Personal alcohol-associated experiences in the United Kingdom: Soon after coming to the United Kingdom as a 15 year old boy with a Hindu upbringing I started with my first taste of alcohol by walking into a public house and asking for a whisky. This is because like countless generations of Indians including my own father we had admiration for the British, thinking that the British knew the most and the best and this was the reason that it had once colonised the world through its scientific and technological ingenuity that matched its imperialistic ambitions. As a 64 year old now, and having entered my second period of tetotaller abstinence from alcohol,and refelecting over these 7 years that alcohol is one of the greatest health and social evils that can insidiously afflict a human being and his society towards incapacitation. I have conducted a study of the effect of alcohol on myself as well as studied the pharmacology and toxicology of alcohol which I wish to describe in this blog as a warning to people and nations considering the development of their industries along the British/Western model that promotes alcoholism.
My first period of tetotalling started over 22 years ago (if my memory serves me correctly) when I realised that alcohol consumption was creating havoc with my marriage in addition to having caused me terrible incidents outside the home. Whilst at college, I got into arguments following a drinking session and got beaten up so badly that I ended up in St Stephens Hospital in Chelsea London and lucky to be alive. Whilst still single the court found me guilty of ‘being found drunk in a public place’ on two occasions. I sometimes wonder if I was fortunate that I did not kill someone driving whilst still under the influence of alcohol or its aftereffects on occasions or ended up in court for driving under the influence. But it was when during the early part of my marriage I caused a lot of problems for my wife from drinking alcohol that threatened our home that it finally dawned on me to give up alcohol drinking so that I wrote a note ‘ALCOHOL IS EVIL’ that I always carried with me in my wallet to constantly remind me about my new determination to stay away from habitual drinking. The pointless expenditure of money on alcohol was therefore the least of my considerations It badly affected my existence. During my years of abstinence I did occasionally have the odd drink when with a friend that I met socially so that I did not wish to appear anti-social to him; such is the social pressure to drink alcohol in the UK.
Then 8 months ago after I started working in a petrol station with an Off Licence Section selling alcohol and watched customers and colleagues purchases and talking about their love for certain beers and spirits, and with the cheap prices that were offered under Sale-Promotions, I was once again enticed into having the odd beer or cider every week thinking that I could still keep it with control. I liked the taste of only certain beers and ciders and reasoned that it was harmless fun that one could partake in especially because God had made available things like alcohol and tobacco for human enjoyment, relaxation and stress control. I did feel relaxation sometimes and even described my experience to a friend as ‘utter relaxation’ when drinking very low amounts of alcohol which did not lead to a state of drunkenness to make me physically and mentally wayward, so that I felt it may well be having a tranquilliser effect on me at this low level consumption. However, one can of beer or cider led to two, and three at a go which was still well under control especially since I drank only when all my essential jobs were done to deal with my boredom in the house. The turning point was when I say a multipack 24 cans of Strongbow cider being sold at Tesco supermarket for £12, and wanting to save money I persuaded my wife to let me buy it saying that that would last me through to Christmas 3 months away. It did not. Then I saw another multipack 24 cans of Fosters lager at Tesco for £14 which I also bought. I drank these 4-5 per cent drinks without any real enjoyable feeling of being drunk and a time came that I felt I must always have some beer or cider in the house for a drink now and then to relax me. They were invariable special price marketing purchases. When I saw a 1 litre bottle of Famous Grouse Whisky first displayed for £12 two weeks before Christmas and then at £14 (normal price £24+) I said to myself that I will treat myself over Christmas and told my wife that this bottle will last me several months. It did not. I drank it over a few days and it did give me the intermediate buzz of the feeling of getting drunk and I was still thinking that my drinking was under control. But then it spurred me on. I bought a 35 ml bottle of Bacardi also from Tesco at a knock down special price, and later a 35 ml bottle of Three Barrels Brandy from ASDA which was were also being sold very cheaply. The realisation had still not dawned on me that I was on the verge of becoming an alcoholic again as I bought another 75 cl bottle of Famous Grouse Whisky from Tesco two weeks ago to try and experience that intermediate buzz of getting drunk. The buzz was not there any more as I continued drinking and finished three-quarters of the bottle between 4.00 pm and 10.00 pm on 20 April 2013 to become totally inebriated and lost all control over myself in what I said and did. In other words I got drunk without the feeling of any enjoyment from the drinking this time. It was then my wife commented again that I had become a ‘Madua’, a Drunkard. I did not dismiss this comment this time as the next morning’s hangover saw me totally incapacitated with headache, queasy stomach. I took a paracetamol at 8 am and then just lay without being able to eat anything until 2 pm and then a proper lunch at 4 pm followed by a cup of tea and soft drink at 5.30 pm. It was not until 7 pm in the evening that I felt to be getting to a normal state of mind and body. What a waste of two days this was.
It was the final straw that enough was enough. I poured the rest of the bottle of whisky down the sink drain and reflected on alcoholism and its place in society. This blog is the result of a lifetime of experience of alcohol and its study as a Pharmacologist/Toxicologist. Alcohol was truly was a Health and Social Evil as I reflected over conversations I had with my wife and contacts the previous evening through my binge of drinking. I texted, my friend (GST, who has commented about this blog in the About Me Page), as follows:
I have decided to give up alcohol altogether now. I am going to find other ways of relaxing. Alcohol can easily get out of hand. It is very risky and dangerous quite apart from the hangover. Also people do not take alcoholics seriously because they become unreliable.
I spent the next 24 hours studying my old books on Pharmacology and Biochemistry to rationalise alcoholism for this blog.
Innocently following the British custom of social drinking or socialising through alcohol led to the development of my alcoholism so I know that the British did not know everything that was good and may have developed their public houses (Pubs) as a way of getting ordinary people hooked on alcohol to destroy their ability to reason and to extract their money at a great cost to their health and social lives. This was the reason for my first experience of alcoholism, whilst my relapse was solely the increasing ease, in recent decades, with which alcohol is presented to the public in the United Kingdom and the strategy of advertising and promotion adopted by the big players in the British Retail business. The following personal experience is noteworthy of a recent visit to Tesco supermarket for the weekly grocery shopping: I had gone past the two alcohol aisles pushing the trolley for my wife who took things off the shelf for the household needs and was well into the grocery areas when I was what was strategically placed multipack 20 cans of Stella Artois for only £12 round one corner. My eyes lit up and on the spur of the mad moment I lifted the pack and put it into the trolley pleased with myself and carried on moving forward up the aisle. But then I thought this can only lead to another binging session or two and over consumption, so by the time we had come back round the next aisle I put the multipack back on the rack. This is when I realised that many customers are inadvertently finding themselves with alcohol that they were not planning to consume just because the supermarkets were placing them for insidious and subliminal coercion and such practices must be regulated against.
I do not need to be tranquillised either so do not need small quantities of alcohol as a night cap after a day’s work. I have useful work to do in life. I used to smoke cigarettes but also gave that up as not needed for a good life for myself. Just the ease of availability and copying others led to these habits.
Can leaders of nations who consume alcohol even is small quantities be taken seriously by the electorate? My view is that the answer must be No. They must give up alcohol completely because it impairs judgement and co-ordination even in small quantities like a pint of beer or a shot of spirit. Gaddum’s Pharmacology (Seventh Edition) was a like a Dictionary to me as a student of Pharmacology and I still refer to its contents. It states on the action of alcohol on mental coherence:
Alcohol is an anaesthetic, a disinfectant, a protein-precipitant, a local irritant, and in discreet doses it may be regarded as a valuable minor tranquilliser……The effect of alcohol on the central nervous system (CNS) tends to overshadow the numerous actions of this drug on other tissues. The action of alcohol on the CNS is mainly inhibitory and the apparent excitatory action of this drug results from the depression of inhibitory systems in the higher centres of the brain. These higher centres normally exert an inhibitory influence enabling the organism to behave sensibly. When these centres are suppressed, the cruder instincts appear to be released and behaviour becomes spontaneous, more childlike and less critical. Human alcohol intoxication is commonly divided into four stages: (1) In the first stage, there is slight loss of efficiency, a dulled critical ability, and spinal reflexes are slow and weaker, but the subject feels pleased with himself. (2) In the second stage, the novice drinker loses all self control, the hardened drinker speaks and moves with exaggerated care. (3) In the third stage, the subject is unconscious with a flushed face, active sweat glands, red eyes and dilated pupils. (4) In the fourth stage, there is danger of death from paralysis of the respiratory and vasomotor centres in the medulla…..The mechanism of action of alcohol on cells in the CNS is obscure. It does seem to have a non-specific depressant action on the excitability of all neurones and this may be through a local anaesthetic action.
I can corroborate these statements from self examination during the consumption of alcohol through my life time and especially in the past few months when I made detailed notes of what I was uttering and writing whilst drinking. This is why I have turned over a new leaf today. Drinking does not liberate the truth out of us as may be commonly believed: we just utter without self-regulation. Alcohol consumption even in low doses disturbs ones awareness of one’s surroundings and events and therefore is not conducive to truth seeking. Thus, the utterances and writings through alcohol consumption is not an expression of truth. Truth is a synthesis of the many factors and considerations that surround an issue. Drinking even small quantities suppresses that balanced consideration. Frequently one regrets what one has uttered or written. That is why it must be given up by all leaders of nations. And it can be given up instantly because alcohol consumption does not have any cumulative effects on the brain’s ability to consider matters of importance as far as I have been able to tell from self-assessment. So my advice to all politicians is that whilst tempting to demonstrate that they are the ‘common man’ or man of the people to garner the ordinary person’s votes, they must stick to soft drinks if the public is to have confidence that their Party is serious about governing the nation in a sensible way: those displaying their love for alcohol are additionally bad role models for society.
At the society level alcohol consumption lowers the productivity of the individual in the workplace and in other aspects of life.
Genetic differences in tolerance of alcohol: The following passage from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acetaldehyde_dehydrogenase is noteworthy:
Some people of far-Eastern descent have a dominant mutation in their acetaldehyde dehydrogenase gene, making this enzyme less effective. A similar mutation is found in about 5-10% of blond-haired blue-eyed people of Northern European descent. In these people, acetaldehyde accumulates after drinking alcohol, leading to symptoms of acetaldehyde poisoning, including the characteristic flushing of the skin and increased heart and respiration rates. Other symptoms can include severe abdominal and urinary tract cramping, hot and cold flashes, profuse sweating, and profound malaise. Individuals with deficient acetaldehyde dehydrogenase activity are far less likely to become alcoholics, but seem to be at a greater risk of liver damage, alcohol-induced asthma, and contracting cancers of the oro-pharynx and esophagus due to acetaldehyde overexposure.
Alcohol is toxic drug, not an item of food: I have had some people say to me that they do not need to eat much else as long as they have their Guinness drink. It is therefore appropriate to consider the metabolic pathways for alcohol in the body to show that it is indeed a source of energy, but at what cost is the question. Alcohol is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and small intestine and 98 per cent of the absorbed alcohol is oxidised, primarily by alcohol dehydrogenase in the liver. Acetaldehyde is formed which is more toxic than alcohol and causes symptoms that is commonly known as hangover, in which there is severe headache and vomiting several hours of one has stopped ingestion alcohol. This awful side effect continues and wanes as acetaldehyde dehydrogenase enzymes catalyse its conversion into the harmless acetic acid (vinegar) which as acetyl Coenzyme A (CH3CHO + NAD+ +CoA = acetylCoA +NADH + H+) is metabolised to release energy by entering the Tricarboxylic (Citric Acid Cycle). At higher doses ethanol is also oxidised by the livers enzyme cytochrome P450IIE1 (CYP2E1), the MEOS system, according to CH3CH2OH + NADPH + O2 -> CH3CHO + NADP+ + H2O. Hence ethanol does become a source of energy that the body can utilise. It is not clear whether ethanol can however be described as a normal body metabolite in human beings. In any event alcohol must not be used as a dietary ingredient because of the heavy toxicological price that the body has to pay to receive such a small amount of energy.
Recovery from alcohol intoxication: There are two aspects, a short term one in which one is considering the recovery of one’s mental and physical faculties following a binge drinking session and the other recovery from chronic alcohol poisoning. Since all the alcohol that is not metabolised in the body is excreted from the kidneys into urine, in the sweat and through the lungs, recovery to full normal capacity of the body takes place as follows: recovery of sensible decision making after up to 6 hours by when the alcohol is all converted to acetaldehyde, and then up to a further 48 hours from the hangover symptoms of acetaldehyde poisoning (excessive flushing, headaches, palpitations, giddiness and nausea) as acetaldehyde is metabolised gradually and the gastric irritation problems subsides [in this regard, it is notable that alcoholism has been treated with the drug Disulphiram (Antabuse) which inhibits the oxidation of acetaldehyde to make the patient experience a severity of hangover symptoms so great that he will be put off from future alcohol abuse].
Whereas from one off binge drinking sessions one can make a complete recovery and have a clean fresh start to living a normal life as a teetotaller without any long term damage to the body (?), persistent long term ingestion of alcohol leads to chronic alcohol poisioning the effects of which are much more severe and possibly irreversible (?) leading to early death if I read Gaddum’s Pharmacology correctly:
The constant drinking of alcohol injures the CNS so that the drinker becomes careless, untidy, forgetful and irritable. At the same time he acquires a certain amount of tolerance so that large amounts of alcohol have no apparent effect on him. This is mainly due to a real insensitivity of the nervous system, and to the fact that the persistent drinker has much practice in concealing the effects of drink. As time goes on the drinker becomes more irritable and more anxious and may eventually develop delirium tremens. In this condition he is very restless and may suffer a variety of hallucinations. This condition may eventually lead to permanent mental disturbance or to death.
Chronic alcoholism has many ill effects some of which are due to associated factors such as vitamin deficiency. The stomach shows chronic gastritis; the kidneys show fatty changes and hypertrophy of connective tissue, and cirrhosis of the liver may occur. One of the most important effects is neuritis involving both sensory and motor nerves and causing loss of sensation in the skin and loss of power in the muscles. The neuritis is due to a deficiency of aneurine and can be cured by injection of this substance. The diet of chronic alcoholics is usually deficient in this vitamin and absorption is poor.
Christianity and the culture of alcohol consumption:UK’s state religion of Christianity must take its share of the blame for legitimising the consumption of alcohol through the ritual of the Eucharist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucharist.
Further reading on alcohol’s effects on the human body is given here: http://www.chemcases.com/alcohol/alc-06.htm
Health and Social Evil of Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol consumption is a selfish act that does not promote straight dealing between people and is not therefore conducive to socialising that creates a society in which people can trust and rely on each other inspite of their differences. The traditional British view that socialising can only effectively take place with alcohol in one hand and in the public house and party environment is a false recipe for society because the socialising that takes place is under the influence of alcohol people in which people lose control of their mental faculties and the exchanges in conversations become meaningless as the drinking progresses right from the first sips of alcohol. When people are drunk they behave haphazardly, talk nonsense with some gettin very aggressive. They are prone to be taken advantage of. Socialising between human beings should be free from such mind bending drugs so that people can really get to know each other. Alcohol marketing in the UK has much to answer for in the degeneration of society.
Marketing Restrictions on Availability of Alcohol to the General Public: The supermarkets in the United Kingdom are wreaking havoc on the social fabric of society through their marketing and promotion of alchohol to bring in the customers into their premises for shopping. On 22nd May, I heard two advertisements on the Radio Channel ‘Hearts’ (103 FM), one at 2.58 pm and the other at 17.58 pm from Tesco advertising Budweiser beer at certain low prices and on 23 May 2013 I spotted that Sainsburys had an advertisement at 8.32 pm on Channel 4 Television promoting ‘buy 6 or more bottles of wines and get 25 per cent off (?). I had previously seen wines at sale prices being displayed at a petrol station shop window. I felt that in light of my own knowledge of the adverse effects of alcohol on the body such advertising was outrageous and could not fathom the mentality of a government which would allow such practices on the promotional sales of alchohol to encourage consumption by the population. If advertisement is permitted the least that the government should impose is a Warning Label on them (verbal and written that ‘beers, wines, spirits and liqueurs are alcoholic intoxicants that damage your mental and physical health and impair your social skills’.
Because of the damage it does to human health and the high level of anti-social behaviour that it brings about in people my recommendation to governments is that alcohol should be classified as a restricted toxicological product that is sold only in special licensed shops located only in certain streets of towns and cities and public drinking houses where people wish to meet for alcohol-based socialising. Restuarants must only serve food. To prevent incidental purchases shops must sell nothing else other than alcohol so that only persons looking for these items visit the shops. This is because societal regulation must ensure that undue coercion is not applied to entice people shopping for other goods being drawn to purchasing alcoholic beverages. Since this is a radical idea, in the short term the government should prevent supermarkets from being able to display alcohol anywhere they like in their stores, restricting it to the farthest corner away from the eyes of the unsuspecting shopper who may be lured or caught by any promotional prices as they push their trolleys around the store looking for food items. Thus strategic placement of reduced price alcohol products must not be allowed to be displayed at other points through the rest of the store. Advertisement of alcohol in all forms must be strictly banned: if something is good for people in terms of meeting a real basic need without adverse side-effects, such as good food, exercise facilities, leisure pursuits like holidays, do it yourself home improvements,etc advertising serves a public information function and is good for society but when positively harmful substances are promoted through advertising (alcohol, tobacco for example) society must not allow this form of coercive pressures on the unsuspecting and vulnerable.
Additionally, shops that sell alcohol should all have a large signboard ‘Intoxicating Liquor Shop’, instead of the words ‘Off Licence’ along with a Warning that alcohol consumption is injurious to health and society. Further, all beers, ciders, wines, spirits and liqueur products should have the label, ‘Alcoholic Intoxicants’ to describe the contents along with the percentage alcohol by volume figures for the drink, followed by health warning of short term mental and physical incoordination, hangover, chronic toxicity from long term use, and teratogenicity to the unborn baby. The premises must display a signboard stating that beers, wines, spirits and liqueurs are alcoholic intoxicants that damage your mental and physical health and impair your social skills.
Conclusion: Drinking alcohol is the height of social irresponsibility because it impairs ones judgement to interact with one’s fellow human beings and work to optimal efficiency, to look after oneself and one’s family and fulfil ones role in society. So long as alcohol runs people’s lives they are unable to develop social skills and social cohesion is adversely affected. The UK has been dependent on immigration in large part due to alcohol reducing the capacity of people to live properly and devote themselves to pursposeful living. The effect is at all levels of society. It is a disease that is borne of a nanny state in which there is no concept of civic responsibility. The social fabric of life in UK centres around alcoholism so you get degenerate thinking and regulation of society.
It is not sufficient to restrict the sale of alcohol to people above the age of 18 years as is the law in the United Kingdom. Measures are needed to make it clear to the entire population that alcohol is not encouraged as a social norm and is an antisocial habit. The population must be informed that man and society should be free from alcohol dependency although it must not be banned as in Muslim countries so as to let those who really need to drink alcohol can find reliable supplies that have been scientifically prepared to prevent contaminants and adulterants in the market place in prescribed areas. But the innocent people, especially the young must be protected from the belief that alcohol is a beverage that assists the individual into a good and fruitful life in any shape or form or that it facilitates effective socialising in any positive way. If controls are not placed by law prohibiting discount pricing designed to increase the volume of alcohol sales along with the market restrictions that I have recommended in this blog I would beg to suggest that the government is guilty of wantonly and uncaringly poisoning its own people individually and collectively with alcohol.
24 May 2013 Update: Instead of alcohol I am drinking black coffee now and am enjoying the experience. I continue to drink tea liberally. These are really useful beverages to go with soft fruit drinks, coka cola and lemonade, are they not?
29 May 2013 Update: 9 days of not touching a drop of alcohol and I feel fine, I have not missed it one little bit. I have work to do, responsibilities. I am resolute because I know what the problem with alcohol is from my own experiences. People are looking for something to liven up their lives. Alchohol is not the answer to that need for what is missing for a life of fulfillment. In fact I feel somewhat angry with myself for having indulged in this mindless self-destructive activity again in my life. Thankfully I have come to my senses again: I suppose better late than never.
30 May 2013 Update: I was today asked by my friend GST: How are you feeling after knocking the drink on its head? I replied: I do not miss it at all after 10 days. That shows that drinking is just a mindless activity. If you drink you are losing control. I would like to be fully sober so that I can do things correctly in everything that I am engaged and involved in. I must not make mistakes of any kind. I therefore cannot afford to take even a sip of alcohol for my experience is that one begins to lose control of ones senses right from the first few sips.
Some might drinking alcohol for fun. Yes mindless fun, for living is a serious business that one has to get right. Alcohol makes that impossible.