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Alcohol dependency help - weekend binge drinking leads to drink driving

Published 11/02/2009

Few parents would dream of getting behind the wheel of a car with their children in the back seat after they'd had a few drinks. To do so would clearly indicate an alcohol dependency problem capable of over-riding all concern for their kids' safety.

Most would fiercely argue that they'd never do such a thing - but what about those who drive on the morning after a big night out? According to a December 2008 survey by the AA, four out of five UK drivers believe they may have driven the morning after a night's drinking when the level of alcohol in their blood was still too high.

Parents may be at particular risk of falling into this trap. Many abstain from alcohol during the week in order to fulfill weekday family commitments and only drink on Friday and Saturday nights.

But if they overdo it on these evenings, they may be putting their kids at serious risk as they ferry them to and from their various weekend activities: swimming lessons, ballet, mini rugby and so on. It's easy to underestimate how long it takes blood alcohol levels to return to safe limits after a night's drinking. Even fewer people recognise that driving when hungover vastly increases the chances of being involved in an accident - by up to four times, according to researchers at Brunel University.

The risks to their health and family's welfare are far graver than that, however. Abstaining in the week but indulging in weekend 'benders' is a path that leads many to ultimately seek alcohol dependency help, says Sue Allchurch, research director with Linwood Group. "Bargaining and negotiating with yourself are all part of the alcoholic's mindset. Parents may be able to forgo alcohol during the week, but if they 'need' to drink at weekends, that's a clear warning sign that alcohol dependency is developing."

And those that only drink to excess at weekends shouldn't fool themselves that this is healthier for them or their families. "Short periods of heavy consumption, followed by longer periods of abstinence, can have a disastrous effect on blood sugar levels, putting the body under tremendous strain," she says.

The message is clear: if you're a mum or dad who finds an escape from the stresses of parenthood in a weekend tipple, think carefully about both the short-term and long-term risks. And if that weekend session has become a necessity to you, it may be time to think about seeking alcohol dependency treatment - for your own sake and that of your children.

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