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Five reasons to stay sober after October

Macmillan Cancer Support have raised over £1 million with their #gosober for October campaign. But is this a lifestyle that more of us should adopt permanently? Here are five great reasons to stay sober after October:

(1)     Binge drinking in Britain is costing the NHS just under £3 billion a year, with over 1 million annual alcohol-related admittances to hospital. These figures have almost doubled in the last ten years.

(2)     The consumption of alcoholic drinks may be a personal act, but personal behaviour in humans is heavily influenced by social and cultural factors. British ‘pub culture’ as described by Robin Room in Alcohol, where the pressure to ‘drink up’ has become a social norm, may be having a serious impact on the way in which we Brits perceive drinking.

(3)     The health benefits of alcohol consumption are very limited. According to Lionel Opie, author of Living Longer, Living Better, alcohol is a two-faced friend — a little helps, but more than that harms substantially. The ‘red wine’ hypothesis, which states that the beverage has benefits extending beyond its alcohol content, may also have some truth in it; deep red grape juice has the same effect of inhibiting blood clots, but only in higher doses. A fine Pinot Noir — the author’s favourite — may therefore be safely considered part of a healthy diet, but only in small doses.

Drunk young woman shallow DOF

(4)     In contrast, the negative effects of alcohol on the drinker can be enormous. In Alcoholism: The Facts the four stages of intoxication are described thus: the drinker becomes jocose, bellicose, then lachrymose, and finally comatose. These symptoms of jollity, aggression, depression, and then lack of consciousness might seem harmless enough the short term, but in the long term they can lead to cycles of dependency, particularly in social situations, that in turn can become addiction; and with addiction comes more serious health and social problems.

(5)     An alcoholic can be defined as someone who drinks, has problems from drinking, but goes on drinking anyway. What sort of problems are we talking about? If we include issues such as poor health, memory loss, and embarrassment, as well as the negative impact that alcohol consumption can have on our relationships and bank balances, then could more of us have problems from drinking than we would like to admit?

If you think you or a loved one is engaging in problem drinking, it might be time to take action.

Alcohol and Alcoholism publishes papers on biomedical, psychological and sociological aspects of alcoholism and alcohol research, provided that they make a new and significant contribution to knowledge in the field. Papers include new results obtained experimentally, descriptions of new experimental (including clinical) methods of importance to the field of alcohol research and treatment, or new interpretations of existing results.

Alcohol has always been an issue in public health but it is currently assuming increasing importance as a cause of disease and premature death worldwide. Alcohol: Science, Policy and Public Health provides an interdisciplinary source of information that links together the usually separate fields of science, policy, and public health.

Living Longer: The heart-mind connection is written for all those who strive for optimal long-term health and the maximal functioning of their hearts and minds. Professor Lionel H. Opie sifts through the available information on the vast number of possible health promotion changes, varying from increased exercise to aspirin to green tea, and diets from Atkins to the vegetarian, with the aim of grading the validity of the evidence, asking questions such as, “Just how true are the studies” and “Just how compelling are the facts they claim”?

The fourth edition of Alcoholism, written by a group of Dr Goodwin’s former colleagues, whilst retaining much of Dr Goodwin’s original material, offering his unique perspective on alcoholism. The new edition includes updated information about the effects of alcohol consumption on the body, a new section on the particular sensitivity of women to the effects of drinking, and information and advice relating to the consequences of alcohol abuse for the abusers, their families and society.

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Image credit: Drunk young woman shallow DOF. © SylvieBouchard via iStockphoto.

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