Drinking time – what is our measure of acceptable drinking?

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Drinking time – what is our measure of acceptable drinking?

Recently we were having a discussion at the bar in the restaurant where I work about the socially accepted time frames in which it was okey to drink certain alcoholic beverages. 

The examples were that drinking five pints of Guinness for breakfast, or tequila shots at 12 noon, were considered in the conversation as something that is not generally done or acceptable. There is the belief that there is a time and place for drinking certain drinks at certain times such as champagne or Prosecco for celebrations, or wine with a meal and beers with your mates after work. 

But the big elephant in the room, on our laps even, begs the question: 

Alcohol is known to cause much harm and damage to our bodies and society at large[1]. It doesn’t matter at what time of day it is taken for the body to treat it as a harmful substance, and yet we have this belief that it is acceptable in some parts of the day and not others.

Why is it that our mind can say it’s acceptable in some situations although our bodies would say it never is?

Even if we didn't have science to lay the facts out that alcohol is a poison, we would still know this as a truth if we observed the body’s reaction in its first interaction with the substance, all the way through to the subsequent breakdown of health that occurs from further consumption. 

When we look at the collected research that documents the end results that our bodies are showing us we find:

  • Many injuries and death such as from motor vehicle crashes, domestic violence, anti social behaviour/fights, homicide, sexual assault and more[2]
  • Over time our overloaded systems can develop high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, digestive issues, cancer, mental health illness and social dysfunction as just the tip of the iceberg[2]
  • In 2014 in the UK, there were 6,831 deaths which were related to the consumption of alcohol[3]
  • In 2014/15 in the UK there were 1.1 million estimated admissions where an alcohol-related disease, injury or condition was the primary reason for admission, or a secondary diagnosis[3].

So then, with everything laid bare the question remains: when is it an appropriate and acceptable time to poison ourselves? The answer is not that time is the deciding factor but actually it’s the pictures we hold and live by that say in certain situations it’s OK to have a drink.

  • It’s OK to have a drink at the end of a long day to relax and unwind.
  • It’s OK to have a drink when with friends so that we can relax and have fun together, because without the drink social interactions can be awkward or reserved at best.
  • It’s OK to drink alcohol because we feel down and need a ‘pick me up’ from the sugar.
  • It’s OK to have a drink after we have experienced a huge trauma or stressful situation to help numb us from feeling what has just happened – a way of escaping and distancing ourselves from a life we feel to be too overwhelming and out of our control.

Alcohol is effective in these situations, and the perception of there being a right or wrong time to drink is based on individual relationships with those situations; some may need to drink and others may have different ways of being in/with the moment.

In its natural state our bodies respond to and express love and harmony. And when we start to bring self-care and self-love into our lives we start to learn that yes, situations in life may feel tense, awkward or painful, but that there is another way of addressing and supporting ourselves with these feelings rather than numbing, altering, speeding up and ultimately poisoning the body that is feeling everything. Our body and its awareness is one of the greatest friends we can have and it can show us that there are other ways to be in life when we open up to making different lifestyle choices.

In this we learn that it is never an appropriate time to abuse ourselves and that when free of the effects of alcohol the body is able to support us in those moments that we initially believed we could not be in without its presence.


References

  • [1]

    World Health Organisation Global Status Report on Alcohol (2004). Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/globalstatusreportalcohol2004_socproblems.pdf

  • [2]

    Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Fact Sheets – Alcohol Use and Your Health, (2016) Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm

  • [3]

    UK Government National Statistics, Statistics on Alcohol, England, (2016) Retrieved from: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/statistics-on-alcohol-england-2016

Filed under

Alcoholabuselifestyle diseases

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    By Leigh Matson

    A lover of exploring everyday life and what there is to be discovered each day. Waitress, cook, writer and so much more.

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    Photography: Steve Matson, Photographer