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Alcohol abuse - Think before you drink this summer

Published 26/07/2008

With the summer season now in full swing, alcohol treatment specialists at the Linwood Manor Group are warning that drinking and hot weather can be a dangerous combination.

"Long summer days put us all in the holiday mood whether we're at home or abroad and that's no bad thing. Unfortunately, that often leads to alcohol abuse, because drinking is strongly associated with summer socialising in our culture," says Linwood Group research director Sue Allchurch.

When the sun's shining, she points out, the summer months present countless opportunities for barbeques, picnics and nights on the town. And extended daylight hours mean that drinking sessions that begin in the afternoon or early evening stretch long into the night.

All that summertime alcohol brings with it both short-term and long-term dangers, she says. In the short-term, it can lead to illness and accidents. "It's hot, you're thirsty - so you reach for another drink. But alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it promotes dehydration. Each alcoholic drink will make you even thirstier, and if you keep ‘refreshing' that thirst, you could wind up with heat exhaustion or even heatstroke," she says.

In addition, medics agree that alcohol works faster on our systems in the sun. That means that, even after just one or two drinks, you may be far drunker than you would usually be after that quantity. For that reason, drink-driving soars in the summer months, when a single drink can seriously impair the good judgment and reaction times of any motorist.

But the long-term effects of summer drinking can be far more devastating, warns Allchurch. "If you're already experiencing the early signs of a problem with alcohol, this time of year could be the trigger that sends that problem spiralling out of control. Simply having the opportunity to drink more frequently, over longer periods or in larger volumes could quickly bring you to a point where dependency sets in," she says.

Given the risks, the most sensible action to take is to cut back on your alcohol during periods of hot weather. And if that sounds like an impossible challenge, this summer could be good time to seek help for alcohol addiction.

If you would like help, contact the Alcoholism Clinic at Linwood Manor.


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