alcohol articles

TL; DR: 3 TIMES more people seek care for alcoholic parents in 2018 vs. 2013

The headline says it all. This was sad news out of the UK this week with regard to the level of drinking among older adults.

At first this might seem counterintuitive - after all, who drinks more than those who’ve just discovered drinking and are too young to get hungover?

However, it could be something to do with the lack of natural barriers you have when you’re young vs. when you’re older. Perhaps you retire, so you suddenly have excess free time. You don’t have as many obligations at home with young children.

It could also be due to boredom or loneliness, due to having less creative and social stimulation than in the past.

You can read more in the story from the BBC, but here’s what we got from it:

  1. Out of all those who develop alcohol use disorders, one in three have it happen after the age of 50, according to one UK charity.

  2. Although it’s a different experience than growing up with an alcohol-abusing parent from the beginning, it’s still psychologically damaging to adult children to have to help a parent cope.

  3. In general, children of parents who abuse alcohol are more likely to do so themselves.

If you’ve decided to cut back or quit drinking, we’d love to help. We offer tracking, insights, motivational exercises, and a support group to help you stick with it!

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UK says no more drunk flight passengers

If alcohol just makes you have fun, be free, be yourself, be sexy, etc, why on earth aren’t we all drunk all the time?

Well, one reason is alcohol-fueled violence. If you’re angry, alcohol removes the inhibitions that might otherwise prevent a violent outburst, and makes it much easier to end up in a fight.

Many drinkers are used to drinking when they travel as a way to pass the time in boring airports or in overcrowded planes. Apparently, there have been enough instances of drunk and disorderly airplane passengers that the UK, famous for its wild New Years photos, is taking action. In fact, in 2017 there was a 50% increase over the previous year in passengers being held for their drunken conduct!

This article says, in brief:

  1. All duty free shops will seal alcohol purchases in the UK from now on, so they can’t be opened during the flight

  2. Gatwick airport has ended shots in its bars

Of course, none of this stops you from ordering drinks on board, or smuggling small bottles of alcohol in your luggage (there’s always a way, if you really want to get drunk), but it’s an encouraging sign that the duty free stores and airports want to help airlines avoid these kinds of incidents.

If you’ve had an embarrassing outburst or two (we certainly did, when we drank, although not on board any planes), consider quitting or cutting back. If you do, we’d love to help! Drinker’s Helper is an app to help people moderate their drinking or quit drinking entirely. Check it out today!

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Why people around the world drink

We’ve written before about the reasons people drink (per a previous post, relaxation was the top cited reason in our survey).

But what fascinated us in reading this article about drinking around the world is that the reasons can be quite different.

Here are some of the different reasons for drinking we saw in this article:

  • Rural vs. urban: In the US, big cities like New York and LA have the highest rates of drinking, whereas in Lithuania, it’s the rural areas where people have too little to do where they struggle.

  • Men vs. women: Ukraine has a macho drinking culture for young men, whereas India has a rise in whiskey consumption among old women.

  • Work vs. unemployment: South Korea is known for a work-related drinking culture for team-building, but it’s Lithuana’s unemployed who drink the heaviest.

  • Wealth vs. poverty: South Africa is one of the top drinking countries in Africa, supposedly because of its relative wealth. But the poorer ex-Soviet countries in Europe are heavier drinkers than the wealthy ones.

In short, the takeaway for us at reading this article was: there’s always, always, always an excuse to drink.

If you’re done making excuses, and ready to quit or cut back, try Drinker’s Helper today! We help people quit drinking (or cut back on drinking) via tracking, insights, exercises, and support groups.

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Why people drink

Ok, there are obvious reasons. Alcohol is addictive; it’s ingrained in our society as part of every social occasion; it’s mixed into delicious fruity cocktails and it makes us feel free to act like idiots and forget our problems for a while.

But while we knew why we drank, we wanted to learn more about others.

We surveyed people on Facebook and Reddit who had quit or cut back on drinking to understand both their reasons for drinking and the things they did that helped them quit or cut back. This is all qualitative, as we only have 30 responses to work with, but it’s still helpful to get a rough sense!

Here’s what we learned about why people drink from our survey:

  1. The most common reason to drink was to relax (84% of people), but it’s not necessarily because people were feeling anxious. Only 60% of people said that feeling anxious was a trigger for them. What makes up the gap? One theory we have is that alcohol becomes a part of our routines when we relax. It’s the end of the workday, and out comes the cabernet. We feel like we deserve the reward, but it’s not necessarily because we’re feeling worried. This is supported by finding that 80% of people said they felt a desire to drink on certain days of the week, like Fridays and weekends. It’s a habit, and it has to be broken to quit successfully.

  2. More so than any feeling, social situations (sporting events - 68%, parties - 76% and hangouts with friends - 84%) propelled people to want to drink. This is true despite the fact that only 50% said they drank to socialize more easily, and only 36% said they drank to fit in socially. Maybe this goes back to the routines idea: we drink because it’s what we do with friends, or with acquaintances. It’s expected; it’s part of the routine. How do you celebrate without a drink?

  3. A good amount of people drink because they want to feel happier. This is the least surprising finding, but perhaps the most actionable. 60% said they drank to feel happy or giddy, and 60% said they drank to feel less inhibited. 64% sad they drank due to feeling sad; 60% said they drank due to feeling anxious. Here’s the takeaway for us: it sounds like people don’t want to be adults all the time. There aren’t enough chances in normal adult life to do something silly, or feel free. Alcohol, unfortunately, fills that gap, for some. Quitting or cutting back may require finding new outlets for childlike play.

As we discovered ourselves when we tracked our drinking and the circumstances surrounding it in Drinker’s Helper, sometimes your reasons for drinking may surprise even you. You may think you drink because of crippling anxiety but discover you actually do it as a way to celebrate when you’re not anxious. It’s all part of the benefit you can get from tracking your drinking with insights in Drinker’s Helper.

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Under the influence of alcohol influencers?

A handful of alcohol companies have gotten in trouble recently for breaking rules regarding the use of influencers to promote their brands. Some brands worked with influencers younger than 25 (apparently, there are rules against this, so that alcohol doesn’t seem cool to teenagers); Diageo had some influencers promoting their brand who failed to tell people they were getting paid to do so.

It’s a common advertising tactic, and when it’s transparent and authentic, it can be quite effective. But as a consumer, it’s important to know that some influencers are paid to promote certain brands so that you can decide if you give weight to a celebrity’s endorsement or not.

Here are some good things to know about when and how alcohol brands are getting promoted to you on social media.

  1. There are many different angles a promotional post can take.There are a few types of alcohol influencers on the rise: celebrities, comedians/actors (people who can make a funny video, which makes that brand seem more appealing) cocktail mixologists (who generate recipes that use certain brands), and founders (influencers who own their own alcohol brands and either started a new social media presence for the brand or already had a strong one).

  2. It’s not just the big brand names working with celebrities anymore. In fact, there may be a better logical match between micro-influencers and smaller breweries and distilleries. These posts can come off as more authentic when the brand being promoted is new, unique, or unheard of.

  3. It’s supposed to be disclosed. Influencers are, both by FTC ruling and Instagram policy, required to disclose their partnerships with companies to people. Instagram offers a “paid partnership” tag; the FTC appears satisfied when influencers put #ad in their post text. But either way, you should be able to tell looking at a post if someone has been paid to promote a particular brand of beer, wine vodka, etc. or not! After all, some posts aren’t paid for at all.

  4. Alcohol companies often provide specific guidance about what the post should look like. This is so each post they pay for has a certain on-brand look and feel. Malibu or Corona might make sense on a beach; champagne at a glamorous party. When you see one of these ads (because they are, in fact, ads), try to guess what associations the brand wants you to have with that drink. That way, you can be more aware of those messages and decide which ones you want to believe

Keep an eye out for what influencers are saying about alcohol, and if you’ve decided to quit or cut back, as always, please give Drinker’s Helper a try! We provide tracking, insights, exercises and personalized support groups to help people quit or cut back on drinking.

A new surprising risk factor for drinking problems

We all have our own ideas as to what might make some people more likely to develop an alcohol addiction.

Some of it is genetic, for sure; some of it may be drinking because of anxiety or boredom that becomes overwhelming.

But one study found that, surprisingly, perfectionism is a character trait that is correlated with drinking problems.

Here’s the full story, but the TL;DR is:

  • When you’re a perfectionist, you want to be SEEN as perfect, so sometimes, you drink to cover up imperfections

  • When you’re a perfectionist, you want to BE perfect, so sometimes, you drink to cope with having made mistakes any normal person would make

Read up, and if you’re interested in quitting or cutting back on drinking, download the app here!

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New research on alcohol and the heart

Many studies purport to show some kind of health benefit from drinking (usually red wine) in small amounts. These studies often fail to account for differences in income that might actually cause the health benefits (moderate drinkers may be better off than those who don’t drink).

However, more and more studies are showing that drinking generally causes harm. Many delicious things do (bacon, sugary foods, you name it), but it’s good to know what kind of harm alcohol can cause, even in (relatively) moderate amounts.

See here for the details, but the TL; DR is:

  1. Alcohol disrupts electrical signals in your heart

  2. It does so by causing scarring

  3. The signal disruption means that it can cause an irregular heartbeat

  4. An irregular heartbeat raises the risk of heart attack or stroke

If you’re thinking of quitting or cutting back, let us help you! Download Drinker’s Helper here.