According to the latest and scientifically proven findings, alcohol consumption constitutes a direct contribution to premature death and increasing incidence rates, including cancer incidence. There is no safe or healthy dose of alcohol. Yet many people are still fond of the bottle, while non-drinkers are shunned during social gatherings. Why is this happening and how can it be changed?
Europe drinks the most alcohol
According to the European Information System on Alcohol and Health (EISAH), Europe tops the charts when it comes to diseases and premature deaths related to alcohol consumption.
Social acceptance of alcohol makes the European Union the region with the highest alcohol consumption in the world.
According to the Office for National Statistics in the United Kingdom, nearly 60% of people drink alcohol at least once a week, while as many as 8 million people consume it in very large quantities during the day when they drink the most. The answers given to surveys conducted in 2016 showed that 56.9% of people aged around 16 had consumed alcohol – this corresponded to 29 million people in the entire population.
Do wages influence the quantity of consumed alcohol?
Individuals with the highest wages drink a lot more than those with the lowest.
During studies conducted in 2016, this regularity was observed for example in England, Scotland and Wales. It was also revealed that beer was the most frequently chosen alcoholic drink among wealthy men, while women preferred wine.
Another point that bears mentioning is that women were the predominant group among wealthy alcohol-consuming people. Studies carried out by Washington University have also shown that an average rich woman in the United Kingdom consumes 3 alcoholic drinks a day.
How many people in Europe are addicted to alcohol?
Addiction is a chronic and recurrent brain illness that consists in the constant craving of addictive substances and seeking after them despite their harmful influence.
According to WHO (World Health Organisation), alcohol abuse is the third most often occurring factor responsible for the deterioration of health and premature death in EU member states.
Multiple studies clearly indicate that alcohol consumption and the number of addicted individuals in Europe increase year by year.
Studies conducted by the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System between the 1st of April, 2016, and the 31st of March, 2017, showed that in England alone there were nearly 595,000 people addicted to alcohol, while only 108,000 of the addicted individuals sought professional help.
Addiction has an enormous influence not only on the health and well-being of the addicted individuals, but also on the functioning of their families. The aforementioned studies have also shown that approximately 200,000 children remain under the care of alcohol-addicted parents.
Just how much alcohol is safe?
Studies conducted in 1992-2016 by Washington University, encompassing 195 countries, showed a direct correlation between alcohol consumption and the increased incidence of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
It was revealed that individuals who never consumed alcohol were significantly less likely to succumb to these illnesses. This stands in contradiction to current views that small doses of alcohol are healthy and have a positive influence on people.
Why is there a social acceptance of alcohol consumption, while non-drinkers are shunned?
Non-drinkers are a minority in modern society. No one is shocked by the sight of a person consuming alcohol at a party, while a non-drinking person is often the object of great surprise.
Non-drinkers are often perceived as boring and unable to relax. Someone who refrains from drinking in the company of others retains full control and clarity of thought. They will have no trouble to register and remember the alcohol-altered behaviour of other people present at the party or meeting. This could be a source of aversion to non-drinkers, since they possess the greatest self-control during that time.
Drinkers also find it harder to keep themselves entertained, as they claim that they cannot relax when in the company of someone sober. However, the derogatory attitude towards abstinence most often stems from a fear of humiliation – the behaviour of those who consume alcohol often gets out of control, is embarrassing and irresponsible.
How to decline alcohol?
Non-drinkers can often be faced with attempts to persuade them to drink alcohol that border on coercion. Utilising excuses such as “I don’t feel well today”, “I’m not in the mood” or “I take medication” is effective only in the short term because the next time the individual may confront such persuasions again. Then how can you effectively decline alcohol?
A good approach is to decline firmly without giving excess explanations. You can appeal to your values here, such as that you do not drink alcohol out of principle or you have taken such a decision and wish to remain faithful to it. When declining, you can also invoke reciprocity, e.g. “I respect that you want to drink, so respect my right not to do it.” A short and firm refusal such as “thank you, I don’t drink” can also be effective. In the event of further insistence, it can be useful to employ the broken record method, which is the continued repetition of the same message in answer to further persuasion attempts to drink.
When refusing is hard
If you have difficulties in refusing alcohol, it may be worth it to seek professional help regarding this matter. We teach effective alcohol refusal techniques to the patients in our clinic during therapy for alcohol-dependent individuals. As for people who are not addicted but wish to stop drinking out of concern for their own health, we encourage you to take part in assertiveness training or contact one of our qualified specialists.
If you choose to drink alcohol, be fully aware that it is a poison and that no amount of alcohol is harmless to your health. This is why you should strive to drink alcohol as rarely as possible in order to minimise the risk of succumbing to various diseases, particularly to cardiovascular illnesses and cancer. Furthermore, by giving up alcohol you decrease the risk of addiction, and so avoid an extremely serious and rapid disease.
However, if you feel that you cannot function without alcohol, seek professional help. Life without alcohol is possible, which can be attested by many of our patients who find peace, happiness and balance after undergoing therapy in our clinic and once again enjoy life without alcohol.
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