Stop boozing after four drinks? The public health people just don’t want us to have fun

Nothing better sums up the out-of-touchness of public health prigs than the debate about so-called binge drinking. To these teetotal, ciggie-dodging suits, for whom fun is the foulest of f-words, and who are such miserabilists that they’re made sad by the idea of happy hour, anything more than four units of booze a day for a bloke, and three for a lady, counts as binging.

Four units is two pints of weak lager. Three units is a large glass of wine. Are these people for real? That’s lunch for many of us. On party nights most of us have more than that before we even don our glad rags and leave the house. Consider it pre-drunkenness, in anticipation of actual drunkenness, which is often followed by blind drunkenness. If it’s a binge to have a couple of weak pints of beer then, hell, I’ve already binged today. (I’m writing this in a bar in Dublin, where two pints is an appetiser, not a binge).

Now the Telegraph reports that the public health weirdos are worried, quite rightly, that anyone who doesn’t live in a nunnery or follow the cult of Alcoholics Anonymous (ie pretty much everyone) might consider it a tad rash to describe necking more than a couple of beers a day as a binge. So they’re updating their guidance. They’re now thinking of scrapping the units talk and telling us we shouldn’t have more than four drinks on any one occasion. Jesus wept. Four units, four drinks — who cares? It’s all so unrealistic, and so buzz-killingly dispiriting.

According to the Telegraph, alcohol researchers found that the current four-units advice seems ‘unrealistic’ to many people — people who are normal — and ‘out of kilter with modern lifestyles’. So government officials are considering new proposals to adopt the Aussie system instead, which involves hectoring folks to have a ‘maximum limit of four drinks on any occasion’.

Guys. Come on. What kind of circles must these people move in to consider it acceptable to tell us we should stop boozing after four drinks? Remind me never to go out with anyone from public health. ‘Hey everyone, it’s 10pm, we’ve had our four Stellas, let’s order an Uber.’ For many of us that’s when the night kicks in: when the blood, fuelled by booze, starts pumping; the banter flows more freely; the jokes become sharper (this doesn’t last long); and you feel you could do anything, maybe even gab with that man/woman you’ve been eyeing up. To nip the night in the bud after four pints is the boozing equivalent of coitus interruptus.

Inebriation interruptus — that’s the true aim of the binge-panic lobby. They just don’t like the idea of a throng of woozy humans laughing, bantering and occasionally puking their way through the public houses and streets of Britain on a Friday, Saturday or any other night. They don’t want us to get hammered. But they recognise that they can’t simply say ‘Don’t get drunk’ — at least not without exposing the priestly killjoyism that lurks behind their health-concerned veneer — and so instead they redefine drunkenness as ‘binging’. They’ve pathologised being pissed. They’ve turned something perfectly normal and fun — drinking so much you get giddy and unstable — into something medically bad, a case of scary overindulgence.

We shouldn’t let them manhandle language in this way, or redefine drunkenness according to their own narrow, unworldly morality. What they call ‘binging’ the rest of us call ‘a night out’; what they refer to as a ‘maximum limit’ of booze (four drinks) some of us call ‘getting started’. They’ve already banned smoking, demonised sugar, spread panic about corpulent kids being killed by chips, and treated salt, every dish’s silver lining, as Public Enemy No 1 — we can’t also let them get away with redefining the glory of being plastered as some kind of disorder. They say ‘binge-drinking’; we say ‘drinking’.

The Telegraph says Dame Sally Davies, England’s chief medical officer, has seen the latest ‘binge-drinking’ research and has added it to officialdom’s ongoing discussion of booze guidelines, which will be submitted for public consultation later this year. Blimey, it’s all like a metaphor for the oligarchical aloofness of the new political class: it spends months and months discussing in sober, excruciating detail how many units of booze the public should be advised to drink, while the rest of us, the actual public, just gets on with drinking, and with life. Seriously, public health people, chill out. Have a drink. Or five.

  • James Pickett

    Wasn’t the original ’21 units per week’ figure plucked out of the air, anyway? If I’m going to be limited to 4 drinks at a time, I shall just get some larger glasses…

    • PJHH

      Yup – plucked out of an orifice or three: :

      > [Richard Smith former BMJ editor] recalled that the committee could find “no decent data” on the subject, but felt obliged to make a recommendation nonetheless.
      > He said: “They weren’t really based on any firm evidence at all. It was a sort of intelligent guess by a committee.”

      • James Pickett

        That’s what I was thinking of. Still, I’m glad that the health police have finally realised that nobody knows/cares what a unit is, although I’m not sure that ‘a drink’ is necessarily the right substitute. This looks like a useful accessory…

        • PJHH

          Shhh – they’ll start trying to make such things illegal:

          > Prof [Linda, for it is she] Bauld added: “The Scottish government is trying to push forward with pricing measures, for example, we need to look at marketing, **we need to look at glass sizes.**”

          • James Pickett

            Dear God – I bet she’s fun at parties. What is she a professor of – miserabology? Do these people ever listen to themselves? I don’t drink more at the weekend to get hammered, I drink (a bit) more because I don’t have to work the next day and because it makes a nice change from the rest of the week.

            Here’s something else for the Prof to disapprove of:

          • PJHH

            “Professor of Health Policy and Director of the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling”

            Bully-statist in other words.

            She’s more normally heard hectoring people about their smoking habits. Interestingly, she has no relevant qualification in the fields of health, economics or statistics, but is quite happy to espouse her opinions on such things. (She has a BA Hons and PhD in Social Policy. I hear the Underwater Basket Weaving course was fully booked…)

            She was a founding member of (anti-tobacco site funded entirely by the taxpayer via ‘charities’) – a site which feels no compunction in intimidating those they don’t like – they even mention me by name on there because I had the audacity to submit a FoI request to “Smokefree South West” regarding SFSW’s lobbying of government using taxpayers’ money.

          • James Pickett

            “Institute for Social Marketing”

            Says it all, really. There are times when I wish that Private Eye still had its ‘Wimmin’ section…

  • skeets11

    The trick is to have your entire week allotment in one night. The next night have the next weeks allotment and so on. If the government can borrow money against anticipated taxes, why not do the same with beer?

    • ricardo



      And they say excessive alcohol kills brain cells. Here is proof to contrary

  • When I was in high school 35 years ago the mocking went something like “Reality is for people who can’t handle drugs.” Now they can’t even handle a little booze.

    I stand firm in my belief that alcohol is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

  • Pat Loudoun

    Good Lord. Twelve units is pre-game.

  • DisappearHere

    The majority of these kind of people are either ex-alcoholics or have had a loved one who is an alcoholic. This messes with their perception and they see everyone who drinks as alcoholics.

    Puritans, the lot of em.

  • Corky Boyd

    “To these teetotal, ciggie-dodging suits, for whom fun is the foulest of f-words.”

    Spoken like a true Irishman!

  • HarrySchell

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.” —C.S. Lewis



  • VictorErimita

    Keep voting for “progressives.” There is literally mot one single detail of life they don’t think should be controlled by the government.

  • The silly cell phone makes people act like they are drunk and walk into traffic and their deaths. We bought the designated driver and take a cab or public transportation advice and they are still not happy. All these social engineers need to be sent to reeducation gulags to relearn the founding documents that guarantee the masses freedom from their tyranny. If they keep it up ,the gallows will likely be brought back.

  • sir_graphus

    Kingsley Amis said something along the lines of “I wouldn’t swap a single pleasure in life for an extra 2 years in an old people’s home in Weston-super-Mare.”

  • Callipygian

    ‘Binging’? I know the Americans do it but can’t we Brits stick to ‘bingeing’, with an E? ‘Bing’ belongs to cherries. For pronunciation and recognition purposes, I like that extra letter.

  • Callipygian

    And just think: our tax money is paying for this unscientific waste of time. It’s enough to make you drink!

  • I am in no way a stuffed shirt or a prig, but as someone who works in a facility where people are brought to sober up when they are found drunk and incapable in a public place, I see the aftermath of binge drinking, and the devastation caused to life when someone is seriously addicted to alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant drug, which is why you feel like crap the morning after. Alcohol is expensive, and continues to take things away from you. What does alcohol actually give you? A good night out (well, what you can remember of it through the fuzz of your hangover)? The problem lies, to a great extent, in the fact that peer pressure exerted on many, especially younger people, will encourage them to drink more than is sensible, and often far more than they would drink if their tipple was not on the round list, and being brought every round. And Yes! it kills brain cells. Who in their right mind gets all dressed up to look their best and most attractive, only to end up an incontinent heap covered in vomit lying in a doorway by the end of the night? My advice would be, if you can not drink sensibly, ask yourself why not? What hold does alcohol have over you that means you have to drink to excess to have a ‘good time’? I agree that there is a lot of ‘Big Brother’ stuff going on these days, and it should be up to the individual how much they choose to drink. But think about it – you choose to drink the first few, then you loose count of how many you have had over the evening, and only know by the emptiness of your wallet in the morning that you must have had a fair few. When you look at that guy begging in the street for enough to buy another 3 litres of rot gut, please remember that it could be you in a few years if you don’t wise up to sensible drinking. Alcohol takes relationships, jobs, homes, and ultimately ends in a miserable death, alone. If drink is becoming a problem, please do something about it now, before it is too late. Cheers!

    • PJHH

      “… but as someone who works in a facility where people are brought to sober up when they are found drunk and incapable in a public place…”

      .. you see a minority of the people who drink.

      Because of this minority, the rest of us should not be bullied by some state funded, neo-temperance, banstubatory, sock-puppet telling us what’s good for us, “or else.”

      It’s like being back at school where one person’s misdemeanours causes the rest of the class to have detention – the actions are out of all proportion to the cause.

      And it must stop.

      • I fully agree that the ‘Big Brother’ state mentality is more likely to drive you to drink than encourage you to drink sensibly. I also agree that my view may be a bit tainted by the devastation I have see alcohol create in people’s lives, their families suffering, and their health deteriorating to the point of liver failure and Korsakoff’s disease (alcohol induced dementia state). We are at the end of the drinking spectrum where it is a curse for those who develop the incurable illness of alcoholism. Unfortunately, society can not accept that some people are unable to drink in safety, so must abstain if they want to get their lives back from the clutches of alcohol. By all means, do what you want to do, PJHH, but please spare a thought for the ones who have to do things differently, not to be party poopers, but simply to survive.

        • PJHH

          “I fully agree that the ‘Big Brother’ state mentality is more likely to drive you to drink than encourage you to drink sensibly.”

          You’re not agreeing. You’re putting words into my mouth. Stop it.

          Nothing of what I said even remotely resembles what I just quoted above.

          And as such, you come across as being part of this problem of bully-statism and state-funded neo-temperance lobbyists.

          Because you see and deal with a problem minority, you naturally assume the rest of us – every last one – are like that and see it as a problem if we don’t “drink sensibly” with “sensibly” being defined as some ridiculously small number, and Something Must Be Done™.

  • Now we’re being told we can’t use the words alcoholic and alcoholism in case we offend anyone.