How Much Do You Drink?

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That’s the question that makes you cross your legs in shame in middle-age, similar in awkwardness to when the doctor used to ask you how much you smoked or how often you have sex, or (more pertinent these days) when was your last mammogram? Fact: every smoker lies.

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The ‘walk of shame’ these days is related to how often you go to the pub or the bottle shop in a week because apparently us middle-aged folk (and particularly Generation X) are leading the way in alcoholism. And it’s seriously affecting our health. Even I can’t ignore the stats about the increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease due to alcohol – not to mention the anti-social behavior that goes hand in hand with binge-drinking.

 

However…

 

Don’t you think it’s all a bit over the top? I mean, people have always drunk alcohol – apparently, it’s been around since 2000BC so even Jesus Christ would have gone on a bender at some point – and the Mediterranean diet, which condones drinking at lunchtime and dinnertime, has some of the lowest records for cancer and heart disease.

 

You might be aware if you follow this blog and my Facebook page, that I am a self-medicator of the alcohol kind and medically-speaking I am an alcoholic because I drink most nights of the week. If I moved to Spain, where up to thirty-five units a week is acceptable, I’d be fine – for the sake of humor, let’s ignore that that figure applies to men. Indeed, not only do I self-medicate, I am also medicated to get me through each day. And don’t get me wrong, I have tried other ways to improve my mental outlook – exercising, clothes shopping and binge-eating – yet none of them comes close to a glass of wine at the end of the day.

 

We drinkers are being as shamed as smokers were a decade ago – and I know, because I was one of them, and it was a very black period in my personal history and the only way I got through it was by consoling myself that at least there was still wine.

 

Not anymore. It’s a crime against humanity to drink more than one unit of alcohol a day now – up there with smoking while pregnant, eating red meat or asking your teenager to get a beer from the fridge. ‘Drinking’ has been stigmatized and I thank god that my kids are old enough and wise enough to accept me for what I am without too much judgment.

 

But it’s hard to ignore the criticism when the topic du jour at every social event is how much you drink.

 

And I know many people that have stopped drinking in middle age or cut back because it no longer agrees with their aging cells, and sometimes I do wish I could be one of them. Fortunately, I’m a battler and so when I first began to feel the detrimental side effects of white wine, I  persisted and switched to red in a valiant attempt to make it work.

 

I don’t judge. I don’t have a problem drinking with people that choose not to drink, although it can be hard to deflect the judgment from my husband who now abstains during the week and then binge drinks at the weekend.

 

For the record, I think I drink in moderation. I don’t binge drink and I usually have at least one night off a week – although admittedly, the benefit of those nights can be lost the following night in a celebration of just how great my discipline is.

 

Life is short. And perhaps moderate drinking will make it even shorter, in the same way that sky-diving might, or a poor diet, or stress – which can be nicely combatted by an odd glass or two. We all have our different crosses to bear and different mechanisms for coping and we take risks just by getting into a car each day. For some, drinking helps manage the pain of that weight.

 

I drink ten units a week. *lying*

 

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