Yay! It's nearly Christmas! I love Christmas! Despite a (non oppressive) religious upbringing - I hold no religious beliefs - but still love Christmas! Christmas is the time when there is the spirit of goodwill - although I do think 'it' and the magic of Christmas are fading; merriment abounds, families gather and all is well with the world.
Like many people, I am beginning to stock up on alcohol; this is the only time that stocks exist in my household; okay, there may be a few tinnies left over from last week - but that's about it! There is the box of Liebfraumilch to be purchased for Christmas Dinner - I realise that this identifies me as a wine peasant as opposed to a wine connoisseur and indicates that I am stuck in the past - but me and my family like it! I can only find it at the Co-op - God Bless the Co-op! I must admit, that despite being a wine peasant, I do look down on those that drink Lambrusco - ugh! There will be vodka for the eldest son and lager for me (spirits do not agree with me as I become, erm, well drunk - quickly!) and youngest son. Apart from what we might receive as prezzies - that will be it!
I am not interested in celebrating the New Year and never have been. I usually see it in with a cup of tea, that is, unless it falls on a Friday. Friday is the night I drink alcohol (and a very occasional Wednesday) in the comfort of my home. As New Years Eve does fall on a Friday this year, I may see it in with alcofrol or a cup of tea! I may have finished imbibing before midnight!
Working as I do in a care home, I am aware of the devastating effects of alcohol (if abused), for there are some residents in my home with alcohol related dementia. I found this while researching and am not surprised by it. I think the general public are largely unaware of this aspect of alcohol related harm, which I find concerning.
So, what is it with us Brits and alcohol? Do we have a national problem? I think that probably we do. Yes, some of us drink sensibly - but many of us don't. Drinking (to excess) has become culture based; a rite of passage for the young that develops into a habit (dependence?) with some, particularly the middle classes. This last fact always suprises me as I guess I am a bit of a snob, thinking that only those who exist on the peripheries of society might have a drink problem.
In the UK, it is estimated that 24% of adults drink in a hazardous or harmful way and alcohol related disease is a significant NHS burden. In the UK there are approximately 5 million non-drinkers, 40 million social drinkers, 10 million "at risk" drinkers, 1 million problem drinkers and 200,000 dependent drinkers.
Hospital admissions relating to alcohol are rising on a yearly basis as are deaths related to liver cirrhosis related to heavy drinking. It is estimated that each year, 5-10,000 people die prematurely from alcohol abuse.
In England in 2009, there were over 150,000 prescription items for the treatment of alcohol dependency. This is an increase of 12% since 2008 and 49% since 2003.
The financial costs to the UK in respect of Health (£217 million spent in 2003-4 by PCTs and local authorities in support of alcohol treatment alone ), Work (absenteeism), Crime & Public Disorder and Family/Social networks (cost not qualified) runs into billions. Source: Institute of Alcohol Studies - download pdf 380kb.
So "Yes", I think we do have a problem, although it is said, that the country still thinks it is a "population of responsible drinkers". You wouldn't say that if you saw my nearest city centre some nights!
In the days when I was young - which is too many moons ago than I care to remember - I was a regular social drinker, but I don't recall binge drinking; I did get drunk on occasion, the most memorable(?) being at a works Christmas 'Do' held in the furniture store where I worked in admin. But I remember this because it was a rarity - would I recall this today if being drunk was a nightly occurence, which it seems to be for some of our young folk today.
But I might not be telling the whole story..... perhaps in the past, I have had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol..... perhaps I haven't!
Are some of us deluding ourselves that the UK does not have a problem with alcohol, as we know that we drink over the recommended (but arbitrary) limits, and do not wish to wear the label of a 'problem' drinker? In today's criteria, as I drink my limit on one night - I would be classified as a binge drinker. Do I think I have a problem? No - but others might.
What do you think about alcohol consumption in the UK?