Lockdown Home Drinking: 3. How to interpret Drinksmeter scores

16 April 2020 Posted by

The types of scores in the Drinksmeter are explained as it takes you through the process, and it then gives advice based on those scores. This still leaves you in control of where you choose to set your own goals from then on.

Within the Drinksmeter there is a 10-question checklist that was formed by the World Health Organisation. This is called the ‘Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Tool’ – AUDIT. We use it in Cornwall as an assessment tool for anyone asking for help around alcohol, and it can be a form of reassurance for those who are ok, or a way of identifying the severity of a problem and the type of support needed for someone needing a bit of help.

At the end of the checklist you will have scored between zero and 40.

0 – 7 is defined as ‘Low Risk’.

This means that someone is drinking within the recommended safe guidelines, and is very unlikely to have any negative health impact from their drinking. That level is around 14 units per week for an adult. Someone in this category may only need to answer the first 3 checklist questions, but the Drinksmeter will work that out and guide you through it.

An easy way to remember the low risk level guidelines is ‘2-3-4’. In other words, low risk drinking means:

2: Only having 2 normal servings of alcohol on days when you choose to have a drink;

3: Only drinking alcohol on about 3 days in any week, and

4: Keeping the 4 days without alcohol in between the drinking days, to give your body a break.

This looks something like this:

Increasing Risk is scored at 8 to 15.

This would mean that someone tends to drink above that 14 unit per week level. This may not cause immediate problems, especially for someone young, fit and healthy, but this pattern will cause gradual and undetected health impact if maintained over a long period, however it could cause immediate problems where ‘binges’ lead to accidents or lack of self-control.

The further up the Increasing Risk score someone finds themselves, the harder they may find it to cut down their drinking.

The same is true for Higher Risk drinking, scored at 16 or above. This type of pattern may be connected to someone suffering from depression or anxiety; or a range of physical health issues, such as increased blood pressure, heart problems, liver issues, or cancers that start from the toxic impact of the journey of alcohol through the body.

If all of this begins to affect choices and responsibility, social impacts on family, relationships and behaviour may make an impact on someone’s life, as well as those around them.

Although many Higher Risk and Increasing Risk drinkers can bring things under control without outside help, for example by following the advice given in the Drinksmeter app, other people in this bracket may need more support if they find that keeping things under control is a struggle.

Some people make genuine efforts to cut down their alcohol, and just find that they can’t. We’ll look at this issue in the next in this series.

There is one more category above Higher Risk drinking, at a score of 20 or above. Someone scoring that high may be dependent on alcohol, with immediate health issues related to their drinking, and for whom cutting down becomes very difficult and dangerous.

Again, that will be covered later in this series.

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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