Alcohol, health and windswept islands

Alcohol has been on my mind a lot recently. Perhaps it’s the New Year and the media coverage around ‘dry’ January, but I’ve also just read Amy Liptrot’s wonderful book The Outrun which like H is for Hawk combines a story of recovery with a story about nature. In this case it’s the story of Amy’s recovery from alcoholism in her early 30s, via an addiction clinic in east London and returning home to her native Orkney for two years. Aside from making you want to visit strange, beautiful, desolate, windy Orkney it also makes you think about addictions.

Then there’s been the co-ordinated campaign to reduce levels of drinking in the UK that has taken the form of updating the guidance for the amount we should drink. It hasn’t gone down incredibly well because the evidence around exactly what level of alcohol is ‘safe’ is patchy to say the best. Michael Moseley talks through some of the issues here as well. While setting guidelines is part of the equation it’s not the only thing that will change behaviour.

There are some signs that younger people today have a much healthier relationship with alcohol than my generation did in our 20s. But alcohol is one of the three biggest behaviour related causes of death in the UK (the other two being smoking and obesity, predominantly through diabetes) so is an important social issue. One thing we’ve done at BGV is funded Club Soda and they’re doing some amazing things using behavioural science. It’s not just about quitting but also helping you cut down a bit or stick if that’s what you’re looking for. They have a great online community and also run a lot of events which you can find here.