HEALTHY DISCUSSION –
Jan. 1, 2022 – Shockingly, ONS statistics report that it was also responsible for almost 9,000 UK deaths in 2020 alone. So why is it still so heavily ingrained in everything we do?
From our social lives to university and into our professional careers, alcohol isn’t just something we place on the fun pedestal – it’s woven into our everyday fabric.
Speaking exclusively to Metro.co.uk, Professor David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, explains why it’s so difficult for us to change our attitudes when it comes to alcohol.
‘Many centuries of use, especially by the church, and the fact that pubs are often at the heart of many local communities, are both key to our acceptance of alcohol as a cultural and social norm,’ he says. ‘Lobbying by the drinks industry has also played a role, leading to relatively lower taxation than previously, so the real price of alcohol is almost a third of what it was in the 1950s, making it easily accessible.’
In his award-winning book, Drugs Without the Hot Air, Professor Nutt makes the case that alcohol is indeed the most dangerous drug at our disposal – regardless of its legal and socially acceptable status. ‘To put the danger of alcohol into perspective, it is one of the only drugs that can kill you if you stop taking it abruptly while physically dependent,’ he says. ‘Making it incredibly difficult to quit without specialist support.’
While not everybody who drinks becomes dependent or addicted, the figures are frighteningly high (Professor Nutt told Metro.co.uk that around 10-15% of drinkers will become dependent).
However, there are other problems that arise through alcohol consumption too. Alcohol Change UK’s website quotes ONS figures that show alcohol is a factor in around 39% of all violent crimes in England and 49% in Wales.
It was after a bad experience with alcohol as a 17-year-old on the LGBTQ+ scene, that made Sam Thomas decide booze wasn’t for him.
‘I remember getting very drunk very easily and being followed to the toilet,’ he recalls. ‘Thankfully, I’d locked the cubicle door and after a brief exchange, I’d managed to get away.’