According to figures released today by the NHS:
- 1 in 4 adults are drinking at hazardous levels,
- 1 in 10 men are on the verge of alcoholism,
- 1 in 6 women drink at levels sufficient to damage their liver or lead to depression,
- 1 in 10 men and 1 in 25 women are approaching alcohol dependence (admittedly rather vague terminology).
We have to ask ourselves why people in the UK seem to be developing more problems with alcohol, and what can be done about it. The cost to the health service alone is staggering – presently some £2.7 billion. That’s before we even consider the personal and social costs involved.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest causes of people drinking too much alcohol is as a way of coping with depression. The unfortunate thing is, that as a solution it’s probably the worst there is, because alcohol itself causes further depression.
It directly reduces the levels of Serotonin in the brain – this is the neurotransmitter that anti-depressant drugs like Prozac (an SSRI) increase your levels of.
Only when you cut down your drinking will you be able to feel any happier. But once you’ve cut down, how do you stop the cycle beginning again? You have to deal with your depression some other way…
Read this report from the Mental Health Foundation on the effects of Alcohol on Mental Health, it explains in more depth the link between alcohol and depression.
(if you don’t have Adobe Acrobat installed to read this pdf, get it from the Adobe Website)
Many people with an alcohol problem are drinking as a way of dealing with boredom. They’ve got nothing exciting or interesting to do, so they drink instead, and that keeps them entertained.
Watching TV for hours is boring and uninspiring, but if you have a drink then it becomes more tolerable.
So, is your life too dull? If you weren’t drinking so much, what would you be doing with your spare time instead?
If you have difficulty answering that question, then here’s the first problem you need to solve before you can move forward.