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Alcohol Abuse - I can’t imagine a life without alcohol

Published 09/05/2008

Over two-thirds of Britons believe that life would be less enjoyable without alcohol. In a recent survey of clients and their families conducted by Linwood Group, 70 per cent felt that alcohol was vital to socialising, relaxing, celebrating -- or simply getting a good night's sleep.

Significantly, most believed this wasn't a problem, even those whose family members are problem drinkers.

So are we turning a blind eye to the risk of alcoholism and its effects? Linwood Group research director Sue Allchurch thinks so. "Drinking has become so commonplace in our society that even those who are not physically addicted are mentally dependent on alcohol and horrified by the thought of not drinking," she says.

In fact, she says, problem drinking is far more widespread than official statistics suggest: "If the definition of a problem drinker is taken as someone who drinks to alter their mood on a regular basis, our research suggests that most people can be classified as problem drinkers."

"Anyone who drinks daily is a problem drinker, even if they just have one or two drinks a day, because they are dependent on a mind-altering substance. These people don't necessarily go over the limit and they build up a tolerance which means they feel perfectly OK and can avoid acknowledging what's really going on with their mental and physical health."

Allchurch believes that using alcohol as a social crutch over a long period of time is the main cause behind the recent increase that she has seen in older alcoholics seeking treatment. "We're getting more middle-aged, middle-class, professional people who have crossed over into alcohol dependency in their forties and older," she says.

Alcohol, it seems, is our nation's socially acceptable legal drug of choice. But it's worth bearing in mind that people who don't drink at a social event can be confident that they won't do or say anything inappropriate, feel much better than their boozy counterparts the next day, and perhaps most importantly, can remember what a good time they had.

So why not consider going alcohol-free at your next social engagement? It could give you some valuable insight into the effects of alcohol on you, your friends and your family - and if you find the prospect of a sober evening impossible, maybe it's time to take a harder look at your relationship with alcohol.


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