reliever, and simple things like cleaning, a new hobby or DIY can be a good way to occupy mind and body.

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