Alcohol addiction

By: Dr Foong

Raffles Hotel Arcade and Star Vista
Posted on: 5 Jul 2023

Anyone familiar with our Lifestyle Medicine approach will recognise that one of the 6 pillars is ‘avoidance of risky substances’. Alcohol is very much considered a ‘risky substance’. Below outlines the legalities around alcohol in Singapore plus some guidance to raise awareness around alcohol dependency.

What is the legal age to drink in Singapore?

The legal age to buy alcohol in 18 years old.  It is not illegal to drink alcohol under 18 years old, but any premises that sells alcohol to persons under 18 years old are liable to be fined up to $5000 or face conviction.

What is the drink driving law?

The prescribed alcohol limit is:

  • 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.
  • 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

But what does this mean? The challenge is that it depends upon the following factors:

  • your weight, age, sex, metabolism
  • what you’ve eaten that day
  • the type of alcohol you’re drinking
  • the amount you’re drinking
  • your stress levels

This is why none of the guidelines in Singapore will ever be direct and confirm you can have for example, ‘one glass of wine’ or ‘two beers’.

The truth is, there is no foolproof way to drink and drive safely. The laws in Singapore for drink driving are punitive and even a small amount of alcohol can affect your driving ability, so it is always best to avoid drinking entirely when you plan to get behind the wheel. Instead, use public transportation or call a taxi to take you home.

Do I have a drinking problem?

In the UK alcohol abuse increased during the coronavirus pandemic (according to the British Liver Trust), which reported a 500% rise in calls to its helpline during lockdown.

So, when does your alcohol habit tip into a potential addiction issue? To guide your analysis read the questions posed below and consider if any apply to you:

Have you..?

  • Had times when you ended up drinking alcohol more or longer than intended?
  • More than once wanted or tried to reduce or stop drinking but could not?
  • Spent a lot of time drinking or being sick from the after effects?
  • Wanted a drink so badly you couldn’t think of anything else?
  • Found that drinking — or being sick from drinking — interfered with work, family or school duties?
  • Continued to drink alcohol even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important, interesting or pleasurable in order to drink?
  • More than once got into situations while or after consuming alcohol that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as swimming, driving, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area or having unsafe sex)?
  • Continued to drink alcohol even though it was making you feel depressed, anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  • Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that the usual number of drinks had much less effect?
  • Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, racing heart or a seizure?

If you answered ‘yes’ to one or a few of these questions it may be advised to seek help. Your GP is a good place to start. We have the knowledge and the experience – over the years we have supported many patients with problematic relationships with alcohol. It is worth highlighting that we also have a strong connection to trusted practitioners in many disciplines that can support your journey. The first step is recognising there is a potential issue and making an appointment.

Dr Tsin Uin Foong  is a UK trained doctor based at both our Raffles Hotel Arcade clinic and our Star Vista clinic. Please make an appointment here or call 6332 2727

Raffles Hotel Arcade Star Vista