Reduce alcohol consumption through taxation by volume, St Vincent’s Health urges

…in the long term “banning alcohol ads at sporting events is absolutely vital to stop young people getting involved in alcohol to begin with”…

The Guardian Tues 31 May 2016

click here for full article

The above sentence, which I picked out here, got a bit buried in the Guardian article about increasing the cost of alcohol  – as a way of dealing with excessive drinking in Australian society. I have long felt that such measures are only really effective in putting young people off drinking in the first place.

Ditto alcohol advertising at sporting events, which the article also highlights.

Heavy drinkers will be inconvenienced by a restriction to their access to alcohol, but not put off.

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Global Drug Survey: many Australians say they’re drinking too much and want help

Almost a quarter say they hurt themselves or others as a result of their drinking and 42% want to drink less

The Guardian, Monday 13 June, 2016

click to read full Guardian article

This is a fascinating article as it outlines how heavy drinkers are prone to acknowledge the need for help in dealing with their own alcohol consumption but also their unwillingness to get it.

And that, in my view, is because they don’t want to alter their drinking – even though they admit they need to. You have to want to stop or slow down if you’re going to actually do it. It’s not enough just to recognise the need.

Middle-aged are riskier drinkers than young adults, study finds

Those in middle age are more likely than young adults to exceed alcohol limits and develop serious health problems, finds charity Drinkaware…

More than half (59%) of middle-aged drinkers said they did not want guidance on how to moderate their intake

Drinkaware said middle-aged drinkers might think their drinking was not harmful because they were not experiencing negative consequences associated with drunkenness.

However, when asked, one in six (17%) of 45- to 64-year-old drinkers said they had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking and one in 10 (11%) said they failed to do what was normally expected of them because of their drinking.

The Guardian, Friday 29 May 2015

Click here for full Guardian online article

I came across the above article just now while trawling the internet for interesting alcohol related content.  I have here copied the salient bits and have commented below on the paragraph in the article about not wanting guidance. I think the guidance bit is really interesting. Why should it be any surprise that 6 in 10 drinkers didn’t want guidance on their drinking? Because unless you know you have a problem, why would you seek or want to follow any guidance? Most drinkers believe they have their drinking under control. As soon as they admit to themselves that their own drinking is problematic, then they are already on course to solving their problem. That’s why Alcoholics Anonymous are keen to stress that alcoholics usually have to hit rock-bottom before they can turn things around.

If you don’t actually want to slow down or give up drinking, then you will do all you can to distance yourself from the people whom we are told in the literature need to cut down their intake. Many of the articles about problem drinking make mention of the symptoms of alcoholism, and if you as a drinker don’t identify with any of these, then it’s very easy to conclude that you don’t have a problem and therefore don’t need a solution.

And that’s the problem with so much of the literature, including press articles, about alcohol. They talk about guidance and limits and problem-drinking, as though their audience have identified themselves as the target group. I never did. So it all fell on deaf ears.

Social media use may help identify students at risk of alcohol problems

Having an ‘alcohol identity’ puts college students at greater risk of having drinking problems, say researchers, adding that posting about alcohol use on social media sites is actually a stronger predictor of alcohol problems than having a drink.

North Carolina State University

May 27, 2016

click here to read the article

This article is all about drinking identity at college, and the correlation between having a drink problem and having a drinking identity on social media. The claim is that a drinking identity is a better indicator of a problem than the consumption of alcohol itself.

Back in the early 1980s when I was at University, and long before social media existed, my drinking identity got me through the early days and weeks on an all-male corridor at a North England University. I was an experienced alcohol consumer when I arrived at University and my ability to sink pints and generally hold my liquor made up for what I felt an otherwise weak personal identity.

I would have found social media a useful tool for this purpose, much as the article outlines.

Scotland now a ‘nation of home drinkers’

Adults in Scotland have increased their consumption of alcohol for the second year in a row, according to a report.

Wednesday 25 May, 2016 BBC

Click here for BBC online article

In my drinking days, articles like the one above, all about the increase in home-drinking (in Scotland as it happens, but it could have been anywhere, as far as I was concerned) would give me a warm glowing comforting sensation, based around the idea that I was by no means the only one to be drinking at home, or to be increasing the amount I was drinking generally. I could even console myself with the idea that my increased consumption on my part was someone else’s fault, as the article seemed to suggest, maybe the Government, or was it the supermarkets to blame?

Only at the mention of death might I feel a spasm of angst, but the numbers of deaths were always so low as a percentage of the overall numbers of drinkers, I hardly needed to worry, and any anxiety quickly evaporated.

I am inclined to think that these kinds of articles are counter-productive in the battle to reduce excessive drinking – not that this is the purpose of them, necessarily, on the part of the press.

But they contribute to a mass of reporting about alcohol which concentrates on the levels of consumption and little else.

It would be useful, I believe, if the press were to carry more stories that challenge the assumptions that alcohol is necessarily desirable, even at low levels of consumption.

Will Piper

6.7.16