Tag Archives: alcohol

Alcohol consumption among university students in the British Isles

university student drinkingSo it feels like we’ve hit pretty much every other demographic from young person to older people except university students.  So to the left is the university drinking league table for 2015 where they quizzed 1,649 UK university students via an online survey, asking all about your drinking habits and attitudes towards alcohol.  And here is the research paper that looks at university student drinking from a research and academic point of view!  My current university it seems is 46th on the list out of 50.

Abstract

Background

Alcohol is a leading cause of global suffering. Europe reports the uppermost volume of alcohol consumption in the world, with Ireland and the United Kingdom reporting the highest levels of binge drinking and drunkenness. Levels of consumption are elevated among university students. Thus, this literature review aims to summarise the current research on alcohol consumption among university students in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Methods

MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE and PsychInfo were systematically searched for literature from January 2002 until December 2014. Each database was searched using the following search pillars: alcohol, university student, Ireland or the United Kingdom and prevalence studies.

Results

Two thousand one hundred twenty eight articles were retrieved from electronic database searching. These were title searched for relevance. 113 full texts were retrieved and assessed for eligibility. Of these, 29 articles were deemed to meet inclusion criteria for the review. Almost two thirds of students reported a hazardous alcohol consumption score on the AUDIT scale. Over 20 % reported alcohol problems over their lifetime using CAGE while over 20 % exceed sensible limits each week. Noteworthy is the narrowing of the gender gap throughout the past decade.

Conclusion

This is the first review to investigate consumption patterns of university students in Ireland and the United Kingdom. A range of sampling strategies and screening tools are employed in alcohol research which preclude comparability. The current review provides an overview of consumption patterns to guide policy development.

To read the full paper go here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4759952/

Edited to add: for anyone who missed the excellent Louis Theroux  documentary Drinking to Oblivion last night on BBC 2 it’s showing on iPlayer for the next 29 days here:

Drinking to Oblivion

No link has gone up on Youtube yet but as soon as it does I’ll share it here for my non UK based readers 🙂

Edited to add 30th Sept 2017:

Are universities failing to act on heavy drinking?

 

Polite ways to pass on booze

The question that I dread the most and keeps me hiding out at home still is this one.  What to say when people ask you what you want to drink and when you ask for a non-alcoholic option and the questions then follow what’s your ‘go to’ response?

In some respects having young children has really helped me as I don’t have much of a social life!  When I’ve gone to parties I’ve taken alcohol free beer such as Becks Blue and that has avoided this question being asked but I would really like a killer line, ya know.  Witty, yet deflective and maintains boundaries, particularly mine in this instance!

One that they shared in the Almost Alcoholic book that I talked about before here which I really like is this one:

“Thanks, but I drank my whole life’s quota of alcohol by the time I was forty, so I’ll pass”

The person who used this was a nurse and she said that many people responded with a smile or a laugh and no one ever frowned or pressed her to take a drink.  I like that and may co-opt this for myself 🙂

The one that feels most comfortable for me right now is that ‘I don’t drink anymore because for me life is so much better without it’.

What’s worked for you when dodging booze that I could also try?

94 days to go

PS Completely unrelated but I just had to mention as a nurse and employee of the NHS that yesterday it was voted the best healthcare system in the world by an international panel of experts.  “The United Kingdom ranks first overall, scoring highest on quality, access and efficiency,” the fund’s researchers conclude in their 30-page report. Their findings amount to a huge endorsement of the health service, especially as it spends the second-lowest amount on healthcare among the 11 – just £2,008 per head, less than half the £5,017 in the US. Only New Zealand, with £1,876, spent less.  We don’t often get an opportunity to toot our horn and this is my blog so three cheers for the NHS!!! 🙂

Impact of booze on your liver

After sharing yesterday’s documentary it seemed only appropriate to share this video too.  I promise no more uncomfortable medical video posts for a while.

This was shared by Alcohol News which you can follow here.  This show only aired in the last few weeks so is very recent.

The scary thing is the Dr talks about the additional burden alcohol places on females as we are just not as able to process alcohol as men.  I watched this and feared for my poor liver!  My intention is not to scare anyone into quitting but we need to be aware of the implications of what heavy drinking does to the body and how important our liver is to our general well-being and health.

Back to our usually more upbeat blog schedule now! 🙂

‘Rain in My Heart’ Drinkers documentary

There was a discussion on Soberistas about this British BBC documentary which I had never heard of before and therefore not seen.

I watched it last night and it reminded me very much of my nursing days which I talked about here.  I also wrote a guest post for Veronica Valli that was my account of caring for a dying alcoholic that you can read here.

It was filmed in 2006 and is a hard-hitting, shocking and saddening account of the lives of 4 alcoholics during hospital admissions and relapse.  If you wanted an insight into my nursing experience then this is a very accurate and true reflection.

Here is the link to the documentary:

Why I am I sharing it here?  Because my nursing experience helps keep me on the recovery path.  Although as a drinker my alcohol consumption never reached this level or had this impact on my physical health I knew that this is where I would end up if I carried on.  It is a sobering ever present reminder to me and maybe it will help you stay on the path if you are wobbling or strengthen your resolve to stop if you haven’t yet.

Guest Post: Telltale signs interactive quiz

I was contacted recently by Ella Jameson who wanted to share a new tool with me.  Ella is a freelance writer and contributor to many different websites, blogs and magazines.  After graduating from university, Ella worked as an editor and copywriter for several years before becoming a freelance journalist; specialist subjects include travel, food, health and fitness, and the environment.

The tool aims to help concerned friends or family identify and spot the first warning signs of potential drug abuse, and has had a very positive response so far. Aimed at parents (or anyone else concerned about the possibility of drug abuse in a young person) the quiz highlights the most common tell-tale signs of drug use through a series of questions. The answers suggest both medical and drug-based explanations; e.g. red eyes can be a symptom of marijuana/alcohol use, but also medical conditions such as conjunctivitis or eye allergies.

The teen years can be a minefield for parents as they battle resentful and secretive children, and one of the main concerns is the fear that their child may be drawn into a dark world of addiction and drug abuse. It would be a mistake to assume that your child would ‘never’ use drugs, but what can you do to minimise the risk of drug addiction in your child? If you are educated about the symptoms of drug abuse then you should be able to spot the warning signs as soon as possible, but during a time when physical and psychological changes are rampant in teens, it can be hard to discern what is a sign of drug or alcohol abuse and what is ‘normal’ teen behaviour. This ‘Tell-Tale Signs’ interactive quiz is aimed at helping parents determine whether symptoms are an indication of drug abuse or have a more innocent explanation. Have a look at a few of the most frequent warning signs and their possible explanations…

You can access here also: http://www.sobercollege.com/telltale-signs-of-drug-use/.

I would love to hear what you think, as I’m sure Ella would too 🙂

 

Research on CBT for alcohol use disorder

So I receive email updates from Alcohol Policy UK and recently one of them highlighted a new meta-analysis of published studies on the effectiveness of combining cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing (MI) to treat comorbid clinical and subclinical alcohol use disorder (AUD) and major depression (MDD) and estimate the effect of this compared with usual care.

The researchers conducted systematic literature searches in PubMed, PsycINFO and Embase up to June 2013 and identified additional studies through cross-references in included studies and systematic reviews. Twelve studies comprising 1721 patients met their inclusion criteria. The studies had sufficient statistical power to detect small effect sizes.

They concluded that combined cognitive-behavioural therapy and motivational interviewing for clinical or subclinical depressive and alcohol use disorders has a small but clinically significant effect in treatment outcomes compared with treatment as usual.

Let’s see if my anecdotal experience supports their research findings? I hope so 🙂  If you were prone to depression before when you were drinking has it improved if you’ve stopped?

Riper, H., Andersson, G., Hunter, S.B., de Wit, J., Berking, M. and Cuijpers, P. 2014
Treatment of comorbid alcohol use disorders and depression with cognitive-behavioural therapy and motivational interviewing: a meta-analysis. Addiction. Mar;109(3):394-406. doi: 10.1111/add.12441. Epub 2014 Jan 16.

Why me? Thinking and Drinking

This is the mother load for me.  Everything is my responsibility and my fault, good or bad, happy or sad.  Drinking was my personal stick to beat myself with for years.  I could ‘why me?’ about drinking ad infinitum.  Why am I the only one who can’t drink normally?  What did I do to make this happen to me? On and on and on.

Personalisation is where we attribute personal responsibility for something, including the resulting blame or praise, for events over which we have no control (source) Or, welcome to the world of parenting, I digress 😉

Nothing allows this better than drinking.  Imbibe lip loosening, inhibition dropping addictive substance in vast quantities and stand well back.  OK so I picked up the first glass that IS my responsibility.  But the cascade of events afterwards, however much the bottle of alcohol says ‘drink responsibly’ – sorry this is an oxymoron and paradox rolled into one.

Strategy, for the last time, involves – you guessed it – checking the evidence!  Not everything is our fault and it doesn’t always happen to me only.  I am just not that damn special or ‘terminally unique’ as AA would say 🙂

I should say everything was my responsibility because I’m drawing boundaries around this one and progress is swift when you put down the glass.  Maybe you’d like to join me? 🙂

Labelling Drinking

This is a real biggie in our world.  We use labelling to connect with people but also to distance ourselves.  So I am happy to be a member of the sober blogging community because that has positive connotations for me but am still stuck on the ‘am I an alcoholic?’ question because the label of alcoholic still carries and attracts very negative stigma.

“This is a more severe type of overgeneralization; attributing a person’s actions to their character instead of some accidental attribute. Rather than assuming the behavior to be accidental or extrinsic, the person assigns a label to someone or something that implies the character of that person or thing” (source)

Being unable to control our drinking is seen as a character defect rather than the reflection of an alcoholic substance that we have accidentally become addicted too because of our cultural acceptance and encouragement of us to drink.  For me it suggests that I am a ‘bad’ person and that I have ‘failed’ in some way.   But I am not defined by my ability to drink alcohol or not, this is just a tiny facet of me as a person, and yet I feel shame.

Strategies to manage:

  • Back to checking for evidence.  I am not the only person struggling with this issue and thanks to the sober blogging community I know this.  I could always go to an AA meeting in real life and check it there too.
  • Beware of labels as they usually hide the truth

What other labels need deconstructing and redefining?  Sober and what that means is the first one that springs to my mind.  What else? Chime in below 🙂

Mental Filtering and Drinking

This is times when I focusing entirely on negative elements of a situation, to the exclusion of the positive.  I guess for me and drinking that would be thinking about when I was moderating and how when I started to drink heavily again how I could not think about the times of moderating as positive and how each time I was learning new tools for my sober toolkit.  They weren’t wasted they were valuable learning opportunities but I saw them as negative relapses.

Also, it is the brain’s tendency to filter out information which does not conform to already held beliefs.  So if someone said something nice about this blog post I might still think it was not good enough and that it should have been better written because I believe I am not creative.

This is mental filtering.

As Almost Alcohol wrote: Look at how I drink. Obviously I’m an alcoholic. I can’t even quit when I try really hard. I fucking relapsed.  In this piece of writing she focused on the fictional relapse and not on the successful quitting before that night.

The new way of thinking includes:

  • Checking the evidence to support the statement
  • Write a list of all the ‘good bits’ no matter how small they seem by comparison
  • Try not to filter out all the bad stuff and just focus on that

Every time you attempt to moderate and do so successfully, for however long a duration, this is a good thing if you are trying to cut down or stop completely.  I spent years moderating before I finally nailed this quit and I wouldn’t have done it without all the good things I learned about my drinking and myself during the process.  It’s not always the outcome but the process which teaches us the most or to use the oft used expression ‘it is not the destination but the journey’.

What great things did you learn when you turn your mental filter to positive?  I’d love to hear them 🙂

 

Emotional Reasoning and Drink

It could be argued that once I drank there was no reasoning with me.  I became completely at the mercy of my emotions.  But now I don’t drink and so I am less ‘tired and emotional’ (code for pissed and sobbing) and my reasoning is more reasonable 🙂

So emotional reasoning is when we react emotionally and let our hearts rule our heads.  Where we are presuming that negative feelings expose the true nature of things, and experiencing reality as a reflection of emotionally linked thoughts. Thinking something is true, solely based on a feeling (source)

So sometimes in the early days of stopping I felt bored in the evenings because I’d stopped drinking so I felt I was boring.  Feeling = being.  Or when I’m due to clean my house and I think that it’s hopeless to do it because I’m overwhelmed by the prospect of doing it!  Not helpful and also not true as I always feel tons better when it’s done with a real sense of achievement.

Over to Almost Alcohol‘s passage: I’m just a pretty crap person. I might as well learn to live with that. Fuck it. Lots of people are crappy. We all grow up and learn the truth, that we are just not that great.  Because I feel like crap I am crap.

Solutions involve:

  • Searching for the evidence to support feeling this way.
  • If you do find them you may have to accept you are being ’emotional’
  • You can accept that you are putting yourself down for no good reason
  • But you do have a choice
  • You can continue to feel this way
  • OR you can tell yourself that there is no reason why you are feeling this way
  • And then try to work out how you should be feeling

As a female I get caught up in this type of thinking because I am unfortunately hormonally challenged fairly regularly which doesn’t help.  And sometimes I just accept that this is the reason and it will pass.  How ’bout you?

PS I am using a piece of writing by another sober blogger because it was SO good and illustrated so many examples of these types of thinking without me having to write a forced piece including them all.  I am using it because it completely reflects how I felt and is not a reflection on her individually.  I am also mentioning and linking every time because I don’t want to not acknowledge her brilliant writing talent 🙂