I saw a birthday card on sale recently with a photograph of George Best on the front with the caption “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered”. This supposedly funny edict seemed especially insensitive to me as George died aged 59 from alcohol related liver disease following a liver transplant. Alcoholism is not funny it is a life-threatening disease which can rob you of your self-worth, family, friends and ultimately your life.
In the past it was thought that men were the heaviest drinkers but recent research by University College London revealed that 80% of women are now drinking at dangerous levels. Two thirds of alcohol consumption is happening in the home where people tend to use bigger glasses than in pubs and restaurants.
Sometimes people may have the mistaken belief that you’re not an alcoholic if you don’t drink first thing in the morning and you’re not a ‘down and out’ living on the streets. Before she was in recovery the late Betty Ford was in denial and is quoted as saying "My makeup wasn't smeared, I wasn't dishevelled, I behaved politely, and I never finished off a bottle, so how could I be alcoholic?" There is no stereotypical alcoholic, this disease crosses all societal boundaries and includes every possible age, background and occupation.
When Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp spoke about his battle with alcohol he said “I was trying to numb things. I was trying not to feel things, and that’s ridiculous. It’s one of the dumbest things you can do, because all you’re doing is postponing the inevitable”.
Giving up alcohol completely may not be easy but the first step towards recovery is admitting that you have a problem. If your drinking is causing you concern there are many organisations that offer support, advice and information such as www.drinkaware.co.uk www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk and www.cri.org.uk.
If you are the friend or relative of a problem drinker then www.coda-uk.org and www.al-anonuk.org.uk are just two of the many websites with helpful information.