Category Archives: Moderating

Moderate drinking: risk Vs reward?

A brilliant post by my friend Libby Ranzetta for Alcohol Policy UK written back in June about moderate drinking: risk vs reward.

Over to Lib:

A study recently published in the BMJ found that alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels, is associated with adverse brain outcomes. The research also found no support for a protective effect of light consumption on brain structure. The authors, from Oxford University and University College London, concluded:

These results support the recent reduction in alcohol guidance in the UK and question the current limits recommended in the US.

The research may be seen in the context of the much debated J-shaped curve suggesting potential health benefits of alcohol consumption at lower risk levels. Indeed another recent BMJ study found evidence to support the potential protective effects of moderate consumption on cardiovascular disease (CVD), addressing some of the previous question marks over the CVD protective effects research. However expert reactions highlighted several reasons why drinking should not be taken up by abstainers for any potential CVD benefits.

In producing the new UK ‘Low risk drinking guidelines‘ last year, the Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO) group considered the evidence that moderate drinking may reduce risks of death alongside ‘a large body of evidence’ demonstrating that these potential benefits are likely to be overestimated due to the limitations found in most studies of the long-term health consequences of alcohol consumption.

The group also factored in modelling by the University of Sheffield which included protective effects for some health conditions weighed against the alcohol-related risks of mortality from others. The conclusions were:

  1. Any benefit to cardiovascular health for moderate drinkers in the UK is largely cancelled out by their increased risk to health from other diseases, and
  2. Any remaining benefits to health from moderate drinking are small and uncertain. (See here for more details)

The Oxford/UCL study, which scanned for structural brain changes such as hippocampal atrophy, grey matter density, and white matter microstructure in the Whitehall II study cohort, has its limitations too of course, summarised in an NHS Choices explainer as:

  • The participants are all people who were civil servants in the 1980s and were mostly male and more middle class and higher IQ than the general population, meaning results might not be applicable to the UK as a whole.
  • The effect of hippocampal atrophy was found in men and not women which may be down to the lower sample size of women and that few of them drank heavily.
  • The information on alcohol intake was self-reported and therefore might be inaccurately reported by participants.
  • It is difficult to link brain structure with alcohol intake when it might have been down to other confounding factors such as intelligence, cognitive stimulation and other lifestyle factors.
  • The MRI scan only took place once, at the end of the study, so it is difficult to tell if and when any changes in brain structure took place and rule out other influencing factors.

No safe level?

Of course such studies do not intend to suggest that alcohol does not have potential social benefits, rather than the seek to answer the question of the possible health implications of moderate consumption – an issue that seems to generate substantial public and media interest. Back in January 2016 when the revised guidelines were announced, an article in the Telegraph covered a range of responses to the ‘Low risk drinking guidelines’, from health professionals discussing risks to critics of the guidelines calling nanny statism. We also published our own expert reactions on the revised guidelines and media reaction, also followed by an analysis of Twitter reactions.

This latest studies nudge the argument further along the current direction of travel regarding potential health risks and benefits: light drinking probably won’t make you healthier; potential CVD benefits need to be considered against other risks. A somewhat tricky message, but as Matt Field, Professor of Addiction at the University of Liverpool, put it in the Telegraph: 

Any amount of alcohol consumption carries some risk. However, it is important to bear in mind that most activities that people undertake on a daily basis – e.g. driving to work – carry some risk, and people need to make informed choices about the level of risk that they are prepared to accept.

In his APE: Alcohol and Epidemiology blog, John Holmes discusses the difficulties of turning research findings – which posit different levels of risk for different diseases – into simple health promotion messages that are ‘scientifically robust, sufficiently compelling and easily understood’.

He highlights a recent meta-analysis of cancer and alcohol research supports the judgement that ‘alcohol causes cancer of the oropharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast’, although the risks are pretty small at low levels of drinking. However, as mentioned above, the CMO’s evidence review considers many other conditions, including ischaemic stroke, ischaemic heart disease and type II diabetes, which show U- and J-shaped relationships, indicating a beneficial effect of alcohol at some levels of consumption and a detrimental effect at others.

While addiction professors and epidemiologists may feel confident in making informed choices from the complex information available, the degree to which the wider public choose whether or not to take notice of the CMO’s headline messages on lower risk drinking will remain a hot topic.

Completely agree Lib!

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:

Or here:

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!


Revisiting my moderation warzone

So Prim & were discussing my recent interview on The Bubble Hour and how she had learned new things about me.  These were primarily to do with my time before I started blogging so that murky past that was my repeatedly attempted and spectacularly failed attempts at moderation.  I think you have a flavour of them from my shared last drunks and final drinking horror but not an appreciation of the total warzone that it was.  I was battling myself and my desire to drink on a daily basis and those internal emotional battles spilled over into external marital discord and parental shame.

We wondered maybe if there existed this perhaps self-limiting belief that those of us who blog out here just decided one day to stop and that was it – bingo, job done – which fails to recognise that there were many quit attempts that preceded that final desperation driven decision and the need to ‘up the ante’ by adding visible social accountability to the mix.  So in an attempt to debunk that potential myth about myself I’m going to provide a brief history of those years of moderation between the end of 2008 and my quit day in September 2013.

To set the scene before we moved to France in early 2008 and up until that point my drinking was problematic but still manageable.  That’s not to say I didn’t do incredibly stupid things when drunk and have many shameful memories of drink-driven drama and mis-behaving.  France changed that and we spent all our time after France trying to regain control and never succeeded.

Because it’s almost 10 years ago and I can’t recall all the details – hangover securely in place – I’m going to do a timeline to paint a broad brush outline:

  • End 2008 returned from France to home county in UK with baby and small toddler in tow.
  • Early 2009 returned to work nursing full-time, MrHOF stayed at home and cared for children.  This was a difficult time for all of us, readjusting to returning to where we grew up, me working, he house-husbanding and not working and two small people in our charge.  Our daily drinking continued unabated and our marriage was showing the strain.  Days of not drinking would follow particularly shaming altercations by way of reparation.
  • 2010 decided to enter London Marathon ballot – started running.  Tried to decrease drinking and smoking as I tried to get ‘healthy’.  End 2010 – lost my maternal grandmother and my step-father became ill.  Was struggling psychologically so started anti-depressants and returned to therapy.
  • 2011 Marathon training in earnest so this is when the stopping and starting drinking started proper.  Gave up for New Years resolution to aid training.  Remember attending 40th b-day party in Feb and had managed 6 weeks.  Mid 2011 – lost my step-father, who was my father from birth in all but genetics.  Two close family deaths meant my drinking spiralled once more (which is the reason for the image at the top of the post, because these types of huge family loss events can be deeply traumatising and can tip us over from coping to not coping).  Remember noticing first Dry January posters for 2012.
  • 2012 did Dry January and carried on to do six weeks – partly I think to prove to myself that I didn’t have a problem!  Drinking less regularly & frequently but when I did they were spectacular binges.  Trying not to drink in the week so the week-ends were horrendous.  Started my Health Visitor training and gave up smoking for good.  During training was working professionally with families where drink was a problem and the cognitive dissonance created began to become unbearable.  I knew that if I didn’t get this under control I was in danger of visiting my own childhood on my children.

“The best predictor of a child’s security of attachment is not what happened to his parents as children, but rather how his parents made sense of those childhood experiences” Dr Dan Siegel

  • 2013 did Dry January again and carried on to do three months so more stints of not drinking interspersed with spectacular blow outs.  Early physical signs of damage from alcohol abuse and ongoing symptoms noted with alarm.  Becoming weary of the whole process and drinking was no longer fun in any way, shape or form.  Still in therapy on and off although had never discussed my drinking!  London Marathon running buddy came to stay for week-end and had just mentioned my drinking to my therapist as a ‘door handle moment’ in my final therapy session with her.  Decided to stop for good.  Had night of heavy drinking with her, bought Allan Carr’s book on Kindle, read it all week, final drinking week-end.

So as you can see there was a huge amount of back-story to my stopping which I haven’t fully disclosed here before.  I’m not sure why.  There is a sense that in talking about it I am somehow condoning moderating – which I’m not.  Equally I think we have to acknowledge that this period of one step forward two steps back is part of my story and part of many people’s journey.  So if you’ve read my blog before and thought ‘well she’s different from me because she just stopped’.  I’m not and I didn’t.

As we head into the end of January and you may be considering going back to drinking because you’ve done a month to prove you don’t have a problem I just ask you to pause and think again.  The reason I did all those stop and start attempts is because I started to see the benefits and knew that there was potentially something better on the other side of the difficult first few months if I just stuck with it.  I urge you to consider doing the same because you can always go back to drinking later can’t you?   What have you got to lose? 🙂

PHE One You

PHE One YouIn March Public Health England (PHE) launched their brand new health campaign One You. They reported that the response so far was fantastic and they were delighted to see such a positive reaction in the media, from our partners and from the public online.

The image is a screen grab of what it looks like and here are some of the categories and areas for information around drinking.

Drink and you

It may seem like you don’t drink much, but a drink or two most evenings can do harm to your body. From making you gain weight to increasing your risk of cancer, alcohol can have serious effects on your body.

The more you drink, and the more often, the greater the risk to your health.

It has further information headings covering being drunk, booze and your body and other health worries.

Why cut down?

If you regularly drink above the lower risk guidelines, cutting back on alcohol can help your general wellbeing. Once you start cutting back, you’ll probably notice the benefits. The biggest benefit is the reduced risk to your health, but there are lots of others, too.

Medical warning: If you have physical withdrawal symptoms (shaking, sweating or feelings of anxiety until you have your first drink of the day) you should take medical advice before stopping completely – it can be dangerous to do this too quickly and without proper advice and support. Call Drinkline free on 0300 123 1110 for more advice.

Further subheadings look at: Be healthier, save some cash and feel full of beans.

Drink less

It’s important to know how much you are drinking and that there are easy ways you can cut back, without cutting alcohol out completely.

You could try making some simple swaps when you’re out, or, if you drink every day, having at least a couple of booze-free nights each week.

And further advice entitled: Tools to cut down, top tips to drink less and need more support.


It looks really good and is an improvement on the Change for Life campaign in my opinion.  Thanks Public Health England! 🙂

PS New header image time – the Great Barrier Reef in preparation for our summer 1000 day reward 😉

The Drink Less Alcohol research app

UCL drink less appA new app with added research benefits!!  This app shows how your drinking is changing, how close you are to achieving your goals and some simple things you can do today to drink less.  It’s been developed by the UCL Centre for Behaviour Change, London

Drink less alcohol app


So what’s this experiment you’re running?

We’re testing which app components are most effective at helping people reduce their drinking. We know that certain techniques work when delivered face-to-face but we don’t know how well they work when delivered by an app. The findings will form the core part of the PhDs that David Crane and Claire Garnett are completing at UCL and will hopefully help other researchers understand more about this important area.

Do I have to take part in the experiment to use the app?

No, all the app’s features will work regardless whether you participate in the experiment or not and you can opt-out of it at any time. However, we’d greatly appreciate it if you took part fully, as the information you give us will help us understand which techniques are most efective at helping people drink less.

Do I have to give you my email address?

No, and you can use the app fully either way. If you give us your address all we’ll do is email you with a brief questionnaire, the answers to which will help us learn which techniques have and haven’t worked. Plus, you’ll be entered into a draw to win a £100 voucher.

Is my information safe and am I anonymous?

Yes and yes. We treat your data with the greatest respect and make sure it’s both anonymised and stored securely.

What else can I do?

There’s a good few options in the app itself. Have a play around, you probably won’t break anything.

Any other questions? Please get in touch.

Edited to add: back from the seaside and these news stories appeared relating to this app last week!

New brain-training tool to help people cut drinking

An internationally-renowned LSE expert on happiness and behaviour has launched a free online tool to help people who want to cut down on alcohol | LSE, UK

Drink Less: Get help reducing the amount of alcohol you consume – free app

Are you looking to cut down how much you drink? If so, we can help. Drink Less is a super-easy to use app that allows you to keep track of how much you drink, set goals to drink less, get feedback on whether what you’re doing is working and access some unique and fun ways of changing your attitude towards alcohol |  Susan Michie, UK

Putting lipstick on a pig

VinturiSo in the run up to Christmas last year I was reflecting on previous years when I’d been drinking and clues that things were not as they should be.  And then I remembered this: the vinturi.  Our attempt to put lipstick on a pig!

We had discovered this device courtesy of my parents who had retired to France and they thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.

Here’s the manufacturing blurb about the product which is a wine & spirit aerator : Simply hold Vinturi over a glass and pour wine through. Vinturi draws in and mixes the proper amount of air for the right amount of time, allowing your wine to breathe instantly. You’ll notice a better bouquet, enhanced flavors and smoother finish.

The joy about this device at the time was that it turned water into wine.  OK well not quite but it boosted cheap ropey French wine into something resembling not bad quality.  For those of us who were drinking a high monetary value’s worth regularly and were looking for ways to save money this was manor from heaven! (and we were drinking the equivalent of about £250-£300 a month).  Plus I figured if I thought I was drinking better quality wine I would drink less of it <yes I know!>.

So the connection to what turned out to be one of our last drinking Christmas’s?  We bought one of these for every family member & close friend thinking we’d struck wine gold!!  I think we got a bulk discount we bought so many.  How I shake my head now at my own level of denial ……

When we moved over the summer we gifted our vinturi away with the last of the bottles of wine we had.  If we wanted to save money, rather than drink cheaper poorer quality wine, all we had to do was stop completely!


Hangover Cures & Lost Hours

This research was picked up and covered by The Independent over the August Bank Holiday week-end!


Hangover cures: The only way to avoid suffering the morning after is ‘to drink less alcohol’, say scientists

Hangover cures, whether it be drinking coffee, downing a fizzy drink, tucking into a fry-up or even the ‘hair of the dog that bit you’ are pretty much a waste of time and effort, scientists have concluded.

Even drinking water, they say, will fail to prevent anyone incautious enough to overdo the alcohol from suffering a hangover the morning after.

There is, they say, no escape. Everyone pays the price for boozing, according to tests carried out with 826 Dutch students who answered questions – once the worst effects had worn off – about their most recent heavy drinking session.

Just over half said they had eaten after drinking but this appeared to have little effect on the severity of their hangovers.

Lead scientist Dr Joris Verster, from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, said: “From what we know from the surveys so far, the only practical way to avoid a hangover is to drink less alcohol.

“Those who took food or water showed a slight statistical improvement in how they felt over those who didn’t, but this didn’t really translate into a meaningful difference.”

Researchers concluded that even seasoned drinkers who consider themselves immune to hangovers are simply deluding themselves.

An estimated 25 to 30 per cent of drinkers maintain they can down unlimited amounts of beer or wine safe in the knowledge that they will wake up refreshed and clear-headed the next day.

The scientists calculated the blood alcohol levels of a group of 789 Canadian students who were questioned about their drinking in the previous month and found that four fifths (79 per cent) of those who claimed not to experience hangovers had actually drunk less than they thought.

Their average post-drinking blood alcohol level was less than 10 per cent. While still around twice the safe driving limits of many European countries, it was not enough to lay them low the next day.

“In general, we found a pretty straight relationship; the more you drink, the more likely you are to get a hangover,” said Dr Verster. “The majority of those who in fact reported never having a hangover tended to drink less – perhaps less than they themselves thought would lead to a hangover.”

The results of the study were presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology’s annual meeting in Amsterdam.

Commenting on the research, psychologist Dr Michael Bloomfield, from University College London, said: “Throughout the world the economic and social costs of alcohol abuse run into hundreds of billions of euros per year. It’s therefore very important to answer simple questions like ‘how do you avoid a hangover?’

“Whilst further research is needed, this new research tells us that the answer is simple – ‘drink less’.”

States it pretty simply doesn’t it?  And The Indy followed it up the next day with this research from Cancer Research:

Hungover Britons lost 22 hours of their summer this year recovering from nights of heavy drinking, research has found.

While much of July and August has been a washout, the study found that boozing cost drinkers almost an entire day in the sun (or rain) over the past three months.

New figures released today by Cancer Research UK show that an average hangover lasted six and a half hours, while one in eight sufferers admitted their most recent one dragged on for more than 12 hours.

The survey of 2,000 drinkers also found that 24 per cent admitted the after-effects of their boozing stopped them going outside to enjoy good weather, rising to 40 per cent for 18- to 34-year-olds.

Close to 280,000 Britons have missed a flight due to a hangover, according to Office for National Statistics figures, and 23 per cent of young Britons admit they have missed a day out after a binge.

Edited to add: 23/10/2015

Hangover cures: Drinking water will do nothing to cure a headache, say experts

Alcohol Demotivator

I really like this!  It comes from Abbeycare, an addictions and treatment centre near me in Newmarket.

It’s called their alcohol demotivator and this is a screen grab of my results:

alcohol demotivator 1




alcohol motivator 2




So when you go to the page here it asks you:

Get Demotivated… What Will Your Next Drink Really Cost?

There is a sentence underneath that says: I drink around [drop down boxes] wine; beer/cider; spirits per day which you fill in

For the above results I put 6 glasses of wine (which is about a bottle depending on your pour and size of glass!) but you can specify number of bottles instead

Then it asks you to specify your gender

And then a button appears saying ‘Demotivate Me!’ which when you press gives you the above screen shot calculation so:

  • Your intake
  • Your risk level
  • Your spend both in a month and annually
  • Then the health impact so firstly stroke risk rate
  • Then liver cirrhosis risk rate
  • Then car accident risk rate
  • And finally upper gastro-intestinal cancer risk rate

You can then print it off and put it somewhere prominent to deter you from pouring your next glass and there is a quick referral email option so you can start talking to a counsellor immediately if you’d like 🙂

Fantastic stuff and would have scared me witless if I’d found it and been honest in my answering the questions.  Maybe it’ll help you with a reality check if you find this and are still drinking?

If you’d like more information here is their brochure too:

PS This is not the local drug and alcohol treatment centre for which I volunteer.  I volunteer at a splendid organisation called Focus12 in Bury St Edmunds and if you would like to make inquiries to them you can do so at  I am not paid to promote either organisation!

How to drink mindfully

Following on from the past two days posts about Moderation Management and moderate drinking I finish up talking about mindful drinking.


Choosing to alter your relationship with alcohol and drink moderately can be achieved through mindfulness and deliberate behavior modifications.  Mindfulness allows you to become aware of your ongoing moment-to-moment experience.  It is the opposite of “checking out.”  When you choose to tune in to the present moment and tap into your ability to increase self-awareness, changes in problematic drinking habits can occur.

Mindfulness acts as a well-lit mirror turned upon the self.  It allows you to see yourself and reality exactly as they are.  If the idea of casting the bright light of mindfulness onto your drinking habits makes you uncomfortable, it is worth asking yourself exactly what it is that you are afraid to see.  Mindfulness does not create anything that isn’t already present.  It is a tool that enables you to see things exactly as they are. When being mindful, you make no attempts to judge or change reality – you simply accept it.  Once you see things clearly and accept them for what they are, you are in the position to assess what you would like to see change.

So for me the mindfulness only came out when I stopped drinking as I liked to get ‘mindlessly drunk’.  As lovely as the idea of mindful drinking sounds it is also an oxymoron as alcohol reduces inhibitions so works to pull you in completely the opposite direction.  Nice idea – never gonna work for me and quite frankly I’m mad enough as it is! 😉

voluntary madness