Noncommunicable chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain cancers, are a major public health concern worldwide. Unhealthy lifestyle behaviours are the leading modifiable risk factors for these diseases. These include unhealthy diets, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and alcohol misuse. These lifestyle factors have significant negative social, economic and health effects on individuals, families, and communities.
The Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate offers support from qualified health professionals who can assist you in gaining the skills and knowledge needed to improve your overall health and well-being.
Alcohol is a psychoactive substance that is commonly consumed in the form of alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, and spirits.
IMPORTANT: There is no safe level of consumption that does not cause harm. That is, any amount of alcohol of any type causes negative health effects when consumed (Yes, even red wine). This means that you should look at the harm caused by alcohol as existing on a spectrum where less alcohol tends to cause less harm, and more alcohol tends to cause more harm. Thinking about alcohol use in terms of safe use and unsafe use is outdated and wrong.
Alcohol misuse refers to excessive alcohol consumption, which can have negative impacts on various dimensions of wellbeing. It can have negative physical health effects, such as increasing the risk of chronic diseases, including liver disease, cancer, and heart disease. It can also impair cognitive function and may lead to making risky decisions such as unprotected sex or driving under the influence. It can also contribute to mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. Alcohol misuse can also have negative social consequences such as problems with maintaining interpersonal relationships, financial security, and the law.
Alcohol misuse may also lead to Alcohol dependence. Alcohol dependence is a chronic and often progressive condition characterized by the compulsive and uncontrollable use of alcohol despite the negative consequences that is experienced. People who are dependent on alcohol have a strong physical and psychological craving for it, which can lead them to continue drinking even when it causes problems in their personal relationships, work, health, and other areas of life.
Some of the signs and symptoms of alcohol dependence include:
• Drinking more alcohol than intended or for a longer period than intended
• Unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control alcohol use
• Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of alcohol
• Giving up social, occupational, or recreational activities because of alcohol use
• Continuing to drink despite the negative consequences it causes, such as health problems, legal problems, or relationship issues
• Developing a tolerance to alcohol, which means that more alcohol is needed to achieve the desired effect
• Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when alcohol use is stopped or reduced
Alcohol dependence is a serious and often chronic condition that can have significant negative impacts on an individual's health, relationships, and overall well-being. It requires comprehensive treatment and support to manage and overcome.
Alcohol withdrawal refers to the physical and psychological symptoms that can occur when a person who is dependent on alcohol abruptly stops or significantly reduces their alcohol consumption. The severity and duration of alcohol withdrawal can vary depending on a range of factors, including the individual's level of dependence, their overall health, and how long they have been drinking heavily. Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include anxiety, agitation, insomnia, tremors, sweating, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, seizures, and even hallucinations. In severe cases, delirium tremens (DTs) can occur, which is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. Alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous and requires medical attention and support to manage symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.
However, if you do wish to use alcohol it is best to be aware of your alcohol consumption. The best way to keep track of your alcohol use is to count the number of standard units of alcohol that you have consumed. A standard unit is 8 g of alcohol which is 1 shot of whisky (25ml 40%), a small volume of red or white wine (80ml at 12.5%), or a half pint of beer (240ml 4.2%).
Drinking more than 4 standard drinks in a single day, or drinking more than 14 standard drinks over the course of a week is considered heavy alcohol use. Heavy alcohol use is dangerous. Avoid it.
If you do not drink, it is recommended that you do not to start drinking at all.
Here is an acronym to remember and help stay safe with alcohol on your next night out:
NO- No Opiates, count Number of drinks
NEED-Never Drink and Drive- not even 1 drink
FOR- Food helps digestion of alcohol
SPEED- SLOW down your alcohol intake
SLEEP- Switch to water before going to sleep
At- Avoid Accidents/ Trauma e.g. Falls, fights or unprotected sex
HOME- Help friends and yourself to get Home by designating a driver
For further help, please contact Aġenzija Sedqa on 2388 5110 and website https://fsws.gov.mt/en/sedqa/