Monthly Archives: July 2015

Forgotten holidays and lost birthdays leave English drinking underestimated

Researchers say English drink equivalent of 12m bottles of wine a week more than they thought because surveys overlook alcohol-heavy celebrations.  Good old drinkers amnesia – the alcohol dependents friend 😉  This would be laughable if it wasn’t so bloody serious but yes we underestimate how much we drink ……


The Guardian reported that:

Alcohol consumption in England has been underestimated by the equivalent of 12m bottles of wine a week because surveys turn a “blind eye” to drinks swigged during holidays, weddings and birthdays, researchers have warned.

Most research focuses on “typical drinking” and does not account for alcohol-heavy celebrations, according to scientists at Liverpool John Moores University, an oversight they claim could have important implications for public health.

Their findings – based on normal drinking patterns and those outside usual circumstances – suggest every week the equivalent of over three-quarters of a bottle of wine for every drinker goes unaccounted for.

Lead scientist Dr Mark Bellis said: “The problem is that surveys usually ask about typical drinking. This means summer holidays, bank holidays, weddings and many other special occasions when consumption often increases are left out.

“As a result, nationally we underestimate how much we drink and as individuals we can turn a blind eye to our heavier drinking periods when we calculate personal consumption.

“For many people though, these sessions add substantial amounts of alcohol to their annual consumption and inevitably increase their risks of developing alcohol-related ill-health.”

Drinking alcohol is related to about 200 different health conditions and in 2012 was responsible for 3.3m deaths worldwide.

The researchers, whose findings are reported in the journal BMC Medicine, conducted telephone interviews with 6,085 randomly selected members of the public in England.

Most categories of drinkers, based on age groups and levels of typical consumption, reported increased consumption during holidays or special occasions. The biggest increase was seen in 25- to 35-year-olds, who had the highest level of typical consumption.

People in this drinking category drank an extra 18 units (144 grams) of alcohol a week on special occasions.

James Nicholls, from Alcohol Research UK, said: “Patterns of consumption have a significant influence on the health impacts of alcohol.

For instance, it is widely recognised that any protective effects of moderate drinking on the heart are cancelled out by heavy drinking episodes.”

So as The Telegraph also chimed in:

Data from these studies in England accounts for only 60 per cent of the alcohol sold in England, according to experts from John Moores University, Liverpool, and Bangor University.

Lead author on the study, Professor Mark Bellis said: “nationally we underestimate how much we drink and as individuals we can turn a blind eye to our heavier drinking periods when we calculate personal consumption.”

Shock horror meets no sh*t sherlock.   When as healthcare professionals we doubled whatever you told us you drank or smoked – well we were pretty close.  If people are under-reporting by 40% we weren’t that far off were we?  Oh boy, we are so seriously in denial about our drinking problem in this country …..

Worrying is using your imagination to create something you don’t want

So a while back feeling mentioned ‘The Law of Attraction’.  This was a concept I don’t remember hearing about before so off I went to the local library to see what I could find.  The heading of this post about worrying comes from Abraham Hicks and you can subscribe to a Daily Quote from them here.


And you know how one book leads you to another?  Well having read two books about it I then heard about ‘The Untethered Soul’ and boy oh boy was this an eye-opener.  This book really blew my mind!!

If you are working on meditation and changing your inner landscape then this book is for you and you can find further details at

And of course he’s been on Oprah! 😉

Author Michael Singer says spiritual growth can begin by silencing the negative thoughts in our minds. Watch as Michael shares a spiritual solution to use to regain inner peace when thoughts become distracting.

I am working really hard to practice what he suggests and much of it chimes hugely with Andy over at Headspace and what he advocates 🙂
The longer time goes on and the further into my recovery journey I go I realise that putting down the drink was just the tip of the iceberg of the path I was on and it is ALL good.  Over Easter I had a difficult family experience and although I recognised the anticipatory anxiety and the post event emotional hangover at no point did the thought of picking up a drink even cross my mind.  I was desperate to meditate instead!! 😀
Anyone else read this book and care to chime in?


Employers pledge support to improve workers’ health

This was featured in The Guardian in May and looked at how businesses are starting to recognise their public health role, with almost 400 signing up to a Department of Health ‘responsibility deal’ to improve workers’ health.

Working-age ill-health costs the UK economy an annual £100bn, so there are clear business benefits for employers to improve the health of their workers.


Wellbeing initiatives can prevent absenteeism and improve productivity. The government-sponsored Frost/Black report in 2011, for example, outlines how avoidable sickness absence could be tackled through early intervention with occupational health support, including physiotherapy.

Employers are starting to recognise their public health role; almost 400 organisations have, according to latest figures, pledged support for the Department of Health’s public health “responsibility deal”.

The voluntary pledge involves businesses and public-sector bodies promising to take action in four areas: alcohol, food, health at work and physical activity. A report in March by the House of Commons health committee, which looked at the impact of diet and physical activity on health, underlined the role of the responsibility deal, adding that it could have even more of an impact if it was supported by more regulation.

Camden and Islington NHS foundation trust has joined the responsibility deal’s health pledge. Promoting public health among healthcare professionals is vital. According to the government’s 2009 Boorman Report, more days are lost through staff sickness in the NHS than elsewhere in the public sector, with sick leave costing the health service £1.7bn a year. In addition a report last year by Arthritis Research UK revealed musculoskeletal problems are a major cause of ill health among NHS staff, costing about £400m per year.  “We need to practice what we preach,” says Zipporah Jempeji, the trust’s human resources, wellbeing and benefits manager.

This is definitely a step in the right direction and I wonder how many workers will feel safe about approaching their employer about alcohol issues?  Would you have?

What does the future hold for alcohol policy under a Tory government?

So a couple of months have passed since the General Election and the sense of shock about the outcomes has subsided somewhat.  As the dust settles we need to consider how the Tory govt will address alcohol policy in the next five years.  This is what the Institute of Alcohol Studies had to say:


Party quiet on public health measures including minimum pricing in manifesto

Alcohol policy faces an uncertain future under a newly elected Conservative government as it decides how it will run the country for the next five years.

Despite having a half a dozen mentions of the word “alcohol” itself, the Party’s manifesto for the 2015 UK General Election failed to detail specific evidence-based alcohol policies that it might implement, such as minimum unit pricing, to prevent alcohol related health and social harm, that currently costs the UK economy more than £21 billion each year. Instead the document focussed on its commitment to dealing with alcohol dependency and addiction as some of the root causes of the UK’s social and health problems, crime, and poverty. The sole targeted aim mentioned in the manifesto promised to “make sobriety orders available to all courts in England and Wales, enforced through new alcohol monitoring tags”. This is despite the fact that the pilot schemes are yet to be concluded.

According to Alcohol Policy UK, the Conservatives’ 2015 manifesto adopts a more cautious tone towards alcohol policy compared with five years ago, when the Party set out plans to introduce the so called ‘below cost ban’, as well as pledges to ‘overhaul’ the licensing regime.

However the Morning Advertiser has already reported that the Tories have pledged licensing fees for the majority of pubs would be frozen and reviewing business rates to support small firms. This hints at a continuation of the business-friendly approach that the Party has taken since it formed a Coalition government with the Liberal Democrats in 2010.

Track record

In this time, the Conservative Party’s record on alcohol policy has left little for public health advocates to cheer. Its flagship initiative, the controversial Responsibility Deal (PHRD), encouraged partnership with the industry in formulating health policy. But many public health groups left the PHRD on the basis that business interests appeared to take priority over public health goals, with no evidence to suggest that industry pledges had led to reductions in rates of alcohol harm.

However, the former Coalition government continued to work with the alcohol industry on this self-regulatory initiative, while successive Public Health ministers have held meetings with industry representatives lobbying for fiscal policy changes that would undermine long-term alcohol policy on health, including the premature abolition of the alcohol duty escalator by Chancellor George Osborne in the 2014 Budget.

And although the government introduced a below-cost sales ban on alcohol in the previous Parliament, some health groups see that measure as inferior to the much-contested minimum unit pricing. In the 2012 Alcohol Strategy, Prime Minister David Cameron wrote: “When beer is cheaper than water, it’s just too easy for people to get drunk on cheap alcohol at home before they even set foot in the pub. So we are going to introduce a new minimum unit price.”

However, following a lengthy consultation process, the Home Office decided not to introduce minimum unit pricing for the time being, reckoning that it “[did] not yet have enough concrete evidence that its introduction would be effective in reducing harms associated with problem drinking… without penalising people who drink responsibly.” This is despite commissioning a study from the University of Sheffield that showed how the policy would, at the mooted 45p per unit, be up to 50 times more effective than a below cost selling ban, and have a minimal impact on moderate drinkers.

Fast-forward to today, and the Conservative Party appears still reluctant to mention the minimum unit pricing to the UK electorate. Speculating on the possibilities for introducing the measure, Alcohol Policy UK’s article notes that: “with minimum pricing hardly a vote winner, early in the parliamentary term is when less popular policies may be more likely to be implemented.

“Scotland’s long running MUP battle is however still being dragged through the European courts, so any other Government is unlikely to attempt it before the verdict. Least of all the Tories one would assume, given their infamous minimum pricing u-turn.”

The Conservative Party as the leading partner of the Coalition government has garnered a reputation for prioritising business interests by lowering alcohol taxes while encouraging light-touch regulation for other policy areas such as advertising, which has posed serious problems for public health organisations at both national and local level.

Given this track record, it remains to be seen how a fully Conservative government will be able to reconcile its ambition to reduce rates of premature avoidable mortality, reverse the increasing burdens on the NHS and emergency services, and grow the economy from its current precarious position over the next five years, without pursuing head-on evidence-based alcohol policies such as minimum unit pricing.

Yes Scottish alcohol policy would have been boosted by the OECD report, which is good news ahead of EU Court ruling.  As for the UK I won’t be holding my breath ……….

Drink Half A Bottle Of Red Wine Before Bed To Lose More Weight

Shall I explode now or at the end of the post?  Hmm ……

These kind of articles make me spit feathers and I know it’s not just me.  Thank you to the kind person in SWAN group on FB who shared this.  It’s an article on the oxymoronically named (in this case anyway) Healthypage and it relates to the subject of how drinking half a bottle of red wine before bed will help you to lose more weight.

Craving sweets before bed, but don’t want to ruin your diet? Well, feel free to pour yourself a glass of wine instead!  Yes, really—you can drink wine and still lose weight, according to a recent study at Harvard University.

Over the course of 13 years, the researchers studied about 20,000 women and found that those who drank half a bottle of wine a day (the equivalent of two glasses) were less likely to become obese than the women who didn’t.

Need more proof? 47-year-old Linda Monk didn’t believe the results either, so she decided to try conducting her own little study.

After drinking a glass of wine every night for three weeks, Monk says she’s lost more than 6 lbs., and her sugar cravings have practically vanished.

“My long-held desire to snack on sweets, biscuits and chocolate after my dinner has disappeared and the relaxing effect of the alcohol makes me feel that, despite cutting back, I’m not being hard done by,” she said, according to the Daily Mail.

The key, experts believe, is moderation. Though some research claims that a glass of red wine can contain as many calories as a slice of cake, many say it’s a better substitute for carbs and high-sugar snacks.

In fact, the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism concluded that “when alcohol is substituted for carbohydrates, calorie for calorie, subjects tend to lose weight, indicating that they derive less energy from alcohol than from food.” 

A glass or two of red wine has been shown to curb cravings, satiate appetite, and help drinkers feel more relaxed, which means less eating and an early bedtime.

However, just like anything else, drinking too much wine before bed can also have the opposite effect.

If you allow yourself to actually get drunk from your nightly wine, you could end up craving more sugar, sleeping poorly, and waking up hungover the next morning.

To really fight your cravings and sleep better, treat yourself two one—even two—glasses of red wine every night! Most health experts agree that red wine is better for weight loss, as is contains more powerful antioxidants than white wine.

Half a bottle of wine a day?  That completely goes against the advice we use in the UK which recommends 3 non-drinking days a week.  That would also be classed as binge-drinking every day here too as half a bottle would be about 6 units, depending on the ABV of the wine.  So you might not end up with a fatty liver through diet but you’d have one from alcohol consumption instead.  I haven’t read the original research so I don’t know who funded it but I would want to know the answer to that question next …..

Alcohol and the family

Thanks to Paul over at The Alcoholics Guide to Alcoholism for sharing this and I’m resharing again as I like it so much 🙂

Alcohol and the family is something that resonates for me.  My father is a recovering alcoholic of almost 30 years and my step-father was a daily drinker.  The potential addiction was in my blood and alcohol was in my house as I grew up – a loaded gun as I call it ……

Click to enlarge

Some of the statistics in this infographic are staggering and I never stood a chance against booze really.  I shall be sure that when my children are older they will be told and know that their genes mean they are greater risk with alcohol for addiction and I shall watch carefully and advise accordingly.

MUST LISTEN BBC live interviews with recovering alcoholic

This was shared recently and although listening to all the podcasts will take several hours it so warrants your time and attention.  I listened to them again only yesterday and I cry every time I hear her.

I am alcohol image

It is the live interviews of a 44 year old women who first called into the radio programme 15 months earlier when she was still drinking and waiting to go to rehab later that day.  She is a Consultant Anaesthetist but was suspended for drinking while on call and is awaiting the outcome of being reported to the GMC.  Her partner had her arrested for drink driving and she is awaiting her court case regarding this offence also.  She attended three stints of rehab since appearing on the show initially and finally hit rock bottom in the December.  Having been a heavy drinker for 10 years, she was psychologically addicted to alcohol when she first called in but then went on over the next year to becoming physically addicted and then required medical detoxes.  She’s now 4 months sober and she returns to the show to talk about her disease, her experience and her fledgling recovery.

Victoria Derbyshire speaks again to Rachel, the doctor with an alcohol addiction who first called the programme in February 2011.

Victoria Derbyshire visits Rachel

I found these incredibly moving and her very brave for doing this.  As one of the people who calls in says instead of an anti-alcohol public health campaign this interview should be aired nationally for all to hear as it demonstrates the impact that alcohol has and the consequences of the disease of addiction.

Give it your time and if you’re worried about your drinking maybe it’s time to reach out for help like Rachel did.

Plus I received this email from Annemarie Ward, CEO of Faces & Voices of Recovery UK, yesterday asking for help to spread the word about the next UK Recovery Conference prior to the UK Recovery Walk in Durham in September.

UK Recovery Walk 2015

Dear members, friends and supporters,
Please see below a link to our Conference, the day before the walk, we need some serious promotion of it. We would be very grateful if you could please share the link with your workmates and your social media profiles – here is the link:

You will be pleased to know that uptake of places for the sleepover in Durham cathedral the night before the walk are going very well so please book your place ASAP

Please continue to promote it too using this link.

I will be sending you all our annual report as soon as its signed off by the trustees and dont forget you are all welcome at our AGM Party (attached) and also see posters for the conference and sleepover attached too.

Cant wait to see you all in Durham soon.

No Friday sober jukebox today as this interview is too important to bump for a music video.

Edited to add: since posting this someone has shared with me that Rachel has died.  I had no idea when I wrote this post.  This is the podcast of the tribute that Victoria Derbyshire recorded:

A tribute: Rachel’s battle with alcohol



Dry January to Dry Life

This was featured on Alcohol Concern and is a guest post from someone who used the springboard of Dry January to try a Dry Life!

Dry January to Dry Life!
Dry January to Dry Life!

It may have started nearly 5 months ago now, but we still love to hear your Dry January stories! Here, Joanne Munro tells us about why she took part Dry January 2015, and how it’s impacted her life so far… 

Back in December, I was a typical example of the mother who reaches for her first glass of rosé whilst simultaneously burning dinner, tripping over the dog, emptying the washing machine and resolving conflicts between her offspring. Then I realised that “wine o’clock” had become an automatic reflex that wasn’t so much a pleasure as a habit. When exactly did a daily habit become an addiction?

I didn’t find an answer to my question on internet, but I did find Alcohol Concern’s website and a challenge called “Dry January”. I liked the idea – an opportunity to prove to myself that I had more self-control than a four-year-old who’d been forgotten in a Cadbury’s warehouse. If I was addicted, I’d be clawing my way up the curtains in despair within days.

So I signed up. Over the month, my resolve was considerably strengthened by Dry January’s Facebook page and the determination and solidarity of those taking part – the challenge worked a charm because people can encourage each other and be accountable to each other.

The aim was simple on paper: give up alcohol for one month. As I’m an eternal optimist, I added an hour of exercise every day for good measure. I quickly worked out a circuit through the local vineyards (I live in France, the land of wine temptation) – that’s what you could term Dry January karma. When attempting abstinence for the first time in twelve years, sunshine and great countryside proved ideal to lift this trainee teetotaller’s spirits.

The first week, I surfed the virtuosity wave. I was a disdainful diva, even declining champagne on the beach to toast in the new year. By the middle of the second week, however, the queen of self-control and restraint was glowering, Gollum-like, over her glass of Perrier and lime as hubby savoured his beer.

After two weeks the cold turkey wore off, and the first benefits kicked in. I was in bed snoring shamelessly before ten and was awake before the alarm at 6.15. My skin was looking better. I had more energy, and was proud of myself for sticking at it.

Although weight loss wasn’t a decisive factor for me, I lost 5lb in the first month and I have now lost nearly 10lb and banished three inches of muffin top from my waistline. Like many other people on Dry January’s page, my problem was the inexplicable desire to replace my evening dose of wine with a pile of pains au chocolat in front of the TV.

Yet in the long run, less wine meant less nibbles. I realised how alcohol opened up my appetite and made me reach for those salty nibbles. Less alcohol = less nibbles. Less nibbles = less weight. Not exactly rocket science, but a winning equation nevertheless.

It’s now 3 months on, and “Dry January” has become “Dry Life”. Having doubted I’d last the month, I see no reason to go back. So I’m half-way through my new challenge, C25K. Thank you, Dry January!

New alcohol-free cafe in Glasgow opens its doors

And another dry bar/alcohol free cafe arrives on the scene – this time in Saltmarket in Glasgow 🙂

Cafe Gro
Cafe Gro

Cafe GRO, based at 15 St Margaret’s Place, will host live music and quizzes throughout the week and offer a space for recovering addicts and members of the public looking for a booze-free night out.

Owner Donna Campbell, who has been in recovery herself for the past six years, says she found it difficult to find a late night spot to socialise without being surrounded by alcohol.

“I was a single mother to three kids and forced to go to help by social services,” she said.

“It was hard to fix the problem as I was so ashamed but my children were neglected and I was terrified that they would be taken away from me.

“If we don’t talk about alcoholism more freely it will continue to be shameful to some people so I’m excited at the potential that the cafe will have.”

“As I’m in recovery myself and there weren’t really any alcohol free spaces in Glasgow that I could go to with entertainment and club events,” she continued.

“The problem of alcoholism in Glasgow is huge so this is somewhere to relax but support the recovery community.”

As well as the social aspects, the pub will create opportunities for people to get involved in volunteering and employment.

“Those who are in recovery need a focus, so these opportunities are a good way to give people aspirations and goals in their lives,” said Donna.

“There also aren’t many career opportunities for those that are in recovery as they have often led a chaotic lifestyle.

“As they don’t have much of a CV and have a few gaps in employment, Cafe GRO offers people a place to volunteer and train in business and catering.

“It’s good to get support and experience at the cafe – we hope to lead people into jobs by getting experience here.

“This is not a recovery cafe though – this is just a cafe but the recovery community will hopefully add to it.”

Cafe GRO won’t just be aimed for people in recovery though; the venue caters for those who are too young to go to pubs and people who avoid alcohol for religious reasons.

The pub will be a not-for-profit organisation with extra cash being put back towards the addiction recovery unit.

Three cheers for Cafe GRO and Glasgow! This now compliments the Serenity Cafe in Edinburgh which opened in 2009 and you can visit and find out about here

Serenity Cafe Edinburgh

Edited to add 25th June 2016:

Inside a Recovery Café

You might have heard of a ‘recovery café’ before, but as more and more are springing up over the country, we wanted to ask – what are they? And what’s it like inside?  Recovery cafes provide a place for people to come, be welcomed, and socialise – without alcohol. Brent Clark, from the Spitalfields Crypt Trust (SCT), gives a flavour of what the recovery café ‘Choices’ in East London is all about in this week’s Blenheim Blog | Blenheim Blog, UK

And now in Edinburgh! Feb 2017

A new alcohol free bar DRY opens in Stockbridge, reports the Scotsman. Former whisky company owner Jamie Walker developed an alcohol problem but now wants to show that ‘it is possible to go out and have a grown-up fun evening in an alcohol-free environment. DRY was in response to a trend for non-alcoholic beverages among increasingly health-conscious millennials claim its owners.


French bartender sentenced after customer drinks 56 shots and dies

This news piece was featured in The Independent in May and covered the death of a customer who drank 56 shots and the trial of the bar owner for manslaughter.


A French bar owner is standing trial for manslaughter after one of his customers died after drinking 56 shots of spirits, after he beat the bar’s previous record of 55.

The 56-year old customer, named only as Renaud, was with his 22-year old daughter and some friends in the Le Starter bar in Clermont-Ferrand, in central France in October 2014, when he made his attempt to beat the record.

Renaud drank 44 shots, and according to Renaud’s daughter, was then encouraged to keep going by the landlord of the bar, who whispered “only 12 to go”.

He drank the remaining shots, consuming just over a litre of spirits, and had a cardiac arrest after being carried back to his home. He was rushed to hospital, but died the next day.

The landlord of the bar today stands trial to see if he bears any responsibility for Renaud’s death, after Renaud’s daughter Julie decided to bring the case forward.

Previously, the record was written on a blackboard behind the bar of Le Starter.

A Facebook page calling for the closure of Le Starter, which was set up shortly after Renaud’s death, posted a picture apparently taken in the bar, which has Renaud’s record written on it, with the date that he consumed the fatal amount of alcohol written above.

Julie’s lawyer, Antoine Portal, told BFM TV: “The owner served the father of my client when he was not in a fit state to understand what he was doing.”

“It is not known whether he would still be alive if he had not drunk the last 12 shots, but by downing those last shots, he was left with no chance.”

However, the bar owner’s lawyer, Renaud Portejoie, said: “No one forced the client to take on the challenge.”

Speaking to RMC radio, Portejoie said: “When you are the owner of a bar and an order has been placed, you cannot always check who is drinking what. We cannot stand behind every customer.”

“The customers are responsible for themselves as are their families and friends.”

Speaking to La Montagne, Julie said: “I really feel that in the end the boss bears a real responsibility in all this.”

She added: “I hope we will know the truth, and that this drama will open more people’s eyes to the dangers of alcohol.”

The trial took place and this was the news coverage of the sentencing and verdict:

A French bartender has received a suspended jail sentence after he was convicted of manslaughter for letting a man down 56 shots during a drinking contest that led to his death.

Renaud Prudhomme, 56, broke the in-house shots record last October at Starter, a bar in the central French town of Clermont-Ferrand.

He had spent the evening with his daughter and some friends who helped him home in his inebriated state, but they soon had to phone emergency services. He died in hospital the following day.

Bartender Gilles Crepin, 47, admitted at an earlier hearing that he had made a mistake by displaying the shots record on a noticeboard, encouraging the victim to go too far.

He was given a four-month suspended sentence by a local court on Wednesday and banned from working in a bar for a year.

His lawyer said he would appeal against the ruling.

“It’s a decision guided by emotion and the unconscious desire to set an example,” said Renaud Portejoie, who had called for the case to be thrown out.

Portejoie said his client bore no responsibility, that it was the man’s daughter who had pushed him to break the record and that he had existing respiratory and alcohol abuse problems.

“We can’t ask every customer who buys alcohol to present their medical certificates,” he said.

Antoine Portal, a lawyer for Prudhomme’s daughter, said she was not at the bar at the time of the drinking competition.

“My client is relieved by this decision,” he said of the ruling forbidding Crepin from working as a bartender. “We want to remind some professionals that it is illegal to serve alcohol to clients who are in an advanced state of inebriation.”

A suspended jail sentence after he was convicted of manslaughter.  Wow I am speechless.  What kind of message does this send exactly?  What are your thoughts?