Daily Archives: 03/10/2014

Wake up call for mid-life drinkers

Chris Highcock recently shared this article from the Daily Mail in the comments under another blog post and I felt it deserved sharing as I found some of its content interesting.

It is written by the Australian journalist, Amanda Platell and reads: wake up call for mid-life drinkers. Like so many women of her generation, Amanda saw drink as her friend but now she’s realising the toll it’s taken on her emotional well-being and her looks.

She goes on ‘we didn’t see our drinking as bingeing; it was a civilised form of drinking we describe as ‘social’ and, therefore, entirely acceptable. How wrong we were. The over-45s are becoming a burden on the over-stretched NHS, with alcohol-related conditions such as strokes, cancer and heart disease on the rise for this age group.   Some medics are even concluding it can bring on early-onset Alzheimer’s.

I doubt many middle-aged women like me truly appreciate what long-term, slow damage we’re doing to our bodies with our ‘social drinking’.  And it’s not just social boozing. For women my age, many in the throes of divorce or coping with the stress of caring for grown-up children and ageing parents — or just dealing with the realisation we’re halfway through our lovely lives — alcohol can be a form of self-medication.

It was my growing recognition of these dangers that inspired me, a few weeks ago, to jump on the wagon for the first time in my life. I’m in good company: TV presenter Carol Vorderman has been on it for months and looks ten years younger as a result.  My skin is clearer, my moods more even, and I’m sleeping like a baby. I’ve also got lots more energy, which has not gone unnoticed by my appreciative boyfriend.

This is the bit that really piqued my interest though:

At the gym, a woman came up to me and said I looked slimmer and then asked the inevitable question: ‘How did you do it?’  ‘I gave up booze,’ I whispered.

I say whisper because no one admits to giving up alcohol as there’s so much pressure to drink and also the fear they’ll assume you were a lush.  That’s why a lot of people become secret abstainers. Lots of my old drinking buddies are confessing they’ve been sipping mineral water furtively for months, but have been too ashamed to admit it.

Going out with friends has been the real test. You don’t realise it until you’ve stopped, but alcohol is everywhere and there is a subliminal pressure to drink and not be a drag on other people’s enjoyment.  Friends are always pouring you a glass and saying: ‘Go on, just have one’ or ‘Don’t be boring’, as though you’re some kind of social pariah.

Why is there so much shame and secrecy around not just stopping drinking but even cutting down the amount you drink?  If you were on a diet and trying to lose weight or a smoker and trying to give up you would get support and cheers but giving up drinking temporarily or permanently is met with suspicion or people even try to derail your attempts.  I just don’t get it if this is what makes you feel happier about yourself.  This so needs to change about our culture and society.

PS This is veering dangerously off topic and I don’t want to stir a political debate as that is not what this blog is about. However as a nurse I feel passionately about the NHS and as the current govt are intent on privatizing it I call this just desserts.  It has had over 1.3 million views since it was published and went viral 2 days ago so I guess I’m not the only one who thinks it’s worth a view 😉 (contains strong language!)