TV documentary, Drinkers Like Me was well worth watching. It follows respected TV broadcaster Adrian Chiles as he discovers he has a problem with drink.
Adrian drinks a bit too much
Adrian knows he drinks a bit, but believes he’s just a “nice regular drinker”. The programme follows him as he discovers he drinks an incredible 60 to 100 units (UK measurement). Well over the UK low risk guidelines of 14 units a week.
Initially he thinks he’s ok. Liver blood tests are normal. Then he discovers he has fibrosis of the liver which leads to cirrhosis of the liver. This is often fatal.
Why was Adrian’s drinking not picked up?
What was interesting, Adrian also mentioned he had despondency, anxiety, high blood pressure and gastritis (inflammation of the stomach). In passing, he mentioned he’d seen a counsellor in the past. So it appears, none of his health care professionals asked him about his drinking. Despite the fact he had symptoms which are often related to drinking too much alcohol. We’re not really surprised, as we mentioned here and here, this often happens as the health care system does not take alcohol harm seriously.
All Adrian’s friends drink too much
Apart from people who labelled themselves as “alcoholics” and had given up drink, all Adrian’s friends drink too much. One friend, despite being aware she was drinking over low risk limits, declared
“She was not a vomiter”
So she did n’t have a problem. His friends make statements like
“We’re addicted to it without being alcoholics”.
Adrian realises they are all drinkers like me.
Adrian feels like an idiot
Very bravely on screen, Adrian pours out his feelings. He realises he’s always lied to himself about his drinking. He always linked the good times to alcohol. That he saw the world as beige without alcohol. After seeing a therapist he goes on another massive session. Personally I think I’d have done the same. I though the therapist was very confrontational and the TV segment did not show much kindness. Adrian berates himself.
“What was he thinking, feeling like an idiot”
But he’s not alone, as he discovers, many over 50’s drink too much.
2 months later
Two months later, Adrian has cut his drinking down to 25 units a week. Still too high, but a massive improvement. He realises he never liked himself and perhaps that was one of the reasons he drank too much. He now hates the phone app he uses to track his drinking. But it helped to reduce his drinking. Tracking your drinking is a great way to control your drinking.(More here)
Drinkers like me is worth watching
Drinkers like me is a really important programme in exposing our alcohol culture. It’s hard not to feel both sorry for Adrian and inspired by his honesty. He comes across as very likeable. Perhaps, because he’s still struggling, much of the commentary is very positive. He’s not seen as sanctimonious or preachy. Hopefully he’s started a serious conversation on attitudes to drinking.
Let’s blame the person
The only issues drinkers like me does not really cover is just how much the alcohol industry brainwashes us that drinking loads is ok. As a result of industry lobbying, we don’t even have warning labels on bottles and cans. Also the healthcare system does not do enough to warn people about the risks. It’s much easier to blame individual people for being reckless and stupid.
Hopefully Adrian will do another programme on this. In the meantime, don’t miss drinkers like me. For the next 24 days you can watch drinkers like me here on the BBC player.
Photo courtesy of BBC.
If you’d like tips on reducing the harm caused by alcohol click here.