NHS to slash safe drinking limits after new evidence reveals how alcohol is linked to certain cancers

And a lovely Daily Wail headline!

NHS to slash safe drinking limits after new evidence reveals how alcohol is linked to certain cancers including breast and bowel

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The NHS is set to slash its safe drinking limits following new evidence that alcohol causes cancer.

Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies is to overhaul the guidelines on the maximum daily and weekly amounts of alcohol that should be consumed by men and women later this year.

The current recommendations – which are almost 30 years out-of-date – tell men to have no more than three to four units a day, the equivalent of a pint of strong lager.

Women are told to drink no more than two to three units, which is equivalent to one large glass of wine. The NHS’s weekly limits state that in total, men should not exceed 21 units and women 14.

But these were drawn up in 1987 and since then there has been an increasing body of research linking relatively small amounts of alcohol to several types of cancer.

It appears to have a particularly strong relationship to breast cancer and some studies have shown that just one glass of wine a week raises the risk by 15 per cent.

Researchers say as many as 1 in 5 cases of breast cancer are caused by alcohol and it has also been linked to cancers of the mouth, throat, liver and bowel.

Doctors believe the existing safe limits are too high, and even the experts responsible for drawing them up 28 years ago admit they were ‘plucked out of the air.’

Dr Kieran Moriarty, a consultant gastroenterologist and spokesman on alcohol for the British Society for Gastroenterology, which involves illnesses of the stomach and intestines, said the evidence that had emerged in the last two decades had been a ‘game changer.’

‘The big difference that has been recognised since 1995 is the association between alcohol and cancer.

‘One unit a day or less than one unit a day is associated with an increased risk and the cancer that is seen as the most sensitive is breast cancer.

‘Alcohol is associated with cancers elsewhere and there is generally no safe level.

‘That is the new game changer in this and that will need to be incorporated into new assessments. I’m pretty sure the sensible limits will be scaled down, if they are going to go on the evidence. The harm starts off at lower than 21 and 14 units.’

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, spokesman on alcohol for the Royal College of Physicians, said: ‘Alcohol is classified by the World Health Organization as a class 1 carcinogen (cancer-causing agent).

‘You can’t say it is safe.’

Doctors also want the guidelines to tell women not to drink in pregnancy as alcohol can cause babies to suffer behavioural problems brain damage, deformities.

Currently they are unclear and state women can have one or two drinks, once or twice a week.

In the past six years Canada and Australia reduced their safe daily alcohol limits to levels lower than the UK, to take account of the new evidence on health risks.

Canada’s state that men should have no more than 15 units a week and women just ten while in Australia, all adults are told not exceed two units a day.

Experts say the Government will follow suit by lowering guidelines later this year and they may also include recommending several ‘alcohol-free’ days during the week.

The Royal College of Physicians want the public to be told not to drink on at least three days of the week while other researchers say they should have a minimum of two.

Professor Rajiv Jalan, who specialises in liver diseases at University College London, said damage could be caused to the body in men drinking just three units of alcohol a day, well within the government limits.

He carried out an experiment in which twin brothers drank 21 units of alcohol a week for a month, screened last month on BBC Two’s Horizon series.

One was binge drinking and the other stuck to the government limit of three units a day, but signs of inflammation in the body – linked to cancer – were found even in the twin who was drinking within the daily limits.

He said: ‘We think 21 units (a week) is probably not safe for men. What we found is that it creates an inflammatory response.

‘The person who was binge drinking was terrible but the person who was not bingeing, who was drinking three units a day, was also compromised at the end of the month. It (the safe limit) is almost certainly less than it is stated at the moment.’

One unit a day or less than one unit a day is associated with an increased risk and the cancer that is seen as the most sensitive is breast cancer
Dr Kieran Moriarty, consultant gastroenterologist

Katherine Brown, director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, which aims to promote the health risks of drinking, said: ‘Since the British guidelines were established, more data has become available about the health risks associated with regular drinking, including the relationship between alcohol and cancer.

‘The World Health Organization advises there is no safe level of drinking for cancer prevention, so we would expect our updated guidelines to include this information so that consumers are able to make informed decisions about their drinking.’

Only last week Alcohol Concern – one of the key alcohol charities – launched an awareness campaign alerting the public to risk posed by alcohol on cancer.

Jackie Ballard, its chief executive, said no amount of alcohol was ‘safe’. She added: ‘Alcohol has cancer causing properties and it’s important that people are aware of the risks associated with its use. ‘

And in 2007 Dr Richard Smith, a member of the Royal College of Physicians panel which drew up the guidelines in 1987 said: ‘Those limits were really plucked out of the air. They were not based on any firm evidence at all. It was a sort of intelligent guess by a committee.’

A Department of Health spokesman confirmed the guidelines were being ‘reviewed’ and would be published later this year.

15 units a week for men and 10 for women, with no more than 2 units a day total.  How many others will now fall into the category where their drinking is considered unsafe with these potentially lower guidelines?  Or will they just be derided and ignored as they pretty much are now?

Friday Sober Jukebox – We Come One

So tomorrow I’m hitting another sober first.  I’m going to a festival – a dance music festival to be precise.


This triggers all kinds of anxiety even though I’m coming up two years clean and sober (no pun intended!)  Why?  FOMO running wild – I’m in recovery from alcohol and drugs and this will be a binge of immense proportions for many other people there and I’m going in armed with Red Bull only.

Euphoric recall will be front and centre potentially triggering cravings because  I have only seen the headliners whilst off my t*ts in the past and the overriding thought will be: Can I have as much fun experiencing them straight-edged? We come one but I’ll be the odd one out again …..

But I read this article which helped calm my fears :)

I went to a music festival sober and this is what I learnt

So I have a plan – text buddies on call, red bull in hand, I’m driving and I will leave it all gets too much.  I’ll report back on how it was in the next week but I suspect it will be better than any other time I have ever seen them because I will be present and remember it all.  I’m going in …….. 😀

PS Brene Brown’s new book Rising Strong launched 3 days ago and I’d advocate reading all of her books – and am looking forward to reading this one myself!!


Double bubble bonus as serendipity strikes again!!  Tim Ferriss today also released his interview with Brene Brown that you can listen to here:


Just two drinks a day can increase risk of developing breast cancer by 18%

A new factsheet from Alcohol Concern, released on Monday 22 June, looks at how alcohol increases the risk of developing breast cancer.

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Breast cancer is by far the most prevalent and one of the most lethal cancers for women in the UK. It affects around 1 in 8 women in the UK during their lifetime.

Surveys show that less than half of the British public know of any link between alcohol and cancer, and less than a third of a link between alcohol and breast cancer. However, lifestyle choices – in particular, alcohol – can have a substantial impact on the risk of developing breast cancer.

The factsheet highlights:

  • In 2011, 3,000 of the breast cancer cases were directly attributable to alcohol consumption
  • Each drink per day increases the risk in women of developing breast cancer by between 7% – 12%
  • Alcohol has long been known to have carcinogenic (cancer causing) properties, and more than 50 studies have confirmed alcohol is a particular risk factor in the development of breast cancer
  • The exact causal mechanism between alcohol and breast cancer is not fully known – but it is likely due to the way alcohol breaks down into toxic chemicals in our body and increases the production of the female hormone oestrogen.

Jackie Ballard, Chief Executive at Alcohol Concern, said: “Alcohol has cancer causing properties and it’s important that people are aware of the risks associated with its use.

“Although there is no ‘safe’ level of alcohol consumption, sticking to government guidelines is a reliable way of minimising alcohol-related health risks. The recommended limit for women is 2-3 units a day, and for men 3-4 units and everyone should have 2-3 alcohol free days each week.”


Notes to editors

This factsheet is the third in a series to be published by Alcohol Concern, highlighting the risks alcohol has on different health conditions.

The factsheet has been funded by a grant from the Pink Ribbon Foundation – a grant making trust with a mission to fund projects and provide financial support to UK charities which relieve the needs of people who are suffering from, or who have been affected by breast cancer or who work to advance the understanding of breast cancer, its early detection and treatment.

And to add to the impact Balance North East have created this brilliant video advert which should be on national TV.

Updated to add: Balance North East responded to this blog post on Twitter saying:

Thanks for the mention – great blog – we have more info of alcohol and cancer at

Lots more facts over there and I’ll be adding it to my resources.  Thanks Balance North East!

Drinkline statistics (5)

So the final piece of data (see previous 4 days posts here) relates to how people find out about Drinkline and referral on by this service.

Drinkline front page

Media Source (Top 5)

51% of all callers in July stated that they found the Drinkline number after searching for it online. 25% obtained the number after looking it up in the phonebook. 9% of all valuable contacts in July stated that they were referred to the helpline via another organisation. 7% of valuable callers found the number via either a leaflet or word of mouth.

Tier 2 Summary

(To briefly explain Tier 1 is non specialist services, Tier 2 is specialist services within the community, Tier 3 is specialist MDT services within a clinic environment and Tier 4 is specialist day and inpatient care)

All calls to Drinkline are handled by a front line team of tier 1 advisers who triage queries, assessing the information and advice required and escalating to a tier 2 team for further in depth advice and information if necessary. In July, 181 calls were assessed as requiring a transfer to tier 2. 128 of these calls were successfully transferred, 6 callbacks were arranged and the remainder did not wish to leave their details and agreed to call back.

Local Signposts (Top 10)

If a caller requires further assistance or advice, the adviser can signpost the caller to an organisation in their area by accessing our database of alcohol services. 578 local services were offered to callers in July, representing 66% of all valuable calls handled this month.

National Signposts (Top 10)

Advisers also have access to a database of national services that can be provided to callers who require further information or advice. In July, 29 calls were provided with the details for Drinkline Scotland. 14 were signposted to Alcoholics Anonymous and 12 callers were signposted to DAN 24/7 which is a helpline for callers who live in Wales. In total, 101 national signposts were provided this month.

I was discussing this data with Laura from Club Soda and we were struck how the existing PHE support focuses on the Change4Life programme, you access an alcohol brief intervention via your GP surgery or you call this helpline who can triage you to community services.  Then there is nothing until you require medical intervention to stop via hospital admission, community detox or rehab (either local authority or privately funded).  So you have Tier 1 and 2 and then 4 – no Tier 3 service.  The majority of people drinking and calling this service have nowhere to go with this issue – which is why I’ve designed the How to Quit workshop that I run in collaboration with Club Soda.  Next London date is on Saturday 26th September and you can book your place here :)

Edited to add: Serendipitously this arrived in my email inbox today:

Use of online recovery resources – survey

A survey looking at what online resources people use related to substance use, and at what stage they are in their recovery. The aim of this is to create a document for recovery and health services about what online resources are available for service users and which resources provide the most beneficial outcomes for those at different stages in their recovery | Breaking Free Online, UK

I’ve filled it in as they are looking at all recovery resources so now is the time to big up your favourite resources to spread the sober love :) Oh and it’s completely anonymous 😉

Drinkline statistics (4)

So day 4 (you can read day 1 here, 2 here and 3 here) and now we turn to the real meat of the Drinkline data – alcohol consumption, frequency of use and caller concerns.

Drinkline front page

Alcohol Consumption and Frequency of Use (1/2)

Of the callers who disclosed the number of units consumed in July, 85% of all callers stated that they drink over 15 units when they drink. 74% of callers this month stated that they drink alcohol every day, 14% of callers drink most days of the week and 7% drink twice a week. 2% of callers this month disclosed that they either drink once a week or less than once a week.

  • 74% of callers drink every day
  • 14% of callers drink most days of the week
  • 7% of callers drink twice a week
  • 2% of callers drink once a week
  • 2% of callers drink less than once a week.

When broken down by frequency of consumption for each caller, 75% of people in July stated that they drank over 20 units of alcohol every day. 74% of callers who drink between 15 and 20 units revealed this month that they drink this amount daily. Similarly to June, nobody who contacted the service in July said they drank less than 4 units of alcohol.

Topics Discussed (Top 10)

As was the case with topics discussed in June, most people calling about themselves discussed their own physical health in July (33%) and the majority of concerned others wanted to discuss the implications of alcohol use on their family (37%). 21% of individuals discussed family this month and 13% discussed relationships. 22% of concerned others discussed physical health and 19% discussed relationships. The top 3 topics discussed across both individuals and concerned others have not changed when compared with last month.

So the primary concerns were health and social implications and this remains the trend.

What shocked me about the consumption data was that the majority were drinking over 15-20 units every day.  This is a heavy psychological dependence or a probable physical dependence, requiring medical detox support.  And 50% of these are in full time employment so quite possibly getting into their cars and driving to work.  Just like I used to ……

Are you surprised by this data like I was?

Drinkline statistics (3)

Following on from yesterday’s and Sunday’s post the Drinkline data now turns it’s attention to caller demographics.

Drinkline front page

Caller Demographics: Gender

252 (50%) individuals who contacted the service in July were recorded as male and 248 (50%) of individuals were recorded as female. This compares to the gender split of concerned others of 79 (25%) who were from males while 241 (75%) were from females. This trend of an equal split in gender for individuals and the majority of concerned others being female is in line with the trend reported in June.

The caller had stopped drinking for a year, but was struggling with cravings again after a stressful situation which he did not disclose.

The adviser congratulated the caller on stopping and staying stopped for a year. There was no Tier 2 adviser available so I asked the caller if he remembered how he had dealt with stressful situations throughout the year and if he remember the advice his support worker had given him. He said that he used to drink coke. It became apparent that he did not have any in the house so he agreed it would be a good distraction to take a walk to buy some, assuring me that he would not be tempted to buy alcohol. I invited the caller to call back if he required further support. He said he would call when he needed to and thanked me for the support when he needed it.

Caller Demographics: Age

Similarly to last month, most individuals who contacted Drinkline in July were aged between 26 and 55 with 71% of individuals recorded as such. 11% of all individuals this month were aged 25 and under. 19% of all individuals this month were over the age of 56. 54% of all concerned others who contacted the service in July were aged over the age of 46. This is to be expected considering that the majority of concerned other calls come from parents calling on behalf of their children.

Employment Status (Top 5)

The employment status that make up the top 5 in July are the same as the employment status found in the top 5 last month. The only difference is that the order of the top 5 has altered slightly; 44% of valuable contacts said they were in full time employment and the most likely employment status advised by callers in July. Unemployed was the second most popular employment status in July with 16%, this is up from third place in June. Retired has dropped to third place with 14% of callers saying that they no longer work. 7% of callers were unfit to work and 6% were self employed.

Motivation To Call

46% of all people who disclosed their motivation to call the service in July did so as they wanted to stop drinking altogether. 44% of callers this month were concerned others who called to discuss the drinking habits of someone close to them. The remaining 10% of callers to Drinkline in July wanted to discuss the possibility of cutting down on the amount of alcohol consumed.

So the highlights for me in this set of data was the fact that the split has moved to 50:50 women to men.  When I nursed on an alcoholic liver disease ward, granted 10 years ago, the split was 60 men: 40 women.  This supports the latest research evidence we’ve discussed before on this blog. 54% of the callers were over the age of 46, very close to my age when I stopped.  50% were in full-time employment/self-employed.  46% wanted to stop.

So the caller could have been me – female, same age, working full time, wanting to stop …… Maybe it’s you reading this?  You could always give them a call :)

Helpline: 0300 123 1110 (Mon-Fri 9 am – 8 pm, weekends 11 am – 4 pm)

Drinkline statistics (2)

Continuing on from yesterday’s post today we turn our attention to caller type data from the PHE Drinkline statistics.

Drinkline front page

Caller Type

511 (59%) calls to Drinkline in June were from individuals calling for themselves.

324 (38%) of callers in June were concerned others

Of the callers that were profiled as concerned other 77 (24%) were parents calling for their children’s, 72 (23%) were partner’s concerned by their spouse’s drinking. 68 (21%) were other family members such as cousins or aunts, 43 (14%) were children contacting out of concern for a parent or guardian and further 53 callers were another person known to the person they were concerned for. Only 3 calls (1%) were from professionals looking for advice and information for a client.

An example of a concerned other call was included:

Caller was extremely stressed about her 43 yr old son’s behaviour when drinking – which was always to excess. He is aggressive and threatening when he drinks, with police having been involved on one occasion. His father locks himself in a room when he knows his son is coming home at night. The son is also completely unreasonable and unwilling to discuss it when sober and very angry when the subject is brought up.

It was suggested to the caller that she could take advice from her own GP about her son’s behaviour which she described as bizarre, paranoid and like an angry young child. Local addiction projects were mentioned but she felt that she could not contact them in the meantime. She said she may call back for more support in the evening when a Tier 2 adviser may be available.

24 (3%) calls were from organisations. Organisations will typically contact the service for general information, fact finding or to request literature

Contact Breakdown

1,402 of the 1.462 calls that arrived to the service in July were handled by an adviser. This gives a strike rate of 96% for the month. Of the 1,378 calls that were profiled in July, 879 (64%) were recorded as valuable, where the caller was provided with general information, a quick discussion or an in depth discussion. 499 (36%) calls were recorded as playful, silent or hoax calls.

Having volunteered at the Samaritans I have the experiential insight to tell you that this level of playful, silent or hoax calls is not unusual.

What worried me about these set of statistics were the part that I’ve highlighted in bold pertaining to children calling about parents and guardians.  I would like to know whether these calls are flagged and triage offered to something like Childline so that this child is supported with counselling and the data can be recorded and reported.  I did state my concern in my reply email to PHE but never had a response so the question remains unanswered.

Tomorrow we’ll look caller demographics such as gender, age, work status and motivation to call.  Any thoughts?




Drinkline statistics (1)

At the end of last year Prim and I approached the UK agency who manage Drinkline about their helpline.  Prim had done a secret shopper phone call to them to find out more about their service and this left us curious for more details.  Over the next week of posts I will cover the Drinkline stats that Public Health England (PHE) kindly shared with us via email.  These are a snapshot in time looking at the month of July last year.  We are sharing the detail that was shared with us in it’s original form as the report from SERCO, who manage the phone line for PHE, was very detailed.  Why are we sharing it?  Because it shows that there are many people using this NHS provided phone line and looking for help.  That we are not alone in our issue with alcohol.

Drinkline front page

Drinkline Monthly Demand Breakdown

1,462 calls arrived in hours to Drinkline in July. This is an increase of 188 (15%) when compared with the 1,274 calls that arrived to the service in June. Demand has decreased by 66% this month when compared with July 2013 although arrival patterns have kept a similar shape between April and July 2014 when compared with 2013. Demand has steadily decreased between May and June 2014, a trend which can also be seen when looking at the same months during the previous year.

Daily Breakdown

1,462 calls arrived in hours in July which is an average demand of just over 47 calls per day which is an increase of 4 calls per day when compared to last month, June 2014.

The busiest day in July was Wednesday the 2nd of July with 120 calls arriving to the service on this day. Demand on the 2nd of July equates to just over 8% of all monthly demand to Drinkline.

4 minutes and 31 seconds was the average duration of a call in July. This is a decrease of 14 seconds when compared with June 2014.

Demand By Day Of The Week

Call arrival patterns in July have changed when compared with last month. In June, the majority of calls arrived on a Monday with demand decreasing towards the end of the week. In July however, demand peaked on a Wednesday with 341 calls arriving in hours to the service on this day. Demand then decreased by 3% on Thursday then by a further 7% on Friday.

Demand By Hour

Unlike call arrival patterns by day of the week, hourly arrival patterns have stayed relatively consistent this month when compared with June. The majority of calls received in July were between the hours of 11am and 3pm accounting for 50% of all demand to the service. 21% of demand arrived between the hours of 9am and 11am which is a 1% increase when compared with June. Demand decreased each hour between 3pm and 8pm with 29% of demand for July arriving between these times.

So to summarise:

Drinkline received a total of 1,462 calls for the month of July, which averages out at just over 47 a day but on their busiest day they received 120 calls.  The average call time lasted just under 5 minutes.  Monday used to be the busiest day of the week (which logically makes sense) but it had shifted to Wednesday.  The hours of 11am to 3pm were their busiest time but demand remained for the hours before and after.

Now one could argue that this isn’t very many people when compared to the population of the UK, and PHE told me that “Drinkline is one of the least active of the lines we operate”.  If the service was more widely publicised would it be utilised more?  Yes you can find the number in many places online for example here:

Helpline: 0300 123 1110 (Mon-Fri 9 am – 8 pm, weekends 11 am – 4 pm)

If the phones were manned for longer hours would it be utilised more?  I volunteered for the Samaritans for 5 years and our busiest times were always overnight, and particularly at the week-end.  I appreciate that they are very different phone line support services but I’m just wondering out loud.

As funding for both Public Health and the NHS is squeezed further the likelihood of this services hours being increased are slim, with the very real possibility that they may be rationalised further as is happening to Stop Smoking services already.

What are your thoughts about the data and our musings?

Edited to add: since posting this on FB Laura from Club Soda shared this comment:

“Drinkline is no longer advertised because promotion of it has been cut in the communications budget”

Unbelievable ……. :(


Hangxiety or boozanoia anyone?

So it would seem a new set of terms have been coined for what we used to call ‘The Fears’ or ‘Beer Fears’ and has pitched up in the Daily Wail.  Thanks to SWANS for bringing this article to my attention :)

Beer fear

Yikes! What DID I say last night? Now that post-party paranoia has a name – meet the women haunted by hangxiety

Amanda Whyte spent her 40th birthday party in April chatting, laughing and dancing with family and her closest friends in a room she’d hired, and decorated for the occasion, at her local village pub.

Later that night, she settled down to sleep feeling happy and loved — confident that her guests had all had a fabulous time.

However, just three hours later, at 3.30am, Amanda, a mother of two, sat bolt upright in bed, her heart thumping and her pulse racing, in the throes of a terrifying panic attack.

‘I was gripped by this intense fear that I’d done or said something dreadful —made an utter show of myself — at my party,’ recalls Amanda.

‘I was convinced that my guests had been appalled, thinking I was mutton dressed as lamb, stumbling around on the dance floor in my high heels.

‘My husband, Ian, sleeps like the dead, but I shook him awake and said ‘Did I act like a complete idiot last night?’

‘He said: ‘No, you were great — now go back to sleep!’

But Amanda knew from bitter experience that she would be unable to calm her thoughts enough to fall back to sleep. Instead, she spent the next four hours playing back her memories of the night in an attempt to figure out what terrible thing she had done or said to her nearest and dearest to leave her feeling so panic-stricken.

When nothing specific sprung to mind, she checked her Facebook and Twitter pages, terrified she had written something offensive, then her phone, to see if she had sent any texts or emails she would bitterly regret.

In fact, Amanda had caused no offence to anyone. But, like many women, whenever she has more than a couple of alcoholic drinks, she spends the following day — sometimes whole weekends — suffering anxiety and paranoia.

So common are these feelings that there are now numerous words to describe them, including ‘hangxiety’ and ‘boozanoia’.

‘The anxiety the following day is so crippling that I’ve stopped accepting invitations to parties and events,’ says Amanda who lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband of eight years, Ian, a management consultant, and their children Sam, six, and Savannah, four.

‘I was made redundant from my job working for an international multi-media company and my colleagues had to drag me along to my own leaving do because I was so terrified of what I call the ‘screaming horrors’ the next day.

‘When one of my close friends turned 40 recently I didn’t want to let her down so I turned up at her party with a present, then left at 8pm so that I wasn’t tempted to have a few drinks and then spend the rest of my weekend in a panic. ‘I haven’t given up drinking entirely, but I just cannot risk it when I’m out in case I’m tempted to have a lethal extra glass.’

‘The feelings of negativity can be so powerful that they lead to panic attacks with physical symptoms sometimes terrifying enough for people to fear they are having a heart attack.’ 

Alarmingly, for some, instead of being a reason to drink less, this can trigger a dependency on alcohol as it becomes a formula for silencing their inner-critic.

However, according to Dr Robert Patton, an alcohol researcher and lecturer in clinical psychology, a ‘hair of the dog’ is not the answer.Alcohol can inhibit production of the feel good neurotransmitter serotonin, leading to low mood and anxiety.

This is true for Sara Perry, 44, who says that as well as feelings of ‘pure paranoia’, she feels ‘sad and depressed’ the day after she has consumed alcohol.

‘I usually wake at 5am with this vague feeling I have upset somebody or done something I regret and, when I can’t figure out what it is, the anxiety just builds,’ says Sara. ‘It’s like the devil on my shoulder, following me around all day, impossible to shake off.’ 

Sara, who works in education training in Manchester, says she began suffering from boozanoia in her 30s and believes a couple of factors may have been responsible for triggering it.

A friend with whom she worked in China in her early 30s would have perfect recall of their nights out and remind Sara of things she had done or said, which she often had little or no memory of.

Then, in her late 30s, she rowed with her mother after drinking the best part of a bottle of wine and the upset that followed took a long time to heal. Ever since, Sara has woken after nights out ‘racked with feelings of guilt’.

Dr Derek Lee, a clinical psychologist, says the reason these feelings are so recurrent is that alcohol slows down the nervous system, making us less anxious.

Then, as the alcohol is leaving the body, usually around 3am to 5am, the nervous system cranks back into life and worries can appear more intense than ever.

Mother-of-three Tanya Raven sometimes suffers memory lapses after nights out and, worried that she becomes overly affectionate after more than two drinks, wakes terrified of photographs appearing on Facebook of her flirting with men, other than her husband.

Tanya, 36, a support worker from Nottingham, says husband, Dan, 37, a tee-total personal trainer, can be relied upon for crystal-clear recollections of their nights out together.

‘It usually takes a few hours for me to pluck up courage to ask him, but then he’ll say: “It’s fine. You didn’t do anything embarrassing”.’

Nonetheless, after three boozy parties over the past two months, Tanya cannot face another and plans to decline future invitations.

Dr Robert Patton says that severe anxiety after a night out should be seen as a sign that you’ve overdone it.

‘Alcohol interferes with the part of the brain associated with impulse control so we can end up behaving in ways we wouldn’t sober,’ says Dr Patton. ‘It also causes dehydration, symptoms of which — the shakes, dizziness, confusion — feel like anxiety.’

But, for occasional drinkers, like Amanda, Sara and Tanya — and many more women besides — knowing when to stop to avoid hangxiety is the tricky part.

As a side note I remember Lucy Spraggan on the X-Factor singing brilliantly about this very thing!  I cried every time I watched this.  2012 – still drinking and knowing the truth of her words.  Lucy if you’ve had enough of the beer fears you know where to find me LOL! 😉

PS Day 700 😀

Friday Sober Jukebox – 23 months today :)

So this is a request by Jimsdad and it’s a lovely tune so thanks Jim :)  If there is a tune that you’d like me to play just stick it in the comments and I’ll cue it up!

south park moveIt’s been a bumpy couple of weeks.  Now I remember why I last moved almost 7 years ago! Fortunately we had good weather but the stress did induce regression in me and prompted some fairly South Park like behaviour (Cartman anyone?!)  The stress of packing up the old house, move day, then unpacking at the new house stretched itself over almost a month and that level of chronic stress can really be our undoing – particularly if we are in early sobriety.  God only knows how I would have coped if I didn’t have almost 2 years under my belt?  In fact it’s a month today to my 2 year soberversary!

So the move is done, the unpacking is almost complete and my routine is returning to normal.  Last Friday I started to meditate again as a matter of urgency.  As Prim said to me recently it’s important for our emotional fitness in the same way that running is important to my physical fitness.  The minute I indulged in some me time to run and meditate, calm in my brain and body began to return.  That night no pub either – a glass of AF red, a chocolate bar and a gentle film on Netflix and I could feel the anxiety of it all start to drain away.

So this track continues that soothing theme :)

I have to say that this has been the biggest test of my emotional sobriety to date and I feel like I made it by the skin of my teeth.  As far as sober firsts go, this is monumental and I wouldn’t recommend moving house in the early stages of sobriety to anyone by choice!  But maybe like most other sober firsts, now that I’ve done it once, I’ll be better prepared for next time and will make sure to build in some ‘me’ time as part of the process – though I bloody hope moving again is a good few years away yet! 😉