Review of Evening Talk on Alcohol Awareness on November 15, 2016 by John Baker

‘A Sobering Experience – Double pun intended’

Fancy a tipple or two? – Sure, it’s almost the Silly Season – time to kick back and break open a bottle or two.  I do.  But after John’s presentation – I shall now – count the units – and ‘measure my measures’.

How many clients report their relationship(s) have changed? more arguments? – the question is posed, ‘when does this happen?’. Soon it’s established, that it’s the evening, after ‘the usual’ few drinks.  How much do you drink? – Oh not much, just a few glasses.

Spend a few hours with John and he’ll soon explain how our world is changing rapidly when it comes to alcohol consumption.  A quick experiment shows how most of us are more than generous when it comes to home measures.  Glasses are getting bigger, and so a normal measure is dwarfed, so we pour more.

Why does it really matter?  John educated us further from many angles.

How it’s pretty much a bad idea to drink and drive – that the amount of time required to process alcohol (even on a very full stomach) is usually a lot more than most imagine.  Take for example the average pint (3.5%) It is close to 2 units of alcohol – it’s not unusual for someone to ‘just have a couple of pints’ and head home for dinner etc.  At near 4 units – regardless of your size – you are then or very shortly afterwards over the legal limit to drive.  If you’ve had a big dinner, the level in your system may just peak slightly later – it will still ‘be the same’. What’s the point of all this?  Education – that’s it.  No judgement.

 

The culture in the UK for drinking at home on a regular basis has increased dramatically in the past decade or so.  (Drinking at the pub for some has been a regular thing).  The side effects of these are being witnessed so heavily in the health system that the maximum recommended units for males has recently been decreased from 21 to 14 per week.

We are privy to asking questions of our clients that others may not – and therefore – have an opportunity to educate regarding the dangers of drinking levels:

  • Sensible drinking: 2-3 units per day (note there is no deemed ‘safe’ level of drinking)
  • Harmful drinking: 14-35 units per week
  • Hazardous:           > 35 units per week
  • Binge drinking:      4 + units per session

As you can see much of the terminology is vague – Where is the line drawn health-wise between harmful and hazardous?  There was some interesting discussion as to what people interpret as binge drinking – no many would necessarily have named it as above.

John shared some personal stories about his drinking (and driving) history years ago- the dangers he was unaware of both on the road and also to his health – he’s highly suspicious his type 2 diabetes is related to his Friday night pints with a few whiskies at home later (for many not considered much).  At this time John now realises he would often have exceeded or reached his weekly limit of ‘recommended maximum’ units for “those days” (previously 21 now 14).  So John is passionate about sharing the dangers of lack of knowledge and how slowly but surely – alcohol can contribute to some (possibly) irreversible conditions.  Some sobering images were shown us comparing liver at healthy, fatty and finally cirrhosis.  We also got information on the level of deaths, and serious health issues that even ‘low level’ drinking over long periods can cause.

Our time to explore detailed ways in which to incorporate this into our counselling was limited -but I think everyone present felt well informed as they left.

John used some wonderful humour throughout his presentation.  He also furnished us with some handy gadgets that show quickly how many units many variations of drinks contain.

As with many engaging presentations, the only thing we lacked was more time.

Thank you John.

Sinead Mitchell