Lockdown Home Drinking: 2. How to use the Drinksmeter

16 April 2020 Posted by

In the previous article, we invited you to try the Drinksmeter so that during the lockdown you can keep your drinking at a level that you have chosen.

In order to do that, you need to find, download and use the Drinksmeter app.

The app, which is free, can be found either here https://www.drinksmeter.com/ or on your usual app store.

Downloading it on to your phone is as easy as for any other app you use, and then the app itself gives you step by step instructions.

Once you get used to it, you are completely in control of where you want to set your drinking amounts, based on the advice that the app gives you.

Here’s what to expect:

When you first log in, the app gives you an id code, which means that then you can access it from any phone, tablet or computer.

In the initial set up, as well as asking roughly where you live, it asks you for an outline of your normal drinking, or what you drank last week. One of the more complicated aspects of keeping an eye on your alcohol risk level is working with the idea of units of alcohol across different types and strengths of drink, but the app takes that difficulty away by working that out for you.

It also works out the calories in your normal intake, which is important if you’re keeping an eye on your weight and fitness. Again, rather than staying in technical language, it will give you an idea of what that number of calories means in terms of food.

After this, based on your own estimates, the app then works out your normal spend on alcohol, and how that spreads through the week.

At this point it begins to look at how all of that compares to the guidance around alcohol related risk, so that you can decide whether this is something you want to take into account as you make your own plan. In addition, it will then check any other health or risk factors, so that you can take them into consideration. Finally, the app then uses a 10-question checklist to see what impact alcohol has had on you up to now.
All you need to do is give honest answers, knowing that no-one will look at this other than yourself.

These questions have been put together by the World Health Organisation, and give a Risk Level score. They start off by looking at your drinking pattern, and then check how alcohol has affected aspects of your life.

The app guides you through this, but the simple scoring system puts Low Risk at 0 to 7 – this would mean that you are generally drinking within the safest 14 unit per week level; Increasing risk is scored at 8 to 15, meaning that you tend to drink above that 14 unit per week level; and 16 or above as High Risk, for which more support may be needed if you find that keeping things under control is a struggle.

Finally, the app gives an advice summary, but then it’s over to you to decide where you want to set your levels from now on. Then it allows you to keep a record, so that you can see if you are on track.

At this point, if there’s anything there that concerns you, there’s some local contact information, based on info you’ve given about the region where you live. If you’re in Cornwall, you should be given details for Healthy Cornwall, or our Alcohol support provider, ‘We Are With You Cornwall’.

From then on, it’s over to you to use it to keep control of your own drinking.

In the next post we’ll outline what those Risk Level scores mean in more detail, and what to do if you find that keeping your drinking at the level you have chosen is more of a struggle than you expected.

At this lockdown moment, when getting out to see and talk to someone about your drinking is impossible, the Drinksmeter is a perfect self-monitoring tool. For most people it’s all that’s needed, but if you find you need to talk to someone for advice, the right contact details are within the app, based on the region where you live.

If you have any comments, questions, problems or feedback, please email us at daat@cornwall.gov.uk



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