In the latest episode of the new series of the Mad World podcast, marking Addiction Awareness Week, Camilla Tominey talks about how as a teetotaller she has to constantly justify why she doesn’t drink, as “boozing has become so established”.
Referencing the 1999 book Stop Drinking 4 life… Easily!, which invites readers to replace the idea of drinking alcohol with downing the same quantity of milk, Ms Tominey questions why no one seems to apply the same thinking to alcohol.
Telegraph readers have taken to the comments to discuss British drinking culture, sharing their personal experience of alcohol consumption, with some rejecting drinking alcohol altogether, while others expressed a ‘live and let live’ mentality.
What is your view on, as Ms Tominey puts it, “our addiction to alcohol”? Gauge your fellow readers’ thoughts and join the discussion in the comments section at the bottom of this article.
‘I value my marriage and family too much’
“I haven’t taken a drink for over ten years because I assume I have a serious problem with it, and value my marriage and family too much to gamble on controlling it.
“Nobody seems to care that I no longer drink and most of my friends still do, sometimes to excess. If I could join them safely, I would.
“Alcohol is a great friend to most people and alcoholics like myself should leave them to it.”
‘It’s a very British problem’
“I spent ten years living in Newcastle, the Geordie culture of heavy drinking is dire. Men and women out on a night to get excessively drunk is a real eyesore to see. It’s a very British problem. The Brits come to Europe and do the same.
“The Europeans drink slowly with snacks and tend to go out to enjoy company, not to get smashed. A world of difference.”
‘The alcohol is not my main driver’
“There is a tremendous range between the extremes of being a teetotaller and a boozer. For those who use it as an escape from the reality of life or those that succumb to addiction it is very sad.
“I can enjoy one or two glasses of wine per week with a meal or a glass of beer. The alcohol is not my main driver, it is the full-bodied taste of a red wine, the delicate back notes of a white or a hoppy bitter beer.”
‘Drinking should be a free choice, not a social obligation’
“The trouble with alcohol is that it is addictive. I lost all my uncles (four) to alcoholism, and they destroyed the lives of their families along the way.
“It is fine if someone can manage their alcohol, but sadly many can’t and that is why the pressure to drink is so pernicious. The ‘don’t preach’ comments are part of that culture where you feel pressured to drink – why shouldn’t a journalist point out the very real dangers of alcohol? Drinking should be a genuinely free choice, not a social obligation.
“That said, I’ve noticed many people in their twenties seem much less interested in alcohol than previous generations.”
‘Adults should be left to make their own decisions’
“Alcohol is legal, regulated and taxed (heavily) and so adults should be left to make their own decisions and not be preached at by teetotalers.
“We are all dead in the long-term, so if some people use alcohol as a release from the stress, strains and mundanity of life and to let their hair down, then so be it. If some people abuse it, then they will only end up killing themselves early anyway and save the state a fortune in retirement age benefits.”
‘It was the main focus of everyday life’
“I was a soldier for nine years. From the moment I started drinking to the day I stopped, it was the main focus of everyday life. As soon as the day’s duty was completed, the in-camp bars were open. Occasionally our alcoholic Battery Major, would stop work and open the in-camp bars. Not consuming alcohol relegated someone to ‘oddball’.
“In hindsight, and it applies to everyone, ‘no good, not one bit, came out of a bottle’. With the advantage of many years, I would advise anyone – students, soldiers, sailors, people in high-pressure employment, anyone in a situation which puts social pressure on drinking, to decline the excess drinking.
“I am not suggesting ‘sainthood’, but never let alcohol make decisions for you instead of your brain.”
‘I like a drink, but only in company’
“I like a drink, but only in company. I went through April, May and June last year without any alcohol or seeing any friends or family because of the restrictions. I didn’t miss the booze in the slightest, I missed the people.
“My regular Friday night in the pub is now history, but tomorrow lunchtime I’ll be meeting friends in a pub, and the same next week. It is still a habit but neither a fixture or an addiction.”
‘The problem isn’t booze, it’s addiction’
“Why do these debates have to leap from one extreme to another? Teetotal to over indulgence? Millions of people in the UK drink moderately with no harmful effects. Yes, we raise a glass or two at many family events, on social occasions, and with a meal, but we also spend the vast majority of our time stone-cold sober. We enjoy wine, real ale, and spirits without any of it rotting our brains.
“The problem isn’t booze, it’s addiction. If you have an addictive personality, or you don’t have that mental warning light that tells you ‘you’ve had enough’ then you’re at risk.
“But an addictive personality can get addicted to all kinds of things, including banging on about how everyone else should follow their lead and give up booze altogether.
“Live and let live. Cheers!”