We’re all social drinkers, it’s not a problem

So it’s been a long week of work or parenting. You’ve been working really hard and did not drink all week. Now it’s the weekend, time to relax and have a few bevvies with your friends. Time to catch up on all the gossip and let your hair down. You’re all social drinkers. None of you have problems with alcohol. Nothing in the video applies to  any of you.

 

Remember all the good times we had together

So you have a bottle of wine Friday night catching up with the “ The Good Wife”. You all agree Alicia’s wardrobe is getting better and wonder where you can buy that red jacket she wears.

You’re  up bright and early Saturday morning, ready for another busy day.

Saturday night it’s out on the town, starting with a few drinks at home, then a couple of shorts, or  some sneaky shots.

Or maybe some friends called around and you each drank a bottle of wine. You talked about the last great night out on the town. Remember when Kathy danced  Gangnam style followed by Sarah doing the Macarena and then you all – even your partners took to the dance floor for the Birdie song. Happy times. You’re all  social drinkers. None of you have problems with alcohol.

social drinkers

Or remember the night you met that gang of lads on a stag from England.  The groom to- be declared his undying love for Ciara going down on one knee to propose? Good times with lots of funny, shared memories. You feel such a connection with your friends and believe these friendships will continue forever.

 

You’ll lose these friends

You love these nights, they make life worth living and sure everybody drinks this way. You love the craic and the drink makes these nights special. You  all love being  social drinkers.

What you don’t know is that the friendships won’t last. You lose touch with Kathy. She became depressed and she cut off all contact. Sarah will get stage 4 breast cancer and die. Ciara got an ulcer and won’t go out drinking any more. She seems to have a new set of friends and they go on these mad early morning park runs.  You, you don’t remember the good times because you get early onset dementia as a result of your drinking. You don’t even realise the common factor linking all these events is alcohol.

 

Drinking is not that dangerous

Hang on. That can’t  be right. If drinking was so dangerous, it would n’t be so easily available. We would not all be social drinkers. You would not have grown up watching your parents drinking. You would not be constantly surrounded by ads showing the glamorous side of drinking, would you? Alicia drinks wine all the time and she’s still on top of her game (Spoiler Alert, Alicia cuts back on her drinking in a later season)   Anyhow, you drink less than your friends. You don’t drink during the week and you’ve never missed work. So how could your drinking be a problem? Everybody does it.

 

Everybody drinks this way

That’s right, you’re not alone. Everybody drinks this way. The problem is though we’re all drinking a lot more than we used too. In the 1960’s, on average we drank around 4 litres per person. Now it’s a massive 11 litres as you can see  below.

social drinkers
Average drinking per person from 1960 to 2015

 

 

So what’s the problem with being  social drinkers ?

Drinking so much will damage your health in the future. The World Health Organisation reported that alcohol is now the 3rd highest cost burden in health care systems. It leads to over 200 different health problems. Some of which you saw in the video. At the less serious side alcohol dehydrates your skin and makes you look older.  At it’s worst it can silently kill you as you’ll see in the next video.

 

But everybody’s doing it.

Again, you’re right. We all think  we’re  problem free social drinkers. However, the Health Research Board report over 75% of drinking sessions are binge drinking sessions. Binge  drinking is much more likely to harm you, even if you only drink on the weekend. Binge drinking  is where you drink  6 or more standard drinks. So the bottle of wine you had last night- that’s binge drinking.

social drinkers
6 or more standard drinks is binge drinking

 

 

That can’t be right!

That’s crazy? So many of us are binge drinking and misusing alcohol. We think everybody else drinks too much, but not us. However health care professionals are always too cautious and over reactive so you don’t really accept you’re binge drinking, that can’t be right.

But when you start looking into the impact of  alcohol marketing and start looking at the facts, you’ll see we’re paying a high price for too much alcohol.

 

The facts show social drinkers are a huge problem

1,500 of our 11,000 hospital beds are occupied by a  person with an alcohol related illness. So if we reduced alcohol misuse by just 30%  we could solve the trolley bed problem. If we drank less, your Dad would not have waited 3 days on a trolley bed in the emergency department, that time he fell and broke his hip.

social drinkers

 

The rate of liver disease has trebled, with the youngest woman diagnosed with alcohol related cirrhosis of the liver just 18 years old.

social drinkers

 

But surely we’d be told if alcohol did that much damage?

The alcohol industry has been very successful in fending off effective regulation. The most recent example being the 40 odd lobbying contacts which resulted in the proposed new Alcohol Public health bill being watered down. Our politicians are not too clued in either, with not one but two bars in their place of work, Dail Eireann. This  sells cheap alcohol subsidised by us tax payers.

Also traditionally health care professionals themselves drink a lot, so they don’t  shout about this problem.  An example of doctors not leading on this issue is shown below.

social drinkers

 

For over 30 years, I’ve taken drugs that could damage my liver. I have regular expensive  blood tests to check my liver’s ok. In all that time I ‘ve had just one proper alcohol screen, despite the fact I’m at much higher risk of alcohol harm.

 

We’re beginning to wake up

Some doctors are now realising the problem and have set up the Alcohol  Health Alliance to get the public health bill implemented.  (We’re members of this group)

Irish people are becoming more aware of alcohol harm.

85%  of Irish people  now believe that the current level of alcohol consumption in Ireland is too high.

72%  said they know someone, who in their opinion, drinks too much alcohol.

 

The wealthier the country they more they drink.

It’s not just Ireland, though we’re at the top end of the scale for being big drinkers. The World Health Organisation found the wealthier the country the more likely they are to have an alcohol problem. It also found that most countries do not deal with the alcohol problem properly.

So watch the video in the next lesson, and find out how you can continue drinking without causing yourself problems.

 

Key takeaway

The majority of people who drink are doing so in a way that will cause problems now or in the future.

If you drink like everybody else does, you could be harming yourself.

 

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