Is alcohol a problem for you this Christmas?

LAWRENCE MURPHY: A worthy alternative to roasties?

Booze flows more freely at Christmas than at any other time of year.

While there's nothing wrong with a friendly glass of wine, or three, for many people the festive season is harder than it looks.

Therapist Kevin Laye believes some people aren't always aware that alcohol can be controlling them, rather than the other way around.

'Most people like to have a drink occasionally,' he says.

'I'm not coming from a high moral standpoint, but just want to help people have more control over their alcohol intake.'

If you're the sort of person who can't imagine going to a party without drinking alcohol, he suggests it could be time for a change.

People who just have the one glass regularly after a hard day may not see it as a problem, he says. And it won't be, as long as they can easily stop.

He advises people who are concerned about their alcohol intake to go for a night without a drink: 'If you can't resist, you might have a problem. If you can control it, you probably haven't. My book is written for people who come home from work and think they need a drink, just to relax.'

Official guidelines suggest men should drink no more than 21 units of alcohol per week, and women no more than 14 units.

But as one unit of alcohol equals half a pint of beer or a small glass of wine, unsurprisingly a third of men and a fifth of women drink more than they should.

'Often people get labelled as lager louts, but they're not – they can be professional men and women who come home and have a large glass of wine with their dinner every night.

'That alone can push them over the official limit.'