Category Archives: Thinking about stopping

Being drunk in charge of a child can get you arrested

So this was featured in The Independent in July and was picked up by Alcohol Policy UK.   After a Russian heiress was found guilty of being drunk in charge of a child, the Independent dug out the 1902 licensing act.

The Summer’s social calendar is already in swing events from family barbecues to village fetes already lining up. However, while drinking when in charge of children at family events is common practice, it is also actually a breach of the law.

With even David Cameron leaving his eight-year-old daughter behind at a pub back in 2012, parents drinking while looking after their children is an everyday occurrence. But a century old law forbids the behaviour.

Being drunk while in charge of a child under the age of seven is illegal according to the 1902 licencing act. The law states that a fine or up to a month’s imprisonment would result if “any person is found drunk in any highway or other public place, or on any incensed premises, while having the charge of a child.”

“The threshold would be whether the child was compromised. If you’re having lunch with a couple of glasses of wine, you probably wouldn’t be considered drunk in charge of a child,” solicitor advocate Joy Merriam tells The Sun.

Being alert and capable of safeguarding your child are the key responsibilities that could be compromised by drinking irresponsibly. If parents are unable to look after their children and protect them from physical harm they could be committing the offence.

“There is no fixed amount under the current legislation, but it could certainly be argued that if you are an adult solely responsible for a child, it is better not to drink alcohol at all,” family lawyer Jo Shortland tells The Independent. 

However, Ms Merriam adds that in cases of this type where parents are arrested on suspicion of the offence, prosecutions are infrequent and most commonly passed on to social services.   

“Those responsible for children need to consider their own limitations and take a sensible approach to alcohol consumption,” family lawyer Deborah Heald tells The Independent. 

The charity Drinkaware also released the following advice for parents: “Drink within the low risk alcohol unit guidelines of not regularly drinking more than 14 units per week for both men and women, and spreading them evenly over three days or more. This shows your child that adults can enjoy alcohol in moderation.”

Edited to add: I suspect this includes if you are drunk on a plane!

Revealed: The growing problem of drunk and abusive fliers – and the worst routes for bad behaviour

Panorama: Plane Drunk (BBC One Panorama 8.30 pm tonight)

 

Hidden Signs Of Alcoholism – Interactive Priory Awareness Campaign

So it is the second week of the summer holidays and for many of us with children this can be a trying time as we juggle work, childcare and the family holiday.   We might drink more to cope or we might drink more while celebrating the relaxing of rules because it is the school holidays.  We might be trying to keep our drinking hidden so they don’t notice or we may just give up entirely and not care at all.  I swung between every one and all of those positions and feelings back in the day!

I’ve had the interesting experience this last week of my children going away on holiday for a week with their grandparents leaving us footloose and fancy free for the first time in 11 years!  In the past this would have been a green light to an absolute booze fest – no kids for a week would have mean’t the brakes were well and truly off with no one watching us so it’s been valuable to see how far I’ve come since 4 years ago.  It’s been pub lunches with lovely AF drinks, cake and tea out, cinema & chocolate, nice meals at home but no late nights getting shitfaced and days wasted in bed with a hangover – and no noise generators but ourselves, how lovely 😉

So recently The Priory contacted me about their new interactive awareness campaign and I thought I’d share it here.  Over to them:

I am writing to make you aware of an educational campaign that we are running to educate the public on the often hidden signs of alcohol addiction, through the use of an interactive web page.

Alcohol dependency is a condition that over a million people deal with in the UK (NICE). In fact, the NHS estimates that 9% of men and 4% of women in the UK are dependent on alcohol – however most don’t seek help.

Alcohol has also been identified as a causal factor in more than 60 serious medical conditions including heart disease and liver disease, various cancers and mental health problems (Public Health England).

With this in mind, we have developed an interactive campaign for interested parties to link to from their websites.

As one of the UK’s leading independent providers of alcohol rehabilitation and support services, we are committed to helping people overcome their addiction to alcohol and start their journey towards recovery. Our consultants treat people from all walks of life – often it is those you least expect who are struggling.

Our campaign is based on helping people to spot the signs of alcohol addiction, and we thought your audience might find it a useful support should they be worried about a partner’s, friend’s or relative’s drinking.

We would be delighted if you would add the item to your website:

www.priorygroup.com/the-addiction

Disclaimer: I have no vested interest in The Priory Group and have received no payment from them for sharing this email nor is this a recommendation from me to use their services.  It is purely just help to spread the word of their most recent campaign.

What do you think of their interactive web page?

10 things you only know if you’re teetotal

I normally steer clear of sharing these kind of lists on the blog but this one I read in The Telegraph in May I quite liked 🙂  As the post title suggests it’s shares the insights that we have because we are teetotal (another label I’m not terrifically keen on!)

According to the latest data from the Office of National Statistics, teetotalism is on the rise, with 21 per cent of Brits claiming not to drink at all, and almost half drinking less than they previously did. 

As any teetotaller like myself will tell you, the release of stats such as these are always very encouraging (more sober people to speak to at parties!), but somewhat hard to believe. Twenty one per cent may be a notable increase, but it still places us alcohol-shunners firmly in the minority, marginalised from social norms. 

Here are 10 things you only know if you don’t drink. 

1. You get tired of explaining your reasons for abstaining

You go out, someone mentions drinks, and offers you a glass of wine. “No thanks, I don’t drink” you say, in the hope that, as a mature adult, they will respect your choice and move on. No such luck. “You don’t drink? What, not at all?” they cry in disbelief. “Why?” Once you reel out your valid, personal reasons for the millionth time they are still unlikely to be satisfied, and you find yourself contending either with knowing smiles and patronising comments such as “Ah, I just need to introduce you to a good red wine” or a glazed look of incomprehension, as if you’ve just revealed that you are in fact part-martian.

2. You end up finding ways to make it look like you’re drinking

Once you realise that choosing not to consume liquor proves too much for many of your acquaintances to handle, it becomes clear that a more peaceful evening can be had if you avoid the subject altogether. So you either ask for tap water because you’re “thirsty” or secretly order virgin cocktails, and hope that everyone will mistake your San Pellegrino with ice and a slice for a G&T. After several rounds, no one else will notice that you’re still sober, anyway.

3. You can remember all of your birthday parties…

…as well as those of your friends and any weddings, christenings or graduations you may have attended. There is no need to check Facebook or text someone to find out what happened last night, because, being alcohol-free, your memory is preserved. Rather than looking back on a haze of vodka-fuelled antics and missing belongings, you’ll remember the details: the conversations, the laughter, and all the fuzzy emotions. No embarrassment, and no need for an early morning walk of shame. 

4. You can have productive Saturday and Sunday mornings

The benefits of living without hangovers cannot be underestimated. You can go out for an evening safe in the knowledge that, come the morning, you will be able to go about your business as usual without reaching for sunglasses, paracetamol or the nearest paper bag. Days do not need to be written off in advance for recovery, and you can fill your time with other things you enjoy. 

5. You appreciate deep and meaningful​ late night conversations 

All teetotallers know that, once the evening has past a certain point, maintaining any kind of serious conversation with a fellow reveller can become nigh-on impossible, as they segue from discussing Brexit to describing their socks, and complaining about that ex who would always leave toothpaste in the sink. Finding someone at 11pm who is sober enough to have a still have lucid conversation is a source of great joy, and you may end up bonding as a result. 

6. You are sick to death of sparkling water

Although certain bars and brands are taking notice of increasing numbers of non-drinkers, the majority of venues do not offer enticing non-alcoholic options. This means you are faced with over-priced, syrup-laden mocktails, watery fruit juices from concentrate or water. Afraid that by constantly ordering tap water you will appear cheap, a killjoy or just distinctly unimaginative, you are forced to go for the sparkling option, as it appears slightly more grown up, whether or not you actually enjoy it. Sadly, until more bars cotton on to the fact that some of us would be interested in drinking a sophisticated tea or coffee after 7pm, you are forced to endure the abrasive, tasteless bubbles at all social events.   

7. You have extra cash

By choosing not to drink, you are inevitably saving yourself a decent sum of money. A meal out with friends does not automatically mean lining and clearing out the contents of your wallet: not only are you saving on  the hiked-up prices of alcohol in bars, but also the dodgy kebabs, taxi rides, dry-cleaning bills and inevitable Alkaseltzer the following day. As a result, you have extra money to spend on food, clothes and sober activities like going to the cinema or the gym. Crippling rent and bills aside, this makes it less likely that you’ll always be counting down the days til payday and forcing yourself to survive solely on pot noodles. 

8. You realise how grimy most bars are

Everyone knows that alcohol allows you to see the world through rosé-coloured glasses, meaning that those under the influence tend not to notice sticky floors or mouldy walls. A life of sobriety allows you to appreciate all the charming details of the world’s drinking establishments in glorious technicolour, and you quickly understand that many of them are pretty nasty places. From the questionable stains in the toilets to the scum on the drinking glasses, you are forced to notice every unpleasant detail, while your drinking peers gush about how much fun they’re having. 

9. You are an expert observer of the stages and types of drunkenness 

Being in a minority, the non-drinker in a group has both the advantage and disadvantage of watching everyone else descend into the various types of drunk: the crier, the giggler, the flirt, the overly-sincere etc. You watch with amusement and/or despair as all your friends transform from rational humans into wide-eyed huggers or laughing maniacs, and spend a lot of time listening to people explain with earnest that Michael Jackson really isn’t dead, and that people should be more considerate to the local dormouse population. Whether you choose to remind them of these conversations the next day remains at your discretion. 

10. You appreciate a good evening in 

It is still very possible to maintain a busy social life as a non-drinker, but it’s likely that you are more inclined than most to enjoy the comforts of an evening at home, rather than a crowded bar. You don’t have to spend outrageous money on soft drinks or “bar snacks”, nor do you have to put up with inappropriate fondling from soused acquaintances, force anyone into a taxi, or mop up vomit. You can spend an enjoyable evening catching up with friends (or blissfully alone) on the sofa, cooking up a storm, or gorging on your favourite box set. And you can go to bed when you want. Result. 

The only one I would disagree with is the dislike of sparkling water – which is still my go to drink almost 4 years in.  Any you disagree with?  Any you would add?

A Tunnel That Wakes You – Dear Sugar (Cheryl Strayed)

Dear Sugar

I think (know) I have a serious problem with alcohol.  It freaks me out; it even wakes me up in my sleep because I am terrified of this tunnel I keep going further into.  No one has ever said anything to me about it, because I’ve always been professional, calm, laid-back and in control.  I don’t think I have control anymore, and it seriously scares me.  I drink before work, when I wake up, drinking during lunch, and drink as soon as I get home to fall asleep, when no on can see me doing it.

But I also drink out socially, with my friends, and they are impossible NOT to drink around, and they actually prefer to see me “on”, which is the only state I seem to be comfortable with now.  I don’t think I can give up drinking out socially, because without my friends, I would probably just end up drinking more at home alone.

I know you are not a psychologist, but I would like to get some unbiased advice about this.  I have tried to approach some people about this before (including therapy), but it has proved fruitless, and also really embarrassing.  I guess I am hoping you have the magic, easy solution to this, and I am going to assume there probably isn’t one.

Thanks, Drinker

Dear Drinker,

My unbiased advice is that you know you’re addicted to alcohol and you need help.  You’re right that there is no “magic easy solution” to this, sweet pea, but there is a solution.  It’s that you stop using alcohol.  Privately.  Socially.  Morning.  Noon.  Night.  And probably forever.

You will need to do this when you’re ready to do this.  To be ready you need only the desire to change your life.  To succeed, most people need a community of support.  Alcoholics Anonymous is a good place to begin.  There, you will find those who struggle in the same ways you do; people who once told themselves the same lies about what was “impossible.”

Addiction is a tunnel that wakes you up in the middle of the night.  Everything else happens out here in the light.

Yours, Sugar

Taken from Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed.

20 things to replace 2!

So I’ve been having a massive clear out following stumbling across the blog of Be More With Less.  As part of that I was having a good old sort through of my office and came across this list that was clearly written back in the days of my drinking and smoking because of what I called it!  Its ‘replace’ sub-heading was healthy relaxation methods as I was desperately looking for ways to relax that didn’t include booze and fags.

The reason for writing this post is two fold.  Firstly to share the list so here it is:

  1. Aromatherapy
  2. Acupuncture
  3. Hot stone massage
  4. Reflexology
  5. Flotation tank
  6. Reiki
  7. Meditation
  8. Swedish massage
  9. Exercise = running
  10. Music
  11. Chocolate
  12. Mindfulness
  13. Diet + increased water intake/Less caffeine and sugar
  14. Bath
  15. Scented candles
  16. Cup of herbal tea
  17. Reading
  18. Sleeping
  19. Cinema
  20. Yoga

If you’re looking for even more inspiration how about this:

The Mayo Clinic say to get the most benefit, use relaxation techniques along with other positive coping methods, such as thinking positively, finding humor, problem-solving, managing time, exercising, getting enough sleep, and reaching out to supportive family and friends.  They go on to say that by practicing relaxation techniques we can reduce stress symptoms by:

  • Slowing your heart rate
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Slowing your breathing rate
  • Reducing activity of stress hormones
  • Increasing blood flow to major muscles
  • Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
  • Improving concentration and mood
  • Lowering fatigue
  • Reducing anger and frustration
  • Boosting confidence to handle problems

And secondly I am pleased to say that I have finally signed up for the one thing on my list I’ve avoided up until now – the body technique at no 20!  I’ve been resisting it because I have sensed it is going to engage me to work on some somatic elements of my recovery that I know is going to potentially be hard so I’ve been procrastinating.  I know how beneficial others have found it and that many in the recovery community are big advocates of it so I’m finally diving in and I’ll let you know how I get on.  If you want to share your experience of yoga in the comments along with any hints and tips please do 🙂

Guest Post: Recovering from Your Alcohol Addiction

More guest content this time courtesy of James and image courtesy of www.pixabay.com about recovering from alcohol addiction.

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word addiction? I mean, there are different types of addiction. There are people who are addicted to reading. Others are addicted to the internet or computer games. There are even people who are addicted to studying. Well, the thing is, they’re not all the same.

Different types of addiction have different degrees. Some people might even argue that other types of addiction can be a good thing. Let’s say, for example, is being addicted to studying. How can too much studying be a bad thing? But, reality strikes again.

There are bad sides to studying too much. One example would be not having a social life. When you’re too engrossed on academics, not having enough time for your friends, then you might find yourself at the mercy of a mental illness called depression anxiety.

So, what’s my point? What does it have anything to do alcohol addiction? Well, everything. I mean, when you’re addicted to studying, you don’t really see anything wrong with it. Good grades make you happy, but pretty soon you are going to have your sessions, and then suddenly being too engrossed in studying wasn’t such a good idea after all. Well, it’s pretty much the same with alcohol addiction. Drinking is a social activity. At first, you don’t see anything wrong with it. I mean, if drinking makes you happy, it can’t be that bad, right? But apparently, at some time of your life, the negative sides of being addicted to alcohol starts to show, and you’re going to wish you were never addicted to it in the first place.

But the thing is, just like any other addiction, getting through it is hard. It’s not an easy feat. It’s not something you can do overnight. It’s going to take time. You need to familiarize yourself with all the correct steps in order to overcome it, and in this article, you’re going to find out just how by answering the following questions:

What do you get out of it?

Try to list down all the benefits that you get out of drinking alcohol. It’s not just about getting to know the benefits. It’s also about trying to think up alternatives. I mean, if drinking makes you feel better about your problems, this could be a phase where you’ll be writing down possible alternatives. Get to know other hobbies that will give you the same benefits.

How much does it cost?

Now that you have a list of all the things that you get out of drinking alcohol, you can now begin to ask yourself, if it’s all worth the cost.

I mean, if you’re drinking to forget about your problems, perhaps, you’ve to find a different hobby that helps you do the same. Perhaps, reading on your spare time would also help you forget your problems.

You can now evaluate if you’d rather spend for alcohol or just read for free, in order to forget about your problems.

Set goals

Getting over your alcohol addiction doesn’t start when you say so. It starts when you decide. Action can only start when you have goals. So, starting today, you should list down some of your goals. These are the goals that you should list down:

  • The date when plan to launch your call to action
  • Whether you’re going to eradicate drinking completely or just regulate it

Remove temptations from your life

Abstain from everything that reminds of drinking.

All the planning would be of no use if one beer poster is just going to tempt you back to being a drunkard.

Tell your friends about your goal

No matter what you do there will always be temptations all around you. Self-control won’t always be enough. There will be times when you’ll fall into the pit.

So, what now? Do you just quit? Well, of course not. What you should do is to tell your friends, family, and everyone you know. That way, you’ll have all the support you can get. When you have the entire family or friendship circle rooting you to get better, it’s impossible for you to not abstain from alcohol.

Author Bio

James R. Robinson is an essayist for hqassignments.net. Needless to say, he has a passion for words. Most of his relatives are quite obsessed with science. His family is a streak line of businessmen, architects, doctors, and lawyers. He, on the other hand, chose art. He chose to write. Even so, he doesn’t think he’s that far off. Being a writer isn’t all art. It’s a part science and half art. So, he’s sort of in between them.

Thank you James!

Drinkers struggle to reduce intake due to their partners’ encouragement

So this was some research featured in The Independent back in January.  It was about how our partners’ can handicap our attempts to cut down or stop by encouraging us to drink.  This was something that MrHOF and I struggled with which is why as partners in crime we stopped together.

Over to the research:

Partners sabotage each other’s attempts to cut down on drinking, with men worse than women, new research suggests.

Drinkers struggle to reduce their alcohol intake due to their partner suggesting one more drink or encouraging them on nights out, a poll found.

Among 2,000 couples where at least one drinks more than the recommended 14 units a week, 26 per cent of women said they were concerned about the effects of alcohol on their partner’s health, while the figure was 21 per cent for men.

Women were more likely than men to say they would drink less if it was not for their partner loving booze (29 per cent compared with 16 per cent).

A third (33 per cent) of men also liked to suggest one more drink if their partner was thinking of stopping for the night, compared with 15 per cent of women.

Just 57 per cent of all people said they would drink less to help their partner if they were trying to cut down.

At present, around 40 per cent of men and a fifth of women drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week, according to industry-funded charity Drinkaware, which carried out the research.

A third of those surveyed (33 per cent) said alcohol being readily available in the home was an issue when it came to cutting down, while 40 per cent of those whose partner wanted to drink less thought the attempt would fail because stress would drive them to drink.

Reverand Kate Bottley, from the TV programme Gogglebox, is supporting a new Drinkaware campaign.

She said: “It’s quite sad to see that stress can really undo those good intentions, but we are a nation who bottle up our feelings, it would be far healthier to talk through your bad day rather than turn to a glass of wine or a beer.”

Drinkaware’s chief executive, Elaine Hindal, added: “We know that couples who are planning a health regime together fare better when they really support each other.

“It is sometimes difficult to stay on track with healthy plans but we have developed free tools such as the self-assessment and our Drinkaware app which can really help make a difference, especially if you’re trying to make up for the extra pounds gained over the festive period.”

How does your experience compare to this research?  Do you happily abstain while your partner drinks moderately or not so moderately?

Risky Drinking

So this premiered on HBO in the US in December 2016.  Luckily for us the documentary Risky Drinking has now appeared on Youtube so we can watch it too 🙂

Here’s a synopsis/review from Esquire:

To qualify as a risky drinker, a woman has to drink more than three drinks in one day, or more than seven drinks in a week. A man must have more than four drinks in one day, or more than 14 in a week. The risk itself from breaching these limits isn’t simply defined; it ranges from increased risk of violence, accidents, and self-injury to increased risk of sexual assault. It means an increased risk that something will happen that will irreversibly change someone’s life.

Or, as the new documentary Risky Drinking from HBO and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows, risky drinking could have already changed someone’s life. Now, the risk is that their life will spiral completely out of control.

The documentary follows four individuals, each on the spectrum for at-risk drinking, and each on the verge of toppling further into their dependencies. Kenzie is a young professional who parties on weekends; most binge drinkers are in her age group, 18 to 34. She downs shots and dissolves into tears each night out. “We haven’t gotten raped or murdered yet,” says her friend. Then there’s Mike, who is on the verge of domestic violence with his wife, and Noel, whose dependency affects her two daughters. The last is Neal, a grandfather so dependent on alcohol that he thinks he’s going to die (and who violently shakes when off the drink).

Risky Drinking doesn’t finish their stories. All we know is that each tries to get help, whether from medication, support groups, or moderation management, which is a treatment plan that doesn’t require total abstinence. Whether they are successful—whether they can get out of range of “alcohol use disorder,” which makes up one third of the drinking spectrum—is left unanswered. It’s a frustratingly open ending. But then, frustration is what you feel as you watch Kenzie, Mike, Noel, and Neal drink themselves stupid.

As the documentary points out, 70 percent of Americans drink alcohol. It’s worth knowing the risks, even if most Americans aren’t at the disorder stage—at least not yet. Risky Drinking assumes you already know this. It’s just showing you what risky drinking itself looks like for real people, if you care to watch.

Here’s the trailer:

And if you want to watch the full documentary film go here:

http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/risky-drinking

Or here: https://youtu.be/4hKmYthx718

Interestingly in looking for the new link for you to watch I came across this panel interview with the experts featured and this is what they had to say:

“Alcohol is a bigger cost on society than all the rest of the drugs combined.” – George Koob, Ph.D.

“It’s the worst drug of all and it’s hidden in plain sight. – Stephen Ross, M.D.

“People don’t drink because they’re crazy; they drink because it works in some way.” – Carrie Wilkens, Ph.D.

“We do have a large epidemiological study in the field now that is looking at rates of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and we’re hopeful, but the early evidence is concerning.” – Deidra Roach, M.D.

Here’s the panel discussion in full:

Six ways to crack wine o’clock and go semi-sober

sober-vs-intoxicated-brain-scansAlthough my way of being is sober I recognise that not everyone who arrives on this blog has stopped drinking and may be looking for help to go semi-sober – so to moderate or manage your drinking.  As February rolls round before those of you having done Dry January reward yourself with a drink maybe this article from The Telegraph, featured in October last year, will help you approach the rest of the year at an even more moderate pace 🙂

When I was growing up, there was no point at which my mum sighed “ah, wine o’ clock,” and uncorked a bottle. The idea of rewarding yourself after a day’s hard graft with a goldfish bowl of Pinot Grigio hadn’t yet occurred to women. 

It has now. Women are drinking more than ever before – and we’re not talking Hogarth-style Gin Lane reprobates, but middle-class mums, counting down the hours from the school run till six or exhausted office workers, marking the transition from work to play with what writer Kingsley Amis perfectly described as a “festive pop”. 

A study of four million adults, published yesterday, found that women are now drinking as much as, or even more than, men. 

I was an early adopter of wine o’ clock back in the 90s, when I had a demanding freelance career, and young children. At six-thirty, all I could think about was that first chilled glass of white. I say this with no shameful, misery-memoir ‘and that was how I became an alcoholic’ addendum, I was just immensely grateful that a substance existed which could wipe my brain of urgent work problems and allow me to burn 12 fish fingers without crying. 

I never felt I was a key player in a growing social problem – I just thought I was having a normal (slightly hectic) suburban life. And I’m pretty sure that 99 per cent of the other thirty and forty something women who stagger towards the bottle like the ancient mariner sighting land every night feel the same way. 

Sadly, though, daily drinking for decades means all the lovely Aldi £5.99 specials take a toll. Alcohol is a risk factor for various cancers, heart disease and high blood pressure; over 64 000 women attended hospital for drink-related issues in 2013/14.

We all know it’s doing us no good, and the popularity of ‘Dry January’ and this month’s ‘Go Sober For October’ suggests a growing desire to cut down on drinking – without going completely teetotal. 

Laura Willoughby is the founder of Club Soda, an online resource for people who want to cut down a little. 

“Most people are not dependent on alcohol but we do need skills to help us keep drinking under control,” she says, “from how to deal with mates in the pub to, knocking daily drinking at home on the head.”

She says a month booze-free can be a good way to change ingrained habits – but if you simply want to start drinking less so your head isn’t full of wasps in the morning, here’s six suggestions. If you’re anything like me, after trying them all, you’ll reward yourself with a really good bottle of something. Nobody’s perfect.

Reset Your Brain

Therapist Marisa Peer says the key to cutting down lies in breaking alcohol’s ‘pleasure’ association.  “Your brain is quite simple in that it believes what you tell it. That’s when a change in habit becomes painless and permanent. Tell it that you enjoy not drinking, and you love the feeling of being alert in the morning.” When you have an alcohol free day, plan an activity you know you’ll enjoy for that day or the morning after, so your brain starts to associate not drinking with pleasure instead. 

Buy smaller glasses

Almost every stylish bar now serves wine in glasses the size of astronauts’ helmets. The trend has also crept into homeware – red wine glasses now come as a standard 250 ml, twice the recommended 1.5 unit size 125 ml – but simply buying smaller glasses can help you drink less. In a 2013 US study, when researchers asked people to pour out the same amount of wine but gave them different sized glasses, those using wider glasses poured out 11 per cent more. 

Try the HALT test 

“Alcohol can creep into your daily routine, much like ‘a coffee in the morning’ has become routine for many people,” says London based GP Dr Tatiana Lapa. She advises that women have at least three alcohol-free days in the week to avoid drinking becoming a routine. “And before you open a bottle, borrow a trick from AA and ask yourself, am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? Once you’ve identified the trouble, you can address it directly, rather than attempting a general cure-all with wine. “Light a candle, watch a film or TV show, listen to music, or have a relaxing bath,” says Marisa Peer. “Stop telling yourself you need alcohol to relax or socialise – you don’t see children having a glass of wine before they play!”

Never have two bottles in the fridge

My worst hangovers have been entirely down to someone saying “shall we open another?” Making a conscious effort to buy only one bottle at a time – or none – can make you ration the wine. “Take it in turns with your partner to bring home a treat instead – some nice chocolate, or ingredients for a special dinner,” says a spokesperson for the charity Drinkaware. “It’s about breaking the routine.”

Have decent alternatives

Tap water won’t float anyone’s enjoyment boat,  so invest in some decent non-alcoholic alternatives, which have improved substantially in recent years, from alcohol free wines such as Eisberg – which has seen sales grow by 40 per cent this year – to Seedlip, billed as the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit, made with botanicals such as lemon peel and cardamom, and tasty with tonic or as part of a mocktail. Switching to a 5.5 per cent wine, instead of the usual 12-14 per cent, can more than halve the number of units you drink in an evening. 

Start Later

Try not opening a bottle till you start cooking, or until the kids are in bed. Or you could agree to only drink with food, like our sensible continental friends. Drinking with food slows down the rate that alcohol is absorbs into the bloodstream, meaning you’ll end up drinking more slowly and so end up consuming less, advises Drinkaware.

Having detoxed after the Christmas excesses during January, go easy on the retox!

 

Back to life, back to reality … Women closing the drinking gap on men

women-closing-the-drinking-gap-on-menIt’s the end of the Christmas and New Year break and most of us head back to work or school, hence the Soul II Soul lyrics in the blog post title.  And part of that reality is that women are closing the drinking gap on men as reported by the Institute of Alcohol Studies in October 2016.  Over to their analysis:

Trend most evident among young adults, international analysis shows (25 October)

Women are catching up with men in terms of their alcohol consumption and its impact on their health, finds an analysis of the available international evidence, spanning over a century and published in the online journal BMJ Open.

This trend is most evident among young adults, the findings show. Historically, men have been far more likely than women to drink alcohol and to drink it in quantities that damage their health, with some figures suggesting up to a 12-fold difference between the sexes. But now evidence is beginning to emerge that suggests this gap is narrowing.

In a bid to quantify this trend over time, a research team pooled the data from 68 relevant international studies published between 1980 and 2014. The studies calculated male-to-female ratios for 3 broad categories of alcohol use and harms (any alcohol use, problematic alcohol use and alcohol-related harms) stratified by 5-year birth cohorts ranging from 1891 to 2001, generating 1,568 sex ratios (see above data table).

Sixteen of the studies spanned 20 or more years; five spanned 30 or more. All the studies included explicit regional or national comparisons of men’s and women’s drinking patterns across at least two time periods.

Results:

The pooled data showed that the gap between the sexes consistently narrowed across all three categories of any use, problematic use, and associated harms over time.

Men born between 1891 and 1910 were twice (2.2) as likely as their female peers to drink alcohol; but this had almost reached parity among those born between 1991 and 2000 (1.1, illustrated). The same patterns were evident for problematic use, where the gender gap fell from 3 to 1.2, and for associated harms, where the gender gap fell from 3.6 to 1.3.

After taking account of potential mathematical bias in the calculations, the gender gap fell by 3.2% with each successive five-year period of births, but was steepest among those born from 1966 onwards.

Associated health harms fall disproportionately on female drinkers

The calculation used was not designed to address whether alcohol use is falling among men or rising among women, the researchers caution.

But among the 42 studies that reported some evidence for a convergence of drinking levels between the sexes, most (n = 31) indicated that this was driven by greater use of alcohol among women, and 5% of the sex ratios were under 1, suggesting that women born after 1981 may actually be drinking more than their male peers, the researchers claimed.

Conclusions

The researchers wrote: “Findings confirm the closing male–female gap in indicators of alcohol use and related harms. The closing male–female gap is most evident among young adults, highlighting the importance of prospectively tracking young male and female cohorts as they age into their 30s, 40s and beyond.”

While they did not set out to explain the reasons behind their observed findings, they emphasised that their results “have implications for the framing and targeting of alcohol use prevention and intervention programmes.”

They concluded: “Alcohol use and alcohol use disorders have historically been viewed as a male phenomenon. The present study calls this assumption into question and suggests that young women in particular should be the target of concerted efforts to reduce the impact of substance use and related harms.

“These findings (also) highlight the importance of further tracking young male and female cohorts as they age into their 30s, 40s and beyond”, they added.

Institute of Alcohol Studies director Katherine Brown said: “The findings from this study illustrate a trend that has been in the making for decades. Women are increasingly subjected to heavily targeted marketing practices by alcohol companies enticing them to drink more. This is a global phenomenon, with drinks manufacturers producing sweet, often pink, fizzy alcoholic beverages that appeal to young women, with glamorous advertising campaigns.

“Another major driver of alcohol consumption is price, with very cheap products commonly on sale for as little as 16 pence per unit in shops and supermarkets. We are no longer a nation of pub goers, with two-thirds of all UK alcohol drunk at home. Pre-loading on cheap shop bought alcohol before a night out is common practice and police have reported strong links to crime, disorder and vulnerable behaviour in towns and city centres.

“Alcohol places a huge strain on our NHS and emergency services, with the total costs to society at £21 billion each year. We need to take this issue seriously and introduce evidence-based measures such as minimum unit pricing and marketing restrictions in order to protect out future generations and improve the health and wellbeing of our most vulnerable communities.”

Coverage from Alcohol Policy UK:

‘Women have caught up with men’ in alcohol consumption levels, headlines reported across the media. According to international research the gap between men and women is closing rapidly when it comes to use and alcohol-related harms, though in the UK men still drink more. See NHS behind the headlines analysis or BBC, The Sun and Guardian reports.

To act as a counter-balance to this view here is a recent article from the Guardian citing another BMJ study:

Female binge drinkers unfairly stigmatised by media, says study

It’s worth a read and has an interesting conclusion that begs the question: who is funding this research?

Further evidential data:

(taken from HSE 2015)

Health Survey for England 2015: latest consumption figures

Eight in 10 middle-aged Britons ‘are overweight or exercise too little’ (oh and drink too much!)

Ladies it’s the beginning of January and it’s not too late to join us for Dry January.  You can start the clock today and not become part of these statistics of the future.