Tag Archives: Binge drinking

Guest Post: Addiction and Employment

Today’s post comes courtesy of James White.  He is a content creator for 12 Keys Recovery in the US and enjoys helping people find freedom from their addictions.

Comparing Drug Addiction and Unemployment in the UK and US

Both the United States and United Kingdom have experienced a correlation between unemployment and drug addiction. Studies have found that unemployment increases the likelihood of one bingeing on drugs. Similarly, those who are currently employed are likelier to become unemployed if they are suffering from substance abuse.

When further investigating the link between unemployment and drug addiction, it’s worth considering several aspects of drug addiction and unemployment in the UK that are both similar and different to their US counterparts:

Late 20s and Early 30s Are At the Most Risk

Studies show that, in the UK, the mean age of those unemployed and suffering from drug addiction is 28 to 31. This makes sense because, by that age, one can attain long-term employment while living independently. That factor, combined with potential extra income at that age, make that age group particularly prone to correlated drug addiction and unemployment.

The Harder the Drug, the More Severe the Impact

UK studies have shown that the link between unemployment and “soft drugs” — such as cannabis and amphetamines — is not as substantial as the relationship between unemployment and “hard drugs” — like cocaine and opiates. Although hard drugs pose more of a risk for both self-harm and potential unemployment, it is apparent that all types of drugs can impact one’s employment negatively.

Addicts in the US and UK Share Several Tendencies

Both in the US and UK, unemployment increases a person’s likelihood to binge drink or have a tobacco/drug addiction. There is little difference between the drugs of choice in both countries; the differences primarily involve alcohol, as 18 is the legal drinking age in the UK, while 21 is the legal drinking age in the US. This has little bearing on unemployment-drug correlation statistics though, since employment at these ages is not significant regardless.

Also, in both the US and UK, cannabis is the most popular drug, with millions using it per year. Still, recent studies have suggested that cannabis use is declining in England and Wales. On the contrary, cannabis use appears to be increasing in the United States.

Drug Addiction Is a Barrier to Employment

Even after a drug addict recovers, they will likely find it difficult to find employment due to a criminal record or diminished physical/mental health. Since many drug addicts deplete their funds to support their habit, it will also be difficult to afford aspects like transportation or housing that can aid in a job search.

These difficulties exist in both the US and UK. When one starts to become addicted to drugs, it’s highly recommended to seek treatment immediately. Long-term drug use can result in diminished health and/or criminal charges that can make it extremely difficult to find substantial employment.

Breaking the Cycle Is Universal

Although the US and UK differ in some drug tendencies, laws and treatment, the strategies for breaking the cycle of drug addiction remain the same. By educating people on the dangers of drugs and offering effective, accessible drug treatment programs, both the US and UK can decrease the amount of drug addicts, whose addiction can cost them employment, income and health.

Thanks James! 🙂  Plus when he first contacted me he shared this video too so I’m posting it up for you to enjoy also.


Any thoughts?

PS I am aware that today was the day that Veronica Valli and I were due to share our first Skype conversation with you.  We recorded it and although the video quality was great, the audio was not and we aren’t happy publishing it until it’s right so we are tweaking the technology and will re-record again soon.  I guess that’s what happens sometimes when you are having a conversation and are 6000 miles apart!

Britain’s Binge Drinkers

This programme was aired on ITV on Thursday 17th April at 19.30 as the Easter Bank Holiday kicked off here in the UK.  This used to be a drinking fest for me as you could drink from the eve of Good Friday all the way to the end of Easter Monday if you wanted to.  One of our locals holds an Easter Beer Festival Week-end with bands and guest beers running and I’m sure they are not the only one.

Jonathan Maitland takes a look at Britain’s binge drinking culture and the impact it is having on the health of young people including premature liver disease.  If you would like to watch it you can find it here:


It makes grim viewing particularly the group of 4 students who are followed before and after a regular night where they are seen pre-loading (or prinking as my neice informed me) and then out on the town consuming anywhere between 26 and 48 units in one night!  It also covers the stories of one teenagers death from alcohol poisoning in one night, a teenager who is now a recovering alcoholic and a man in his early twenties who died of liver failure caused by drinking.  Plus plenty of experts sharing their opinions and views.

Calories on wine bottles

The Telegraph has published an article recently about the move by Sainsbury’s, one of the UK’s leading supermarkets, to label 20 of its own brand wines with the calorie content of a 125ml glass.

This has led to for and against articles:

On the for side we have will it cure women’s binge drinking which you can read here saying:

“No matter how many times government officials, TV ads and magazine horror stories urge women not to drink too much, for fear of getting seriously ill, it doesn’t seem to make much difference. Pointing out to them that drinking too much will make them fatter, will.

That’s why calories should be put on all wine bottles, spirits and beer bottles (some brands already advertise ‘diet’ beers – e.g. Coors Light – and many modern men, let alone women, gladly choose to drink it over fattier beer).

So Sainsbury’s is onto something here. Putting calories on wine bottles – appealing to vanity over health – could just prompt a step change in women’s attitude to heavy drinking in Britain.”

On the against side we have the fact that this will ‘spoil’ the pleasure of drinking wine, which you can read here and says:

“Our national conspiracy of silence is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact it’s a positively Darwinian response to threats to peace and happiness. A little self-deception goes a long way towards a good night’s sleep.

Do we acknowledge that fact out loud? Umm, duh. Silence, in this case, is as golden as a Chablis Premier Cru.

And so it is with wine and calories. Do we know that white wine contains sugar? Of course we do – that’s one of the many reasons we drink it. It gives you that great lift of energy at wine o’clock – especially when accompanied by a handful of giant cashews.

Yet here comes the Truth Police – aka the head office of supermarket giant Sainsbury’s – which has decided that sticking our middle-class heads in the sand about how many calories there are in our medicinal glass of early evening sauvignon blanc is no longer OK.

These Dementors – sucking the joy out of high street shoppers as their namesakes did to the prisoners of Azkaban in the Harry Potter novel – have decided For Our Own Good to publish calorie counts on the front of its wine bottles.”

The latter article is fine except when the conspiracy of silence leads to a serious addiction to the substance concerned.  If getting people to think about wine in calorific terms helps them to make an informed decision then all well and good.  I welcome the debate and I am really pleased that Sainsbury’s are leading the way in responsible marketing of their products.  Now if the label were to say the number of units per 125 ml glass for it’s ABV and the calorific value then we would really be on to something 🙂

What made it important for me?

Everyone’s reason for stopping is probably different and personal to them.  But for me the pro’s of stopping included (in order of importance):

My children.  I had grown up in a household where daily drinking was normal and I did not want to role-model that to my children.  I didn’t want them to believe that daily drinking was normal or that binge-drinking at the week-end was normal either.  I wanted them to have a more balanced and realistic understanding of alcohol than I did.

My children again.  I did not want to be a grumpy hungover parent.  I did not want them to experience inconsistent parenting that was determined by whether I had had a drink or was recovering from having a drink.

Cost.  We were spending on average £400 a month on booze.  This was not something that we could continue to afford or how we wanted to spend our money.

Health.  My liver function test is currently healthy but how much longer would it continue to be so if I continued to drink?  I felt rough much of the time because of being hungover.

Weight.  My weight was difficult to manage because of the all the ’empty’ calories I was consuming in alcohol.  I would rather eat something nice for those extra 500 calories than drink it!

Sleep.  I love my sleep and it was awful while I drank.  I craved a good nights sleep more than I craved a drink!

Exercise.  I ran a couple of times a week and this was painful if I was hungover.  I wanted to enjoy my runs not just for the health related benefits but for the experience itself.

This list is not exhaustive and I’m sure given more time I would think of a load more reasons not to drink.  What would be on your list if you wrote one?

Growing pains

I’ve been wondering about Christmas Eve and why it was difficult for me.  But actually after only a little thought it became clear that this first one was going to be hard.  Why?  Because for the last 26 Christmas’ I have always had a drink.  Even when I was pregnant, because current UK guidelines permit a unit per week, I would have had a glass.  That’s a lot of years to establish a very ingrained habit and so my first year was going to bring growing pains.

Not only that but I started drinking when I was a teenager and research shows that typically from the age of 11 or 12 to approximately 24 years old our neural development is marked by a second overproduction of neurons, dendrites, and synapses within our brain.   As the neuronal pathways proliferate, the brain selectively strengthens some neuronal pathways, while the others that are unused are eliminated. This is partly where the expression ‘use it or lose it’ comes from and this pruning process is based on activity and stimulation.

So if you began drinking during those years and became a habitual drinker, either through daily or binge-drinking, then your drinking pathways were set and other synaptic pathways were pruned away leaving you with a brain architecture that was literally ‘hard wired’ to drink.  This is not irreversible but coupled with then another 20 years of habitual drinking takes much more effort to change and hence why I’m experiencing the discomfort.  A little pain for immeasurable brain gain 🙂

6 weeks ago today

I had my last hangover.  It was a monster as I was determined to make sure it was etched on my memory.

I read the Allen Carr book ‘Easy Way to Control Alcohol’ and he suggests you have your last drink at the end of it.  There was no way it was ever going to be one drink so I made it my last week-end of drinking.  I planned to make sure I had all my favourite alcoholic beverages.  On both the Friday and Saturday night I had a g&t to start, 1/2 a bottle of red and then a peach schnapps to finish.  My body was so used to alcohol that my tolerance was pretty high and that amount didn’t make me feel drunk.  It felt like I was just hitting my stride but I knew that it was more than enough to be classified as a binge and to give me a bad head.

As it was my last w/end of drinking and excess I also chuffed my way through 10 fags even though I gave up a year ago.  So I sat in my garden, on my own, and drank and smoked till it was all gone.  I didn’t feel p*ssed that night but felt rotten the next morning and that was how my life with alcohol had become.  That was why it was time to stop.

Fast forward to this morning.  Awoke early thinking about writing about alcohol not regretting what I had done under its influence the night before.  Sleep is so much better and for a girl who loves her sleep I can’t believe that I let alcohol spoil that favourite pastime.  I went for a 5k run and my time was a personal best as I am becoming fitter.  Despite replacing alcohol with chocolate in the first 4-6 weeks I’m losing weight with no effort on my part.  My eyes are clear, my thinking is sharp and I feel so much better.  We think alcohol adds to our life but actually it just robs us and I feel pretty stupid that it has taken me this long to figure it out.  25 years of kissing alcohol frogs when my prince was a herbal tea 🙂