Why does alcohol affect our relationships?
Drinking is a social part of many of people's lives, We often drink with friends, families and loved ones. But drinking too much can change the way we think, behave and react to certain situations. This can have a negative impact on our relationships.
Does the morning after the night before always seems to start with you saying sorry for your behaviour? Are there sometimes parts of the previous evening you can’t remember? Your drinking could be affecting your relationships as well as your health.
Whether going out or drinking in, some small but positive changes could make a big difference. Keep a track of what you’re drinking. Replace your choice of drink with a non-alcoholic alternative.
You know yourself better than anyone. So if you feel your personality is starting to change and you are responding to situations differently, then call it a night.
Alcohol and your children
Almost 65,000 young people each year need treatment in A&E departments due to the effects of alcohol. With statistics like this, it’s understandable that parents and carers are unsure of the right thing to do when it comes to alcohol. Do you forbid your child from drinking until they are 18? Do you have a conversation about responsible drinking at a young age? Or do you moderate your own behaviour to set a good example?
While parents and carers can’t always control what goes on outside of the home, they can make sure that younger people know the facts and are set a good example. For example:
Alcohol poisoning – drinking too much in a short space of time can cause alcohol poisoning. This can affect the part of the brain that controls balance and speech and affect the nerves that control breathing and heartbeat.
Accidents and injuries – drinking affects judgement and balance. Due to a young person's lower body weight and the limited ability to metabolise alcohol, acute intoxication can occur rapidily and this is when accidents happen.
Mental health – While 43% of you people say they use alcohol to cheer themselves up or forget about problems, evidence shows that alcohol misuse negatively impacts our mental health and makes problems such as depression or anxiety worse.
Setting an example
Even from a young age, children understand a great deal about how and why adults drink. Seeing adults drinking, drunk or hungover can have negative impacts. Research has found that even moderate drinking by adults can result in feelings including embarrassment, anxiety, fear and poor emotional health and wellbeing among children.
As a parent, carer or older relative, you have a strong influence. While 90% of parents feel it is their responsibility to set a good example with their drinking, only half of children say their parents’ drinking behaviour provides a positive role model. So consider the amount you drink around them, and avoid talking about alcohol in a way which glamorises drinking.
Talking about alcohol
As children grow up, it is important to have open discussions with them about safe and responsible drinking. These conversations need to be appropriate for their age and take place at the right time. Be careful not to come across as judgmental or disapproving of what they say. Be prepared to hear your child’s view of your alcohol use and respect their feelings.
And remember to listen as much as you talk. Two-way communication around alcohol is most effective, with children fully participating in the conversation, without being talked down to and where the risks and harms of alcohol are discussed.
Worried about a child's drinking
It is natural for young people to experiment with alcohol. However, if you are worried about your child’s or another young person’s alcohol use, there are a range of specialist services across Greater Manchester. See support services for information on a service near you.
Understanding the age limit
The Chief Medical Officer for England’s recommendation is that an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option. This also states that if a child does drink, it should not be before age 15. Between the ages of 15 and 17, drinking should be supervised by an adult and be limited to no more than one day a week.
Alcohol can make problems in a relationship worse
Many of us may already know that alcohol can lower our inhibitions and make us feel more relaxed. But it can also make us say or do things we may later come to regret. A social night out could end in an argument, because one or both of you have had a little too much to drink.
While alcohol can make us feel relaxed, it can also make us aggressive and argumentative. So it comes as no surprise that we are more likely to be confrontational and argue unnecessarily when we’ve drunk too much.
If you think there are problems in your relationship or if alcohol is causing those problems, don’t talk about it when you’ve been drinking. Wait until you are sober and can have a conversation without judgement and those lowered inhibitions.
Be alcohol free
You don’t have to drink when you go out. Choose something different to do, a movie or bowling instead of a bar.
Stay in the guidelines
Know how much you drink. Lower your risks of a bad experience by not drinking more than 14 units a week.
Eat before you drink
Eating before drinking lowers the rate your body absorbs alcohol and helps you to stay a little more in control.
Have a sober converstaion
If something’s on your mind, don’t wait until you’ve had a drink to have the conversation. Talk when you’re both sober.