We’ve all had days (or months) at work that we’d rather forget. Some like to relieve their work stresses by sweating it out at the gym, busting out the Xbox or smacking a squash ball into a wall. Some like a drink or three to help them unwind. Of course, this is nothing new. For many generations, drinking alcohol has been a popular way to draw a line under your day of hard slog and slip into a slightly blurry, more relaxed close. We get it – sometimes there’s nothing better than a cleansing ale or a tinkling G&T, and what’s a juicy steak without a large goblet of peppery shiraz?
We gleefully prick our ears up when the benefits of alcohol are being discussed…red wine has antioxidants, lowers your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, yes! “Pour me another one, mate.” But when you’re guzzling down more than a couple in one sitting, you’re negating all that good stuff. And in fact, you could be harming your health, big time.
Last year, the National University of Singapore (NUS) studied over 13,000 drinkers and found some probably unsurprising findings. The NUS researchers defined “heavy drinking” as the consumption of five or more drinks in a day for men and four or more drinks for women.
So what did they find?
1. Men were more likely to drink heavily than women.
2. Younger people were more likely to drink heavily than older folk.
3. Malays were less likely to drink heavily than Singapore’s other ethnic groups, and those grouped by the ethnicity of “others” were most likely to drink heavily (around seven times more heavily than those of Chinese origin, for example).
4. Single people were more likely to drink heavily than married or widowed people, and those who were separated or divorced drank even more.
5. People with higher incomes were more likely to drink heavily.
6. People with a higher education status were more likely to drink heavily.
Just give it to me in a nutshell
Okay. The heaviest drinkers in Singapore are most likely to be cashed up, single, educated white blokes.
Unfortunately, the study also showed that the heaviest drinkers were much more likely to be smokers, to suffer from major depression and have problems with chronic pain and other mental health issues like anxiety. Happily, heavy drinkers without mental health issues didn’t show a drop in quality of life or a rise in sickies taken.
I’m not convinced
OK, here are a few other downers about heavy drinking.
1. It’s expensive
With Singapore’s sky-high taxes on alcohol, imagine the money you could save without those few beers or bottle of pinot grigio each night? Let’s make a conservative guesstimate. You buy five, “just okay” bottles of plonk at $35/bottle per week. Over a year you’ve just spent over $9,000. If, like most people, you like going out for a drink, then it’ll be a whole lot more than that. Sobering thought?
2. You’re less productive, less nice and a lot more smelly
You can’t perform at your best in any arena of your life with badgers setting up tents in your head the next day, and you’re not a joy to be around either.
3. It can lead to bad decisions
These can be small bad decisions – like drink-dialling your ex, losing $200 on a bet or getting caught skinny-dipping in your mate’s condo pool. There are also big bad decisions – like deciding to drive, getting into a proper fight or going home with someone you shouldn’t.
4. It makes you look bad
We mean this literally. Drinking makes you look older. You don’t sleep very well – hello, “more bags than Heathrow”. Heavy drinking inflames and dehydrates your skin and leads to premature wrinkles. It’ll make you fat, too. A single pint has 180 calories, about the same as a large slice of pizza.
5. Sex Sex Sex!
Made you look. Alcoholism can cause permanent nerve damage and also a change in hormone balance, both causing impotence. Are you listening yet, Drew Peacock?
6. It can get a bit boring
I’m sure your mates all loved hearing about the time you streaked at the MCG or snuck into the Spice Girls tour bus dressed like Scary, but do they still love it 12th time round? Honestly, you’re not as funny as you think you are when you’re pissed. End of.