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Hello Sunday Morning - alcohol, drugs and you

18 December 2017

For many of us during the silly season we bypass our sensible gene, eating and drinking too much. When it comes to drinking: that means having more than two standard drinks a day.

Ahh, the mythical standard drink: what does it look like and how many are we supposed to have a day/week?

You can probably guess, a standard drink definitely doesn’t look like the ones you serve yourself or your friends pour you. Even in a pub, a restaurant or at a bar, a serve will frequently be more than an Australian standard drink.

For example, for table wine, a standard drink may correspond to 100ml of wine, whereas a typical serve in a pub or bar may be 150ml or more.

As for how many drinks are too many: as a woman, drinking more than two standard drinks a day on average exceeds the National Health and Medical Research guidelines. Thinking about what many of us drink, especially during the Festive Season, it probably comes as no surprise that one in 10 women consume more than the recommendation.

The big tip: read the label on an alcoholic drink container if you want to know how many standard drinks you are consuming. The label tells you the number of standard drinks in the container. Half a bottle of wine is way over the healthy limit. (For those of you who are interested: here’s what the drinks you’re served really amount to when measured as standard drinks. And for those who want to know what constitutes disordered alcohol use the World Health Organisation Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test is an eye opener.)

Frightening stuff… and that can be the problem. For many of us who like a drink, achieving 200mls of table wine a day on average can be dishearteningly difficult; so we continue on with our daily routines and ‘Friday night’ binges feeling guilty and a failure.

Chris Raine Crop

Chris Raine (above) is CEO of Hello Sunday Morning and a Westpac Scholar. His organisation wants to provide accessible support for people looking to change their relationship with alcohol and other drugs: “My passion is for understanding how and why we use drugs [both prescribed and recreational] in our lives and more importantly, how we can use technology to use them better.”

Hello Sunday Morning offers online “early intervention support for any person who wants to change the way they drink” and it does it in a scalable, inexpensive and stigma-free way.  One of the organisation’s popular blogs at this festive time of the year is ‘How to enjoy a hangover-free Christmas’: top on the tips list is to have a plan.

Your plan needs to start with listing the pros for drinking lightly or not at all; asks you to be selective about the events you attend and to put aside your FoMO (Fear of Missing Out). You can also try taking your own non-alcoholic drinks. For more, here.

According to Chris and the team at Hello Sunday Morning (HSM) of the 400,000 Australians who seek support for their alcohol use every year, 70% won't get help because existing treatment services are non-scalable and expensive, hard to get access to or attend.

Hello Sunday Morning’s Daybreak program, which is delivered through a mobile app interface, provides individualised support to many who may not otherwise have access to help. Research on the Daybreak program has found that after two weeks: 47% of members report a 20-30% reduction in:

- cravings to drink alcohol

- the intensity of these cravings when they have them

- the length of time a craving lasts

- how often they act on these cravings.

The average member is 39 years old, with 70% of all members aged 29-50 years. This is the same as traditional, face-to-face services.

On the other hand, the gender distribution is the opposite of traditional support: 63% of members are female (in traditional services, 67% are male). The program also reaches high-risk drinkers: looking at each of the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) zones, HSM finds that 51% are in Zone IV (high risk/dependent), 25% are in Zone III, 16% are in Zone II and 9% are in Zone I.