If it was 1997, the fact that British women are among the heaviest drinkers in the world would have me beaming with pride while exclaiming, ‘Get in ladies! GET IN!!’
However it’s 2018 and ladette culture is so last century! So how is it that we are in this completely embarrassing situation?
Micky Flanagan Knows What Time It Is
I love Micky Flanagan! He is smart, down to earth, has fabulous hair and he’s bloody hilarious! He does this bit in his live show about women’s changing relationship with alcohol.
Everything he says makes me laugh but this one got even more than normal because I saw myself in it.
I was the woman who started the evening with a couple of glasses at 7pm (6, ahem) and I was still knocking them back 5 hours later while dancing with my mates in the living room. I was the woman refilling supersized glasses of 12.5% Pinot as if it’s lemonade and reaching for shots as the night threatens to end.
It’s normal!! Genuinely, it’s what women do nowadays. Messy and painful the next day, yes but they take the guilt, regret and hangover for the sake of that night to remember (assuming they can remember it). It’s a treat, an event!
Except it’s a very regular event, which is stealing time, money, self esteem and in some cases, lives.
British Women Are Among The Heaviest Drinkers In The World
A study by Washington University School of Medicine examined the drinking patterns of over 400,000 people across 195 countries between the ages of 16 and 85, over a 26 year period. It’s pretty comprehensive!
The study found that British women now drink as much as men, 3 drinks a day on average. (A drink is considered a unit – a large glass of wine is 2.5 to 3 units). We drink similar amounts to Swedish and Danish women and slightly less than those in Ukraine and Belarus.
The big headline causing conclusion is that any amount of alcohol increases the chance of disease and reduces life expectancy – there is no safe amount of alcohol! Pretty major stuff. Of course it depends on the amount you drink but as an example, a bottle of wine a week can increase the risk of breast cancer by 10%.
Despite calls for health warnings to be placed on alcoholic drinks a la cigarettes, drinks companies are getting away with murder. They are obviously reluctant to emblazon their sophisticated labels with ugly health warnings. Drinks manufacturers prefer the old news that a glass of wine a day can improve heart health.
So Why Have We All Fallen For The Alcohol Lie?
The multimillion dollar advertising campaign by alcohol incorporated told us all that our lives would be better with booze. We would be more attractive, more confident, less insignificant, more sophisticated and probably more good looking as long as we consumed their product. It’s the alcohol lie.
Us mere mortals are no match for the might of governments and drink companies who want to keep our glasses topped up and their coffers full.
Going out? Alcohol!
Staying in? Alcohol!
Breathing? You get the point….
Drink, drink, drink and then drink some more. Why stop? Everyone’s doing it. It’s normal!
What can we do to fight back?
Well you can do as I do and quit. Okay I know it’s a huge step and not for everyone but it’s the best thing I have ever done in all my 43 years and I have done many good things. Read more about the benefits of abstinence here. You can also read Gemma’s story of giving up alcohol and how much better she feels for it, here.
Something I could never master is moderate drinking. I am pretty much an ‘open a bottle, drink a bottle’ type of gal but Jen Johnson explains beautifully why mindful drinking is the answer for her, here.
There are so many ways to enjoy life without alcohol and so many benefits to quitting or just cutting down massively. We simply need to acknowledge what the drinks companies don’t want us to know – drinking regularly is not good for you and should not be seen as normal. Alcohol is harming rather than enhancing your life.
So Do You Feel Free?
You may believe you are exercising your freedom of choice by drinking whenever you damn well want. But if you are just responding to the alcohol lie then isn’t that more like obedience?
Freedom is choosing your own destiny, so when I see that British women are among the heaviest drinkers in the world I feel desperately sad. It’s Asch’s conformity experiments being played out in real life. We know something doesn’t feel quite right about the situation but everyone else seems to be okay with it so we make our ‘choice’. It’s not all that clear to us that it’s a bad choice when it’s the popular choice.
The fact is that alcohol is responsible for around 1 in 20 deaths worldwide with 13% of men and 4.7% of women in the UK suffering from alcohol misuse disorders. (World Health Organisation) If you’re waiting for the government to do something about this then don’t hold your breath. Your best option? Make better choices for yourself.