Does drinking culture affect our drinking?

Well, had an amazing holiday travelling to Australia, New Zealand and Dubai and the chance to see how different drinking culture changes how much we drink.

Mardi Gra in Australia 

Landed in Sydney, the weekend of the Mardi Gra. So Saturday night hordes of happy chirpy characters wandering around in costumes from Little Bo-Peep to tiny little G-strings which left absolutely nothing to the imagination. I really enjoyed watching the parade and unlike Dublin city centre on a Saturday night there was no air of menace just people strutting their stuff and having fun.

Australians drink a lot but they’re behind us in the drinking stakes at 9.4 litres per person.

Chilled out New Zealand

Next to Wellington, New Zealand. Fantastic country with wonderful chilled out people.  They drink around the same as Australians at 9.4 litres.  The Kiwi’s I met did not drink much at all- one or two drinks on a night out. It was also lovely to be able to walk home from the city centre and feel totally safe.

Both Kiwis and Australians are drinking less now but there are concerns about the damage caused by drinking with the older age group doing most damge to themselves.

Drinking in Dubai

Stopped off in Dubai on the way home. A massive culture shock.  Public drinking is only allowed in hotels and restaurants. A licence is needed to buy alcohol in shops. Alcohol advertising is not allowed in Dubai. They bleep out words which refer to alcohol in songs played on the radio. At 3.8 litres per person their alcohol consumption is really low.

The Muslim religion forbids the consumption of alcohol. Muslim people are not allowed to work or support the alcohol industry in any way.

If we had not been staying in a hotel where alcohol was part of the package it would have been very easy not to drink.

While there are serious human rights issues in Dubai we could learn something from their approach to alcohol.

Drinking culture does affect how much we drink

So after an incredible holiday, sadly arrived back to Dublin. On one of my first nights out with friends drank more than I intended to. Again!  Never had that problem while I was away on holidays.

It’s just so easy to drink more than we want too in our drinking culture. Our society makes it very difficult to cut back on drinking. We drink more than any of the countries I visited at a massive 11 litres per person.

What to do?

So we can’t change how society views alcohol overnight. But we can help ourselves. Simply accepting that some of our drinking issues are caused by problems beyond our control can help us cope with them. Or as the Nagoski sisters put it

Just knowing the game is rigged can help you feel better straight away”

A thought that certainly made me feel better and not so stupid with my hangover.

Ruby says alcohol was holding her back

Ruby Warrington had it all, but felt something was holding her back. The former features editor of the Sunday Times Style magazine, founder of a digital platform called The Numinous was part of the in crowd. She hung out with celebrities and superstars drinking cocktails and champagne.

Everyone else was drinking

Ruby says she drank because everybody else was drinking and alcohol was presented as a tool to help her deal with life. From the age of just 15, Ruby says she was teaching her brain that she needed alcohol to cope.

My head hurt from drinking

Ruby never hit rock bottom or had any major life event. She just found on Sundays her head hurt, her stomach was sore, her tongue felt furry, and her hair felt both greasy and dry with her breath sour. On Sundays she felt like there was a hollow where her heart should be.

She decided to quit for a while

She decided alcohol was holding her back and quit for a while. She found she had more energy and motivation. Her relationships got better because she felt she was now connecting on a real human level not just through an alcohol haze.

It’s terrifying

Ruby says if we’ve been drinking our entire adult life, it’s a big part of our lives and giving up drink is terrifying. She believes as long as we hold a belief that alcohol just brings pleasure and joy, it remains in our lives. We agree. It’s why it is so important to understand our beliefs about alcohol and the pros and cons of our drinking.

She believes moderation does not work. We don’t agree, as everybody is different. See why here

Ruby’s useful tips

Ruby says don’t make a big deal of not drinking when you’re out. Offer to get the first round in and then you can buy yourself a soft or alcohol free drink without fuss. A useful tip.

She also suggests not to lie about why you’re not drinking. She tells people it makes her feel like crap and this works for her. Personally, I find it does not work for me, even though I had a major life threatening illness. People still want you to drink.

 Maybe it’s part of our Irish culture.

Sober curious

Ruby has written a book called

Sober Curious, the blissful sleep, greater focus, limitless presence and deep connection awaiting us all on the other side of alcohol”.

It’s getting good reviews and now she’s running a retreat in the US.

What is sober curious?

Apparently calling yourself sober curious means you know alcohol doesn’t make you feel great and you don’t drink it often, but you’re not willing to put an all-or-nothing label on yourself. So you only drink on rare occasions when you actually want to drink.

I like this idea of sober curious because it’s not black and white. It allows people to choose when and where they drink rather than drinking all the time or not drinking at all.

Where celebs go others follow

It’s good to see another celeb talking about their relationship with alcohol holding them back. Ruby joins other celebs not drinking like Nigella Lawson, Natalie Portman, Demi Lovato, Shania Twain, Jennifer Lopez to name just a few. Hopefully they are starting a trend that others will follow. Would n’t it be lovely if it was socially acceptable to just say I’m sober curious and leave it at that?

Taking action on your Christmas drinking triggers

Last week we wrote about identifying your Christmas drinking triggers, in this post we talk about taking action on Christmas drinking triggers.

As regular readers, will know it’s all  about the  planning.

Why is planning so important?

In our alcohol obsessed culture where drink is everywhere it’s very easy to drink too much. So it takes effort and advance planning to make sure we’re don’t get sucked down into the glug glug of boozy Christmas drinking.

Everybody’s different so what works for one person may not work for another. So thinking about what will work for you is really important.  Once you know what’s going to be  your Christmas drinking triggers you can take action. You might find these tips helpful.

 

Create an advent calendar

Creating an advent calendar covering those days which are most stressful for you can be useful. Lidl sell a range for just €4.99  were  you fill each day yourself. You can  use this to write little notes or reminders to yourself for different days. Or maybe even put in little gifts to help you stay focused.

To get you started, here‘s a calendar we came across that many people liked. It focuses on happiness.

christmas drinking triggers

 

Office Christmas parties

These can be a real killer as a Christmas drinking trigger. Everybody out to have fun, relax and in many workplaces there’s a free bar.  Not drinking means you can be seen as a real killjoy.

One way to avoid this pressure is to ring the venue in advance and see will they be serving no or low alcohol drinks. These can often look like the real thing. So you  look like you’re drinking when you’re not actually drinking.  Sneaky huh! For suggestions on low alcohol drinks see this post.

For even more tips on office parties click  here.

 

Family events can be real Christmas drinking triggers

If you’re part of a family where socialising consists  entirely of sitting around drinking, this can be very tough. It’s easier to take part then sit watching as the conversation gets more and more boring as people start slurring their words.

Also there’s usually one toxic family member present. I’ve heard one woman say we’re all encouraged to cut toxic people out of our lives, so why do we all feel the need to meet up with toxic family members at Christmas? It’s strange all right. So very important to keep our expectations of enjoying toxic family events low!

Here’s a few tips for family events we’ve heard you might find useful.

 

Arriving late

Not really good manners, but when the event is going to be a long drinking session, arriving late means you cut the amount of drinking time you spend there. And managing your drinking is much more important.

 

Bring any kids in the event for a short walk in the fresh air

I know we’ve been minding kids all year, so going for a walk in the cold, does not sound appealing. But I’ve found even a little break from the event does wonders.  It freshens me up, the kids can be really funny and I always go back in better humour. The other adults always appreciate you more as well.

(Did anyone see the wonderful Toy Show, I’d love a walk and  chat with so many of those lovely kids in particular Scott and Grace)

 

Make a bingo card

In Club Soda, one lady suggested making a bingo card. The bingo card has a range of different tasks on it. Like count the number of people at an event, or talk to someone who is not drinking. Or count the number of times someone mentions a particular word or phrase. Crossing off the bingo card when no one was watching made the event much more interesting.

 

Line up a friend

So  you know an event is really going to be full of   Christmas drinking triggers. For example, you’re going to feel really lonely in that crowded room because you’re the only one not drinking. Your sister in law will be making snide comments about your kids, while the brother boasts on and on about his new car.  So plan ahead and line up a friend that you can text or WhatsApp when you go to the bathroom. That way you can get a bit of moral support to help with  those lonely feelings.

 

Christmas is not perfect

So make your plans, but remember despite all the pressure around us to have the picture perfect Christmas it really is just another few days and we don’t have to be perfect or even to actually enjoy it!

What are your triggers for the Christmas drinking season?

Yep, that time of the year again, the Christmas drinking season is on us. When you’re trying to reduce your drinking or even not drink at all, it can be a very tough time.

 

Christmas is not a happy time for everyone

Memories of past Christmases can make life difficult. Loved ones that are now gone. For me, Christmas means the day services are closed. So I’ll be spending more time looking after my Mother who has Alzheimer’s and needs 24 hour care. I love her dearly but after eight years of care it takes a toll. For the first time ever, my daughter won’t be home from England, so can’t even enjoy her company. So I’m definitely not looking forward to Christmas and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

 

What does Christmas mean to you?

I find not pretending Christmas is a happy time really helps. The times when I do meet up with friends, or go out with my other daughter are more enjoyable because they know how I feel and we don’t pretend. So it’s useful to understand for yourself what does Christmas mean for you and not pretend it’s a happy time if that’s not right for you.

 

Are triggers an issue?

We’ve heard from many people who say the Christmas drinking season is the toughest time to control their drinking. All that pressure to be happy, all the parties and meeting ups. The feeling that if you don’t drink you’re an outsider and weirdo.

So identifying your specific triggers for the Christmas drinking season is really helpful

 

What are your triggers?

What are your specific triggers?  Could it be work Christmas parties, or is it particular family members, or putting up the Christmas tree. Even specific Christmas decorations can be triggering. I always find a Christmas decoration with all our names painted on it makes me feels really sad. I can’t bring myself to throw it away. So now I just put it in a separate box which I never open.

Is spending too much time with family a trigger? Or maybe tiredness after too many late nights or not sticking to your usual daily routine.

 

Start planning for the Christmas drinking season

So write down all your likely triggers by the 1st of December and then you can start planning how you are going to deal with them. That way you get to control your drinking and actually enjoy the Christmas drinking season.

In the next post, we’ll give some tips on dealing with these triggers.

You can also see more advice on Christmas drinking here.

My teenager is drinking

An interesting advice column on  “my teenager is drinking” issue recently. A Mother found her 16 year old son had been drinking at a friend’s family event and wanted to know what to do about it.

 

Keep the relationship open

The advice was good – try to keep a real and trusting relationship with your teenager while tackling the drinking issue and setting boundaries.

 

I’ve had the “Teenager is  drinking” problem myself

I’ve had this problem myself. My then 16 year went to a friend’s 16th birthday party, where the parents pointed to a slab of beer and said “help yourself”.  Initially I did not handle it well. I said

“ you do know that when a teenager  is drinking it is illegal, and they are breaking the law “

 

Report to the Police

She was terrified I was going to report the parent to the police! Eventually when I calmed down, we had a good conversation about teenage drinking.  I even sympathised with her that it was very difficult not to drink in Irish society at just 16. She was adamant none of the other parents had a problem the way I did.

 

A compromise

She was into sports at the time so we agreed she would use that as an excuse to only drink one or two drinks on very special occasions. We also agreed that if she did get into trouble she would ring me and I would come collect her. So as a single parent, this meant I could not drink when she was out in case I had to go collect her.

 

No friends to the house

That all seemed ok. Until I noticed her friends never came to the house to get ready for nights out. It turned out, unless they were allowed drink they were not coming to the house. This went on for two years.

 

A big night out

I was away for work one weekend and she wanted to invite friends over prior to a big night out. I was not too comfortable with a gang of teenagers in the house while I was not there.  No other house was available that night. So I agreed if there was no drinks and they had no other option they could use the house. This seemed to be ok.

 

A plaintive plea

Then while I was away, I got these emotional phone calls. All the friends were saying they would not come, unless they were allowed drink. Initially, I held my ground but she was really upset and felt she would be ostracised. Yes, I know teenagers can over dramatise but the friends had not been in our house prior to a night out for nearly  2 years at this stage.

 

Spoke to colleagues

My colleagues noticed I was taking all these long phone calls and asked what was up. Their response surprised me. They said to ask her what would she do if some of the friends drank too much and caused trouble.  My daughter’s response was very direct.

“Rub their face in the vomit and  use their dresses to  clean it up”

So chatting to the friends again, we agreed it seemed like my daughter would be responsible and maybe I should take a risk. I was still very nervous. At that time, as a single parent I felt like my parenting skills were always under scrutiny.  Accusations could be raised

“You let a group of 17 to 18 year olds drink unsupervised in your house”

 

Party Time for 17 year olds

I knew there would be a bad impact on my relationship with my daughter if I did not let her go ahead. So against my better judgement I decided to take the risk. All her friends came, they had a great time and when I got home the next day, the house was cleaner then I’d left it. My daughter was delighted and felt like I actually trusted her.

 

Keep listening and talking

We’ve had lots of good conversations about drinking since, including my own drinking! I  really did miss not being able to have a nice glass of beer when she was out. It forced me to look at how I used alcohol to relax.

 

Too strict?

I know many parents have a much more liberal attitude to drinking and maybe this would not be a problem for them at all. All the research shows though that the younger you are when you start drinking the more likely you are to have a drink problem and to move on to other drugs. Other parents will think I was mad to let a group of teenagers drink unsupervised in my home.

 

What’s right and wrong is not always clear

So I think the key lesson for me in this was to keep listening and tease out “what if” with my daughter. Understanding her as a young person who was strong minded, reliable, conscientious and could be trusted meant I could take a risk. Maybe it’s not the same for other parents if their  teenager is drinking. In which case they need to look at other solutions.

I’ve found John Sharry on parenting issues to be very helpful. The HSE have also just published new advice which you can find here.

 

The key lesson

As the article says if your  teenager is drinking

“The situation needs a long-term steady and reasonable approach that sets your son up as the self-managing person, you hope he will become.

I think this applies not just to young people  but to  us all. We need a long term steady and reasonable approach to managing our drinking. We can’t change the habits of a lifetime overnight.

For quick tips on how to get started take a look at this post.

 

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

 

Emma was a high flyer with a drinking problem

Emma Kinsella was a high flyer with a drinking problem. She  had graduated from college with a business degree and got a highly sought after job in one of the big four accounting firms.  On the surface everything was great.

She was passing her accountancy exams. She was getting good performance reviews. Life was busy and good. Inside though she was struggling.

 

A drinking culture

Emma started drinking in her 20’s. Fairly late by Irish standards. She had heavy drinking nights out in college, but always studied hard in between. In work, there were 12 hour working days with a post work drinking culture. Emma however preferred to go home to relax with a bottle of wine. She did not realise this was the start of a drinking problem.

 

She stopped drinking

Although sometimes she felt her drinking was a little high, she had no problem stopping when she got pregnant. She had a difficult labour and suffered from post-natal depression. But she could not put into words

“How I was feeling or how overwhelmed I was”

 

A major drinking problem

Drink helped Emma turn off her emotions. However it stopped working and she started to drink more and more. Her drinking problem became a major issue. She ended up in St Pat’s psychiatric hospital, Cluan Mhuire, then the Renewal addiction centre. Her partner left taking  their son with him.

 

She was a nightmare patient

Emma describes herself as a “nightmare patient” She just kept drinking again and again.  This makes me really angry because Emma had what is called a dual diagnosis. She had both a mental health and addiction issue. But health services see these as totally separate issues, so she kept being told they could not treat her mental health until her drinking problem was under control. As Inside Rehab says

“addiction is the only area of health care where we blame the patient when the treatment does not work”.

 

Emma was failed by the healthcare system

So I’m angry because Emma could have suffered a lot less. The healthcare treatments she received did not meet her needs. They also missed another major issue.

 

Emma‘s childhood experience

When Emma was just 3 years old, the sexual abuse started. It was a relative. Emma blamed herself and thought everybody knew.  She carried a lot of guilt. She blocked out these emotions and never disclosed what had happened to all the different health care professionals she met.

 

Difficult childhood experiences

Difficult childhood experiences ( the experts call these Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACE) are well known to be a cause of drinking problems. However  our treatment systems do not look at this. They ask

“What’s wrong with you?”

 Instead of

“What happened you”?

They don’t create a safe space for people to tell their stories and take the first step in healing.

Until our treatment systems change, people like Emma will continue to suffer more than they need to. Treatment systems need to become “trauma responsive”, as the experts say.

 

Emma made a great recovery

Eventually Emma  got the right type of help. Now she’s got her relationship with her son back. Her ex-partner  trusts her again. Emma shows even the most severe drinking problems can be fixed with the right help.

 

Is your drinking problem caused by childhood trauma?

So if you’re having difficulty getting your drinking under control, consider whether your childhood experiences might be an issue for you. It does not have to be as horrific as Emma’s story. It could be something like childhood emotional neglect. We’ve written about this here. It’s very common in Ireland.

So as brave Emma’s wonderful story shows never give up hope. Change is always possible.

 

Like this post?

You can read Emma’s full story, written by Sheila Wayman here.   

You can find out more about the role of childhood experiences in alcohol harm here.

You can find help on finding the right treatment here.

 

Photo Dara mac Dónaill

How will the Alcohol bill affect Irish drinking?

Last week we described how the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which aims to reduce Irish drinking was delayed yet again.

 

Good news at last

Well the good news is this week, after another long winded debate the bill actually passed thought the Dail. There was even a round of applause after the bill passed.

A small number of TD’s attempted to delay the bill yet again. Many with personal connections to the alcohol industry.

 

Reducing Irish drinking

Minister for Health, Simon Harris said:

“This is the first time in the history of our State we have endeavoured to use public health legislation to address issues in relation to alcohol. It is therefore a ground-breaking measure.

“For the very first time in our history we are legislating for alcohol as it affects our health and it is right and proper that we do that.

“We know that we have a relationship with alcohol in this country that is not good, that damages our health, harms our communities, and harms many families,” he said.

“The measures in this bill will make a real difference to change the culture of drinking in Ireland.”

 

How will this affect me?

So how will this affect drinkers?  Well, there will be health warnings on alcohol and alcohol will have to be sold in a separate part of the shop.

The biggest impact though is something called minimum unit pricing.

What this means is the price of alcohol will be related to how strong the alcohol is.

To set the minimum price for a particular alcohol product, you find how much the drink weighs in alcohol strength and multiply it by 10 cent. The Bill uses a specific formula.

 

A bottle of wine will be €7.10

So taking a bottle of wine of 750ml with 12% strength.

That would give

750 *.12 * .789 (figure specified in bill) which gives 71.01.

Multiply this by 10 cents and it gives a price of €7.10

So retailers won’t be able to sell this bottle of wine for less than this. It will mean selling wine below cost  as a discount sales offer can’t happen.

 

A bottle of vodka will be €20.71

Taking a bottle of vodka say, 700 ml and 37.5% strength. This would give

700 * .375 * .789 giving 207.11.

Multiply this by 10 cents gives €20.71.

So this will be the minimum price of vodka. While vodka’s normal price is €25 and upwards, there are often special offers which reduces the price below this. You can even get it free sometimes as seen below.

irish drinking

Check out your tipple of choice

So using the formula you can now calculate how much minimum unit pricing is going to affect you. If you drink mainly in a pub or wine bar it’s unlikely to have any effect. If you normal pay €12 euro for a bottle of wine, you won’t pay more. However all those special deals for low priced drinks will disappear. No more €4 euro bottles of wine which were €12 euro.

 

Minimum unit pricing is pretty clever

A basic law of economics is the lower the price the more people will buy. (Except when it’s something like a designer handbag which has appeal because it is so expensive and exclusive)

So what minimum unit pricing does is encourage people to buy alcohol with a lower alcohol strength because it will be cheaper.

Young people tend to buy the cheapest alcohol because they  have less  money. People with a drinking problem tend to buy the cheapest alcohol because they drink so much.

So now  these groups will tend to buy lower strength alcohol as it will be cheaper. Lower alcohol strength means less harm. So minimum unit pricing is pretty clever as unlike excise duties it targets people who tend to drink too much.

 

Can the minimum unit price change?

The aim of the bill is to reduce Irish drinking to levels suggested by the World health Organisation.

irish drinking

So if  Irish drinking  does not fall, the Bill gives the Minister the power to review the minimum unit price in 3 years’ time.

 

A final word

We got some fairly aggressive emails for our support for the bill.  Shows the level of support for our alcohol culture. But we also got some lovely emails thanking us for campaigning for the bill. So thanks to those people. You know who you are.

 

 

 

Bad week for the Public Health Alcohol Bill

The Public Health Alcohol bill which we wrote about here was back in the Dail this week. It’s now 1,000 days since the bill was first proposed. In that time over 3,000 people have died from alcohol related harm.

 

Alcohol kills more people than suicide

As we’ve written before alcohol harm kills more people than illegal drugs and suicide.

Public Health Alcohol Bill

So you would think the bill which is aimed at reducing these deaths would be treated urgently. But no, two other bills, the Good Friday Pub bill and Craft brewery opening hours bills  have been introduced after the Public Health Alcohol bill and  are now law.

 

The Public Health Alcohol bill came back into the Dail

It was hoped the bill would be approved by the Dail on Wednesday. The debate started in the evening and ran for over 4 hours. A small number of deputies kept talking with total misinformation.

Michael  Healy Rae- Yes- he of the publican family, that thinks overgrown hedges kills more people, thought the bill was aimed at young people only.

In fairness, Stephen Donnelly, the Fianna Fail spokesman on health withdrew his amendment as he did not want to delay the bill. He also admitted to now being aware of the links between alcohol and cancer.

Louise O Reilly also proposed a useful amendment to start detailed tracking of alcohol related harm.

 

The Bill does not pass

With all the hot air, though the debate ran out of time. As one commentator said

“Listening to the filibustering and misinformation in the Dail by a handful of Deputies.

We have been apple picking in orchards in childhood and down the Wild Atlantic Way”

You can watch the full dispiriting debate at this link here- (pick Wed 27th Sept)  if you have masochistic tendencies, or you can pick up the speeches here.

 

The media role

The media did not cover themselves in glory either. Disgracefully, Virgin Media asked Michael Overgrown Hedges Healy  Rae to present a current affairs programme dealing with the Public Health Alcohol bill. Healy Rae missed a Dail vote to do this. There was no mention of his conflict of interest. However Senator Frances Black did a great job defending the bill. You can see a clip here.

Gerry O Sullivan, questioned Healy Rae ‘s appearance as a current affairs presenter on Kerry Radio and got a lot of abuse for his troubles. Link here.

On Twitter, the political editor of the Irish Times, Pat Leahy said he could only watch the debate with a half bottle of claret. (Smart Pat, you’re not binge drinking ). This generated multiple  replies mainly along the lines of

“It would drive you to drink, all right,”

and

You’re going to die, we’re all going to die.”

Very few of the replies were active supporters of the Public Health Alcohol bill.

 

Alcogenic Culture?

So if you’re trying to manage your drinking, our alcogenic or drinking environment does not help. All the messages are drinking is fun, sexy, entertaining and that life without drink is boring and uninteresting.

It can be very hard not to absorb these messages. It makes trying to reduce drinking very difficult as  discussed here  and here.

 

It’s changing though

There are signs of change though. 92% of the public do support the bill.

Public Health Alcohol bill

 

Minister Simon Harris has committed to bringing the bill back into the Dail next Wednesday. Hopefully the Government will stand up to alcohol industry pressure.

So just keep reminding yourself, your thinking is more informed than many of our TD’s and media. You know alcohol is a problem.

 

Motivation wavering?

And if you feel your self-belief or confidence weakening try reading some of our writer’s stories on our blog. For example

MSBG writes about “how living in Ireland made her  drink more to be accepted by Irish Friends

Irvine says “  he can’t live in Ireland as he drinks too much.

Siolta writes ” on her fears of  being seen as no craic ” if she does n’t drink

Beanyneamy writes ” on drinking away the Irish stereotype

Or just watch the very funny Irish intervention.Over 4 million people have enjoyed it so far.

 

Drinkers like me is worth watching

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.

 

PS

If you’d like tips on reducing the harm caused by alcohol click here.