Thursday, February 28, 2013

More or Less

A new study has confirmed that British people "underreport" how much they drink by as much as 60%.

The study was conducted by University College London and they found that about 75% of both men and women are actually drinking substantially more than they report to the Health Survey for England.

Researchers started by comparing the number of drinks people admitted to having to the actual sales of alcohol. That's when they found the massive discrepancy. It's not certain whether people are fudging the truth because they're ashamed and feel they have to lie about their drinking - or simply because they're pouring larger drinks.

Whatever the case, fully half the population of Britain are binge drinkers, meaning men consume 8 drinks and women 6 in "one session." 'Session' being science-talk for 'paw-taaaay!'

(Get the English accent there?)

btw, I suspect British drinkers aren't the only ones who tell white lies about how much they drink - to their doctors and to themselves.  But I'm glad the information is coming out anyway. It's important for all of us to be aware of the effects of alcohol abuse on our lives. Heavy drinking can lead to real problems - not the least of which is dependence. And that's a nasty dragon to slay, as I know. Only cleansing has helped me stick with more moderate drinking amounts - and stay happy doing it.

(Moderate compared to the old days, anyway. ;)

Incidentally, the British Department of Health recommends no more than four drinks a day for men, three for women.  Which is pretty damn generous to begin with.

Read the whole article about Britain's 'secret boozers' here.  (That's The Independent's name for them, not mine.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Outside The Bottle

Yesterday - Tuesday - was a cleanse day for me.

Sometimes you think that not being able to drink on a given day is a rip-off or a sacrifice. Because if you have a 'problem,' you know the only time you're more depressed than when you're drinking ... is when you're not. And honestly, some cleanse days are like 'whatever, can't wait for tomorrow. so just be over.' (Though that's rare.)

But usually cleanse days are great. And yesterday, though nothing really special happened, I was in a productive, happy, even occasionally blissful mood. I felt healthy and balanced. Strong and centered. I didn't care that I wasn't going to drink yesterday. In fact, I kind of loved it. I really did.

I enjoy the difference cleanse days have from drinking days. It brings real variety to my life. Cleanse days keep you in touch with who you are, what you want, where you're going. When you drink every day - especially heavy drinking - you can start to lose yourself in the booze.

But cleansing teaches you how to find other things that bring joy and fulfillment to your life. Because drinking every day all year long is not an option for you anymore. So by necessity, you're forced to learn more about what makes you happy and go out and find it. I guess what cleansing really does is help you think outside the bottle.

And that's a lot better than being trapped by it.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Egg-Ceptions

So I come to you lightly toasted.

After an exhausting but exhilarating Sunday morning ballet class, the hubs and I had yummy scramby eggs and bacon for brunch. Which included a nice South African white pour moi. 

(Maybe it's been all the Pistorius coverage.)

Then the hubs had to scram - it's a busy weekend at work and he had to go into the office. I offered to clean up whilst listening to the Smiths on the hi-fi ... and finishing my vino bianco. In other words, I'm drinking by myself at home. An exception to the rules.

But that's one of my wildcards. When the hubs has to split for work reasons, I finish my wine alone.

It's a real luxury. I love it ... I really do. Is that sad? Or beautiful?

Do not drink and blog. ;)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

University Daze

New legislation in Washington State is getting some attention lately. If passed, House Bill 1404 will let minors get treated for alcohol poisoning or severe binge drinking without facing underage drinking charges. And friends who call 911 to report a severely intoxicated party pal will also be exempt from charges. The bill is aimed at reducing alcohol poisoning among underage kids.

As it stands, police say dangerous drinking isn't reported because minors are afraid to call an ambulance or the police in case they get charged with underage drinking. So more often than not, someone who passes out at a party is usually left to sleep it off. Or if 911 is called, witnesses usually am-scray before help arrives, meaning no one's around to answer questions that might help the injured party.

Local Mothers Against Drunk Driving advocates question the validity of the bill, saying it just gives kids permission to binge drink. But underage drinking is a reality we all have to face. 11% of all alcohol purchased in the U.S. is consumed by minors and 90% of that is binge drinking. In 2010 alone, there were 189,000 emergency room visits by severely intoxicated minors. It's a 'major' health hazard for them and officials hope the new bill will encourage kids to get help if they need it.

Considering the scope of underage drinking in schools today, I thought this essay from the archives of Cambridge University was a hilarious contrast. Probably not much bingeing on sherry going on in 1849.

Or was there? Check it out from The Guardian.

And here's more about underage drinking concerns from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Yikes!

I hate being the bearer of bad news. I'd much rather be happy-fun-healthy Ms. Functional. But I'm afraid I've got to play bad cop today.

A recent study funded by the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that between 3-4% of all cancer deaths are attributed to alcohol consumption.

Gulp.

Even moderate drinkers weren't necessarily safe. 30% of all alcohol-related cancer deaths involved people who consumed less than one and a half drinks a day.

The study was conducted by the Boston University Medical Center and researchers there say that the public should be aware that reducing alcohol intake is actually a form of cancer prevention.

So I'm drinking a glass of water right now. :)  

For masochists, here's more info about the study.

Have a fun weekend anyway! Remember, less is more!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy VD Cocktail!!

Happy Valentine's Day!!

I just love my Independence Days on the Plan. Independence Days being those special occasions when you don't have to take the two cleanse days a week. (I'm still recuperating from Christmas and New Year's btw. ;))  Occasions like birthdays and vacations and yes, Valentine's Day!

It really puts me in such a great mood. Just these little breaks from the plan - which, btw, isn't the most stringent 'quit drinking' program ever invented in the first place. In case you haven't noticed. ;)

But I'm serious. I'm kind of walking on air today. Looking forward to the festivities tonight. It just feels extra special because Thursdays are usually cleanse days for me. I really believe these little perks during the year are part of the reason the plan works so well for me. They make me feel 'normal.' They bring variety to my life. And they let me have fun when it seems like the rest of the world is having fun, too.

In honor of the occasion, I found a Valentine's cocktail that looks fun and yummy. It's a little ambitious for my talents which sort of run along the uncork/unscrew & pour line. But one can always dream!

So here's Mamrie Hart, a Brooklyn-based comic and writer who produces the You Deserve A Drink  channel on YouTube. Even if you don't actually mix up this festive concoction, a drink in one hand and a chocolate in the other should do the trick. Cuz she's pretty fun and yummy too!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Couple That Drinks Together

With Valentine's Day coming up this week, I want to talk about love. Love of each other - and love of drinking. Because it's interesting to note how the individual drinking levels of spouses can have a real impact on marriages.

A new study to be published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research in May suggests that first of all, heavy drinking is a big indicator of divorce - and always has been. Secondly, that divorced people drink more than married people. And thirdly, how the difference in drinking levels between spouses can doom a marriage from the start. For instance, if one person drinks much more than the other, this is an incompatible drinking pattern and the relationship is more likely to end in divorce - especially if it's the woman who drinks more.

On the other hand, if a couple has compatible or similar drinking levels (they both drink a little or a lot) they're more likely to stay hitched in the long run.

I can definitely see how drinking patterns have affected people I know over the years. Both of my parents drank - and I'm sure that contributed to their divorce. Not to mention the fights. I was too young to remember who drank more, but I do know this: they didn't really drink together. They had stopped being friends. They each began to find "fun" in other parts of their lives. Along with a lot of other marital issues - including several separations - the divorce was finalized when I was about six.

I sometimes see other couples - friends and acquaintances - who show different drinking habits and almost instinctively I know it's trouble. And it often is.

My husband doesn't drink a lot - thank God. He never really did. But for the first ten years of our relationship, I was drinking very heavily - and doing a lot of it in private, without his knowledge. It was an awful burden, for me, for us, for the relationship. I'm sure if I hadn't somehow gotten control of the situation, the D-word would've come up eventually. As much as my husband loved me, I'm not sure he could've put up with my habit forever. It was ruining both of our lives. But now that our drinking patterns are more similar - and I'm not that same out-of-control person anymore - our relationship is more balanced, more loving - and much more fun!

He's the biggest fan of how cleansing works - next to yours truly, of course. ;) ;)  He even offered to write the foreward for the e-book version of You've Got Another Drink Coming due out soon. I didn't ask for it and I didn't edit it when it was done - and the first few times I read it, I cried. I know how much cleansing has helped me, but it's amaaaaazing to know how much it's helped him, too.

So as Valentine's approaches and we run around for the candy, the flowers, the bubbly - and whatever else the holiday means to us - let's be grateful for all the love we have in our lives. Whether that's a spouse, a lover, a child, a parent, a friend, a puppy - or ourselves. Because that's where love has to start. And as corny as it sounds, I know one thing: I love myself a lot more now than before I started cleansing.

Here's more on that study about drinking similarity and divorce rates from Medical News Today.

And if you're looking for love, here's a recent newsletter from Dr. Wayne Dyer. It doesn't really have anything to do with drinking (except that Dr. Wayne quit himself many years ago after worrying that his beer habit was becoming a problem). But it does have to do with love. And whether we're between partners or just need a fresh way of seeing the one we have, the idea that loving feelings attract more loving feelings - and loving people - into our lives, is one that never goes out of style. Valentine's Day or not. Here it is, Dr. Wayne Dyer on happiness, love - and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

And for more serious love seekers,  Looking For Love: It's Not Where You Look, It's Who You Are also in this recent newsletter. Dr. Wayne's all about the love!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Carded!

So I'm in the liquor store on Friday picking up supplies for this wintry weekend ... and the man behind the cash asked for my I.D.

Seriously. "Are you kidding?" I asked.

"Sorry. The legal drinking age in Ontario is 19. I have to ask everyone who looks under 25 for I.D. And you look under 25."

I'm like, "Okay, man. You just made my day." Week/life. I ransacked my wallet but it's been so long since I've had to produce I.D. I couldn't find it. But the fella saw the state of my wallet - no self-respecting twenty-something would let her wallet get so messy - and he said he believed me. Out I skipped with my bags.

Couple things here. Obviously, I'm doing something right. I really think breaking up my exposure to alcohol is part of that. I'm looking at another 28-day cleanse less than two months away now. But I'm also looking at an extra drinking day this week - Valentine's Day. Because you don't have to take cleanse days on special occasions.

(Having said all of that, I also tried a new product that women - and men! - might be interested in. I'm not schilling - if I was, you'd be reading about 'Why Language Professors Hate Him' right now! - but it may have had something to do with the I.D. thing. It's crazy, but who knows? I've used the Philosophy Microdelivery Triple-Acid Brightening Peel twice now - and my skin really does feel nicer, smoother, softer. It's kind of beside the point, but I felt I had to share. As I said, both men and women could use this because it's an overnight treatment.)

But back to legal drinking ages. As I mentioned, here in Ontario it's 19. That's fairly young compared to America's 21 years. But a titch older than Britain's 18. In Switzerland and Portugal, it's legal to drink wine and beer at 16.

This is important because a new study by the Washington University School of Medicine linked higher binge-drinking rates later in life with lower legal drinking ages. Almost 40,000 people were tracked starting in the 1970s when the drinking age was 18 in some states. Follow-ups with these test subjects showed that men from states with lower drinking ages were more vulnerable to binge-drinking by 20-30%, depending on their education. Men who didn't go to college were 31% more likely to binge at least once a month.

Although the U.S. is not in the Top 10 Drinking Nations, binge drinking is still a major problem for American teens. They have the highest binge drinking rates in the world. 30% of U.S. teens - girls especially - report bingeing in the last month (five drinks for men, four for women, on one occasion, usually within two hours). This is a concern because binge drinking is more harmful than other alcohol intake patterns.

For instance, 7 drinks per week may not sound like a lot, but if you have them all in one sitting, it's much more dangerous than nursing a drink a day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classify 54 different diseases and injuries caused by binge drinking. The Center also reports that 90% of all drinking done by adolescents is bingeing. Since one quarter of the world's population are between the ages of 10 and 24, it's more important than ever for young people to become aware of the dangers of binging.

I know I started binging at an early age and I'm sure I did irreparable damage to my development both emotionally and physically because of it. I don't binge anymore, thank God, but it was a regular habit for me right up until my first long cleanse ten years ago. I'm just glad those days are over.

Learn more about binge drinking among teens here from DailyMail.co.uk.

More about worldwide minimum drinking ages from Albania to Zimbabwe here. Compliments of the International Center for Alcohol Policies.

And more about the general dangers of binge drinking from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Diet Drunk

Weight-conscious drinkers beware ... that Diet 7 & 7 (or whatever) you order at the club this weekend is actually going to make you drunker than the same booze mixed with regular  pop. 

A recent study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that people who had mixed drinks with sugar-free sodas experienced an 18% higher intoxication rate than people who mixed liquor with good old-fashioned sugar-sweetened pop. 

At the same time, there was not a perceived awareness of being more drunk. Which means a person who's had a couple drinks with diet sodas is more likely to do something stupid, like get behind the wheel of a car. Swerve over the yellow line. Get pulled over by a cop. Tell the cop, "Sorry, S'officer, I only had (hic) two drinks ... honest (hic.)" Which means they're more likely to end up with a DUI charge. Or worse. 

This all makes sense. Sugar is food (albeit not the healthiest). But it does have calories and carbs and the body recognizes it as food. Since food slows down the absorption of alcohol, the body digests the booze more slowly too.  But diet drinks contain ... well ... lots of things nobody can pronounce without a chemistry degree. What they don't have are calories and carbs. Meaning, both liquor and soda pass very quickly through the stomach into the small intestine, resulting in a faster, higher spike in blood alcohol content.

So keep in mind -- you might look great in those super-tight sparkly leather jeans this weekend ... but if you're ordering diet pop with your drinks to fit into them ... get a friend to drive. 

Or a cabbie. 

Or the washroom attendant. 

Or just about anyone, actually. Provided they can walk a straight line and don't appear to have a police record. It also helps if they own a car.  


Source article @ CBCNews.ca

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Leary about Leary

There was a photo in the New York Times on Sunday of an attractive blonde woman in a big beautiful bed, tapping away on her laptop with her adorable dog lounging beside her. Looked like a pretty charmed life to me.

Turns out the woman is Ann Leary - the novelist and wife of actor, Denis Leary.

Mr. Leary immediately makes me think of drinking because of his long-running series Rescue Me where his character Tommy Gavin fights addiction to the demon drink almost non-stop.  Rehab didn't work. The 12 Steps didn't work (all the time). Even his teenage daughter follows suit and ends up in A.A. herself. Though not before Tommy nearly drowns her in a baptismal font full of booze to try to get her to lose the taste for it. Now that's tough love.

I always thought alcoholism played such a big part in the show because it was based on the New York City Fire Department, bringing to light the problem of substance abuse in the wake of 9/11. (In the years following the attack - which killed 343 FDNY members - more than 1 in 10 firefighters were at serious risk of alcohol dependency and 17% were in the 'moderate risk' category. Though 71% showed no risk at all.)

But maybe the true muse is much closer to home. Because Mr. Leary's wife admitted to being an alcoholic herself. In the Times article, the 50-year-old said she has not had a drink in 6 years. Since there was no mention of  A.A. or other treatment programs, it seemed Ms. Leary quit on her own (as 70% of problem drinkers do).

But I was struck with her tone when it came to drinking. Some days she'd finish a bottle and a half of wine by herself and have a riot doing it, she said. Drinking alone can really be fun when you're addicted. In fact, it's probably your only fun since there's nobody around to nag you about being drunk. So she admitted to missing it very much.

But Ms. Leary also said that she was a very mean drunk and that the morning after a bender, everybody would be angry at her. Naturally, she had no memory of what had happened the night before and this is what finally forced her to quit. She said she's certain that if she didn't suffer from bad blackouts, she'd still be drinking.

(Vicious blackout drunks were why I had to get a handle on my drinking too. Only I didn't go the permanent abstinence route, instead handling the problem with regular cleansing. I believe this works because it reverses the depression caused by non-stop alcohol use. Because when you're addicted, you're always depressed. And drinking - the one thing that eased the blues in the old days - only makes depression worse. At that point drinking is a lose-lose situation. In fact, everything in life feels that way. I'm so glad those days are behind me!!!)

I talked to the hubs about the article last night. Being a fan of Mr. Leary - and with our own alcohol troubles - I thought he'd be interested. I mentioned that Ann Leary commented on the fact she really missed drinking a lot. And this is what he said:

"Sounds like an A.W.T.H."

"A what?"

"An accident waiting to happen."

"Oooooh." Who knows? Those damn pleasure receptors that love alcohol so much don't actually go away when you quit drinking. Which is, of course, why Ms. Leary still misses it so much.

(btw, I picture those pleasure receptors as constantly hungry, angry little birds with pointy beaks, wiry necks and mangy feathers, always lifting their empty mouths to the sky, crying, crying, crying to be fed ... which is why I continue to feed the bastards. So my pleasure receptors are actually happy, fluffy, fat little yellow chicks like the kind you see on Easter cards.)

Anyway, Ms. Leary has just published her third book, The Good House, a novel about an alcoholic real estate agent who loves drinking alone. They say write about what you know, right? The book's already hit the New York Times bestseller list and I'm looking forward to picking it up. For more info, here's the original Sunday Times article.

And here's Denis Leary ranting about alcohol, drugs and rehab. btw, this clip comes with a super-strong-unbelievably-coarse-but-pretty-hilarious-anyway-language-warning. ;)



And if you're not into Denis Leary F-bombing, here's 7 YouTube minutes of a cute farm boy unloading a box of fluffy yellow chicks. :) 




For more information about the stresses faced by New York's heroic firefighters, here's the source article about the FDNY and alcohol abuse.