Page last updated at 06:00 GMT, Monday, 19 October 2009 07:00 UK

Warning over heavy home drinking

Model Julia Bisby as she naturally appears (left) and right, after she is made up to look how excessive alcohol intake might change her appearance
A model is made up (right) to demonstrate the effects of excessive alcohol consumption on her appearance, as part of alcohol awareness week

People who enjoy drinking at home are being warned its effects can be as devastating as going to the pub.

Almost a quarter of people in Wales drink alcohol at home several times a week, often because it is cheaper than going out to drink, research suggests.

Wales' chief medical officer, Dr Tony Jewell, said some were more likely to indulge in "heavy" drinking.

Alcohol Concern is using alcohol awareness week, which starts on Monday, to highlight the potential dangers.

The agency said many people in Wales enjoyed alcohol at home to save money but the financial benefits could be outweighed by the negative effects on health and relationships.

Drinking in the comfortable surrounding of home can provide a false sense of security
Andrew Misell, Alcohol Concern Wales

Research carried out in Wales suggested 23% of people surveyed drank at home at least three or four times a week, with 46% saying they did so because it was cheaper.

Andrew Misell, from Alcohol Concern in Wales, said: "Drinking in the comfortable surrounding of home can provide a false sense of security and one glass can lead to another.

"But overdoing the drinking on a regular basis can lead to real problems.

"Alcohol-related problems range from addiction and organ damage to sexual problems and high blood pressure, costing the NHS in Wales £70-85m each year."

He added that the survey suggested that almost 40% of people did not know how many units they were having when drinking at home.

The NHS recommends a limit of three to four units of alcohol per day for men, and two to three units for women.

Anti-social behaviour

Dr Jewell said the current Health Challenge Wales advertising campaign was aimed at the many people who were not aware they were drinking too much at home.

"They consider themselves safe and sensible drinkers and don't associate themselves at all with the images we see in the media of binge-drinking and anti-social behaviour," he said.

"However, this doesn't preclude them from suffering the same effects of excessive alcohol consumption as those who are obviously overdoing it.

"Some home drinkers are more likely to indulge in 'heavy' drinking, consuming up to double the recommended daily limit - the equivalent to a man having three pints of strong lager or a woman drinking two large glasses of wine.

"The effects on health, family and social life may not be apparent but everyone should try to think and drink in units to make sure they are not putting themselves at risk."

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