Health and wellbeing

ROUND AND ROUND

As the festive season approaches, this may be especially relevant. Drinkaware, the independent, industry-funded alcohol education charity, recently issued a report on the subject of drinking in rounds. They say that 35% of the 2,000 people surveyed drink more than they intend because they were drinking with others. There is, they say, a culture of peer pressure around drinking, especially in the 18 to 24 age group, with 34% drinking more than they wanted because they did not want to be impolite and refuse a drink and 29% saying they wanted to keep up with others. Work appears to be a flashpoint with 43% of people saying there is too much pressure to drink when socialising with work colleagues while 13% of men and 8% of women say that they are influenced to drink more by their boss or superior. Worryingly, 21% admitted to having encouraged someone to drink more alcohol after they said they didn’t want to and 19% had given someone an alcoholic drink or topped up their glass without asking first.

I don’t dispute the validity of this research. I suspect that we have all experienced it at some point. Surely however, in practice, it has to be down to the individual. If you prefer to ‘stay on your own’, as indeed I do, just do so. Others must then respect that decision and under no circumstances should anyone force alcohol onto others. That is anti-social behaviour at its worst. It helps if the pub has some decent no or low alcohol drinks available and is prepared to serve the occasional pint of tap water.

It is worth remembering here that it is against the law to buy alcohol for someone who is already drunk, just as it is illegal for bar staff to serve alcohol to someone who is inebriated.

If you want to investigate this further, Drinkaware have an Alcohol Vulnerability Awareness e-learning course which gives practical advice on how to support the vulnerable, see elearning@drinkaware.co.uk.

CUTTING BACK

Another recent Drinkaware reports says that, of 3,000 people surveyed, it is the 40 to 64 age group that have most problems in cutting back, with only 49% doing so. This, of course, presumes that they feel that they need to, and brings us back to the old issue of the alcohol limits. To remind you, the limit is 14 units a week on a regular basis for both men and women while the definition of ‘binge drinking’ is more than eight units of alcohol in a single session for men and six units for women. Eight units is the equivalent of four pints of a 3.5% ABV beer. The sensible part of this advice is to have several alcohol-free days each week, which a number of my friends and I do, and is recommended.

Compiled by Tony Hedger