Regular readers will know that I enjoy a glass of wine. The wine industry is fascinating as is the history. After a trip to Italy last year this has only grown. Especially when one sees how cultures are able to incorporate wine into what they do rather than going out drinking for its own sake.
Others enjoy a beer or spirit. Excess alcohol consumption leads to numerous health problems for the individual and often to those around them. That excess is a problem does not mean that moderate consumption is. We need food to survive but excess consumption leads to problems. Obviously, alcohol is not essential for life.
Many things that we enjoy are not “essential” for survival. This includes having a car or smart phone. Essential and useful or enjoyable are not synonyms. And not every single thing we do has to be looked through the reductionist prism of whether it is “healthy” or not.
Relaxation, fun and relationships are pillars of health and a glass of your favourite beverage can be a part of this.
Big public health likes to bleat about the harms of alcohol. In particular whenever there is violence and one punch assaults alcohol is blamed. Those who remember the 1970’s will recall there were no one punch assaults. Why? Because a drunk generally doesn’t hit that hard and is uncoordinated. A drunk taking a swing is equally as likely to miss as to hit. For those in doubt, I am not saying that some people are not violent when drunk or that this is not a problem. However, the undisclosed problem today driving violence in nightlife areas is methamphetamine not alcohol. This is the change from the 70’s and 80’s.
Overall in Australia, alcohol consumption is in long term decline. People are drinking less but consuming better quality. Somewhere in the next 50 years we may catch up to where Europe is today with its approach to this.
There is no shortage of studies looking at alcohol. Virtually all are observational with no cause and effect shown. Those with a “positive” finding disappear quickly. Negative findings are promoted.
Periodically the wowsers trumpet a study claiming there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. One hundred years ago the temperance league described alcohol as a demon and a sin. In our more secular age the sin is not against god but against “health and safety” which is one of our modern day religions.
Thus, those who constantly rail against alcohol consumption at any level have a moral rather than health agenda. This is never declared and may even be subconscious in some cases.
Studies which trumpet the dangers of any level of consumption never show cause and effect. They do not allow for the positive effects on wellbeing. Neither is “safe” ever defined. Yet those who for their own reasons are prohibitionist always publicise these (usually taxpayer funded) studies in an attempt to scare people.
As usual those who drink to excess will not care and those who drink “responsibly” may worry needlessly. There is no case to be made for drinking for the health benefits. Those who do not like alcohol should not be taking it up. Equally there is no reason for those who enjoy a drink or two to stop because of “danger”. This notion of no safe level is rubbish.
With the festive season upon us, for those so inclined there is no reason not to enjoy yourself whilst not going “stupid”.
The temperance league of the early 20th century has relocated from the church to public health.
Dr Joe Kosterich is a Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, who wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications and is also a regular on radio and television. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases and is an advisor to Reed Medical Conferences.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma and is Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association.