Why do you drink alcohol? Is it because it’s delicious, sociable and helps you to relax? Then it’s probably all good, assuming that your unwinding process isn’t lasting well into the night each and every night. If it’s because you don’t want Ed from accounts to think less of you? Then there might be a problem.
According to a new YouGov survey undertaken on behalf of independent charity Drinkaware, 47% of men aged 35 to 75 drink alcohol in order to fit in, be liked, or not be left out. For comparison, 36% of women in the same age group said they drank for the same reasons.
More worrying still is that the research revealed that 49% of men who drink due to social pressure do so at harmful levels, based on the World Health Organisation AUDIT measure which assesses alcohol consumption, drinking behaviours and alcohol-related problems. You can take the ten-question test yourself (PDF).
“These men are drinking in a way that could significantly impact their health simply because they feel pressured to do so,” says Drinkaware’s Ben Butler.
“They may be part of a group of friends or colleagues that express disapproval if someone doesn’t keep up with rounds or decides not to have a drink. This behaviour can put enormous pressure on people, who worry that their friendship or work friendships will be affected. In turn, this can negatively impact their wellbeing and mental health.”
Asking yourself why you drink is a useful exercise to do once in a while, just to keep tabs on your relationship with alcohol. There are plenty of good reasons to indulge in a drink or two, but if you’re knocking back the pints purely due to social pressure, it’s worth re-evaluating your alcohol intake.
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If you’re concerned about your drinking, whatever the reasons behind it, it’s worth checking out the Drinkaware DrinkCompare calculator. This not only shows how your drinking compares with the rest of the UK, but also shows you the positive effect having one, two or three fewer drinks a session could have. If you’d like to lose weight you may be surprised how drastically you could cut your calorie intake with a small change.
With the festive season approaching, there’s no better time to check in on your drinking habits. And stop raising eyebrows at James from sales when he asks for a lime and soda on your round – he’s just saved you a fiver.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.