People drink alcohol for lots of reasons -“ to have fun, to relax or to fit in with friends. Lots of people try alcohol and it is important to remember that most Australians drink responsibly. However, drinking too much can lead to severe problems.

The following may be signs that drinking is putting you at risk of harm:

-¢ missing work due to your drinking;

-¢ drinking in dangerous situations (e.g. driving while drunk);

-¢ drinking-related legal problems;

-¢ having to drink more to get drunk;

-¢ withdrawal (e.g. shaking, sweating, feeling sick or vomiting, sweats, sleep problems), or drinking to relieve or avoid withdrawal problems;

-¢ drinkingmore than you want to drink;

-¢ no longer doing what you really enjoy (e.g. going to the beach, surfing, shopping).

As a guide, if you have been drinking a lot for years and you get signs of withdrawal when you try to cut back or stop drinking, you may need to stop drinking for a minimum of three months. This is so your body can get used to being without alcohol. During these three months, any depression and anxiety caused by alcohol should also settle down.

Usually, very heavy drinkers have the best results by stopping drinking altogether. If you have had withdrawal problems when you’ve cut back or stopped drinking in the past, or you are a very heavy drinker, you should speak to a health care provider about doing a supervised withdrawal from alcohol.

If your pattern of drinking is binge drinking rather than daily drinking, you may be able to reduce your drinking to safe levels without having to stop.

Here are some things you can do to help you to reduce any harm caused by drinking.

-¢ Pace yourself when you drink. Try having a non-alcoholic drink every second or third drink, sip slowly, avoid getting into shouts, put down your drink between each sip, and finish each drink before you top up so you can keep track of how much you’re drinking.

-¢ Eat food before and while drinking alcohol.

-¢ Know your limits. What may be okay for others may not be okay for you.

-¢ See a doctor for a medical check-up.

-¢ Aim for two alcohol-free days every week.

If you think you are drinking too much and would like help, you should see your local community health service, youth service, or alcohol treatment service. Call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service telephone on 9361 8000 for details of your nearest service.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?/p>

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