Our love of alcohol

One of the questions I’m asked a lot is whether someone has to give up alcohol. I hate this question around Christmas, because I know what they want me to say is of course no carry on drinking, and I know what I’ve got to say is ideally yes you need to stop. In many respects the client knows that the answer in advance and it isn’t going to make them happy!

We are very wedded to alcohol, our cultures way of celebrating is with alcohol, and only a good night out is associated with the great level of alcohol that was consumed. We have terms called the ‘beer goggles’ in regards to how we end up seeing things as the night goes on, and of course some of you will have got home via their ‘beer scooter’.

In 2015, 86.4 percent of Americans aged 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime, and I can’t see that this isn’t true for those of us in the UK and Ireland. But we have seen a change in drinking habits over the past few years and that is less of us are actually drinking but more of us are binge drinking. In the same survey 26.9 percent of Americans aged 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the previous month.

Now before those of you reading this in the UK sit back and shake your heads, wait before taking the moral ground. In Great Britain 2016, 56.9% of Opinions and Lifestyle Survey respondents aged 16 years and over drank alcohol, which equates to 29 million people in the population, with 7.8 million people confessing to binge on alcohol on their heaviest drinking day.

Alcohol is one of the leading preventable causes of death in America with approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women dying from alcohol-related causes yearly, smoking and poor diet are ahead of this. More men than women generally drink. With even the WHO reporting that alcohol is linked to over 200 diseases and injury related conditions I don’t think the impact of drinking heavily is widely appreciated or that for some of us heavy drinking is a way of life that is the norm.

But interestingly it’s dropping, yes the numbers of us reporting drinking alcohol is not actually getting higher in the UK, and is at it’s lowest reported level since 2005. In 2016, of all people 20.9% (around 10.6 million people in the population) said that they did not drink alcohol, which since 2005 is a 2% increase in the number.

So the tide of drinking currently is changing, but what is clear is that at some point some of us will have a problem with drinking.

Alcohol is easily absorbed through the GI tract. Those of you lining your stomach with milk and having food before you go out will be doing your very best to slow down that absorption rate. So your mother wasn’t wrong to tell you to drink a pint of milk because it works!

We all know that drinking affects the liver, and your liver does it’s best to try and deal with what you are drinking by metabolising it. That which isn’t metabolised goes into the blood stream and this is where you start to get drunk because effectively the liver can only deal with so much each hour and we tend to drink more than 1 glass during that time.

When the body isn’t able to do this quickly enough to keep up with you, it becomes that great night out that is talked about, and the drunker you will get. The need to urinate increases and the queue to the ladies gets longer, as you effectively begin removing the bi-products that the liver can’t metabolise fast enough. These are acetaldehyde, and acetate, you potentially are more familiar with them than you realise because they are the bi products that also make you feel sick.

There potentially ends that great night out…



2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) carried out in the United States


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