Alcohol Awareness Week: How alcohol affects our mental health.

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Health Assured team

27 June 2024

With warmer weather on our doorsteps and the Euros shown in most pubs throughout the UK, more people are choosing to drink alcohol at an increased rate. But what could this mean for our wellbeing and will excessive drinking risk any long-term harm to mental health?

According to Drinkaware, 6% of adults were drinking alcohol at a high risk or possible dependent level in the UK in 2023- a staggering statistic that highlights the UK’s problematic relationship with alcohol.

What is Alcohol Awareness Week?

Alcohol Awareness Week is a dedicated week that aims to raise awareness around the health risks associated with alcohol intake and supporting vulnerable people in alcohol reduction. Coordinated by Alcohol Change UK, the week raises awareness and supplies resources to limit the significant harm alcohol consumption.

When is Alcohol Awareness Week?

This year, Alcohol Awareness Week will take place from 1st to 7th July 2024 with them of ‘Understanding alcohol harm,’ predominantly focusing on the danger of alcohol.

Research from Alcohol Change UK (ACUK) states that one-in-five UK adults regularly drinking more than the recommended maximum of 14 units a week. Alcohol is ingrained and celebrated within British culture. Despite this, drinking can be extremely harmful to physical and mental health and it’s important to understand those dangers, especially if you drink alcohol.

Danger to physical and mental health

Drinking alcohol affects everyone differently and many people drink alcohol to relax, celebrate, socialize, and commiserate. However, there is a dark side to regular alcohol consumption that can encourage negative physical and mental health symptoms, such as liver disease, increased stress, anxiety, and even death.


Alcohol is a depressant, affecting the chemistry in the brain, and exacerbate symptoms of depression, such as feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness. Alcohol depresses the brain functions and slows down central nervous system, making it harder to deal with depression symptoms and often lowering mood further.

Dr Alex George, physician and mental health advocate, issued a warning for people who drink alcohol and have certain pre-existing mental health conditions, like depression, because of its depressant affects.


Individuals who have ADHD may suffer with hyperactivity and relieve these symptoms by drinking alcohol due to its sedative qualities.

Similarly to depression, Dr Alex George warns people with ADHD that alcohol will exacerbate symptoms, explaining that it’s like “pouring petrol on a fire.” Alcohol affects our decision-making, information processing, and self-regulating skills. So, people with ADHD may feel that alcohol intensifies their ADHD symptoms, like impulsivity and a short attention span, rather than alleviate symptoms.


Individuals who experience anxiety may reach for a drink to soothe and calm their fast-paced and worrisome mind. Yet, this will only provide short term relief and could increase anxiety symptoms in the long-term.

The day after drinking you may experience a phenomenon called ‘Hangxiety’ which intensifies feelings of anxiousness, embarrassment, regret, stress, and sadness. Sometimes, these feelings can stick with anxious people days after drinking.


Whilst there are theories that alcohol can support in-the-moment relaxation, this idea can be deceptive. Regular alcohol consumption can contribute to poor stress management and make it hard to deal with pressure and stress in the long run.


Although you may feel that a nightcap will send you off to sleep faster, it can disrupt your sleeping pattern and affect sleep quality. Having poor sleep quality is known to aggravate mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, so it’s important to have good quality sleep for quality mental wellbeing.

Alcohol dependency

Drinking alcohol regularly can significantly risk alcohol dependency, encouraging substantial mental and physical health effects, such as headaches, sleep disruption, and liver disease.

Beating alcohol dependency can be a difficult, uphill battle and many individuals in the UK are experiencing this struggle every day. If you are struggling, remember you aren’t alone!


Research from the World Health Organization shows that 2.6 million deaths were attributed to alcohol consumption in 2019 worldwide. Drinkaware also showed a significant deathrate in the UK with 10,048 alcohol-related deaths in 2022.

Long-term and regular drinking significantly risks the chances of dying younger because it can lead to dangers, such as cancer, stroke, and high blood pressure. Short-term binges of alcohol can also be detrimental and risk early death, like alcohol poisoning and heart attacks.


With the cost-of-living crisis squeezing everyone’s wallets, it’s no surprise that people are looking to ditch alcohol to save a few pounds.

According to Alcohol Change UK, the average drinker in the UK spends £62,899 on alcohol in their lifetime- a substantial amount of money for the average person.

Good financial health is vital for positive mental wellbeing, with many of us feeling at our best when we have financial independence and are free from debt.

Taking part in alcohol awareness week

Alcohol Awareness Week is a chance for everyone to come together to think and talk about the risks and harm associated with alcohol and how it affects their communities.

Finding ways to celebrate and support is easy, and you can find resources and information on Alcohol Change UK’s website.  

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