Join 3,433 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


I'll drink to that
August 31, 2010 2:34 AM   Subscribe

Heavy drinkers outlive nondrinkers
posted by twoleftfeet (137 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
But unfortunately we can't remember what the fuck we were doing with the extra time, or how we ended up in this flowerbed.
posted by Abiezer at 2:42 AM on August 31, 2010 [30 favorites]


And too much Time is bad for you too.
posted by chavenet at 2:43 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Moderate drinking, which is defined as one to three drinks per day

Per day? When do people have time to have all these drinks?
posted by escabeche at 2:45 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Before dinner, with dinner, and after dinner. You have to use your time wisely.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:54 AM on August 31, 2010 [16 favorites]


The drinkers have known this for a long, long time:
Here's to the man drinks water pure
And goes to bed quite sober
Here's to the man drinks water pure
And goes to bed quite sober
He falls as the leaves do fall,
Falls as the leaves do fall,
Falls as the leaves do fall--
He'll die before October.

Here's to the man who drinks good ale
And goes to bed quite mellow
Here's to the man who drinks good ale
And goes to bed quite mellow.
Lives as he ought to live
Lives as he ought to live
Lives as he ought to live--
He'll die a jolly old fellow.
posted by shii at 2:58 AM on August 31, 2010 [20 favorites]


Skirted over in the article: moderate drinkers outlive both.

As usual, I'm a bit skeptical of this idea that alcohol has health benefits, even though I'd like it to be true. There are so many possible confounding factors, like people in poor health avoiding alcohol because it makes them feel worse, that's it's very difficult to control for all of them.

Also overall life expectancy isn't necessarily the best way to measure health effects: if you study the links to specific diseases, like heart disease or liver disease, the confounding factors aren't such a problem. Just a hypothetical example: suppose for instance that people with brain tumours avoid alcohol because it makes their hangovers worse. This will bring down the average life expectancy of the abstainer group, skewing your results if that's your measurement. But if you study just the rates of developing cirrhosis of the liver in particular, those future brain-cancer victims will still be less likely to develop that particular condition, and your study isn't skewed as badly.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:58 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Actual article abstract here.
Late-Life Alcohol Consumption and 20-Year Mortality.
Conclusions: Findings are consistent with an interpretation that the survival effect for moderate drinking compared to abstention among older adults reflects 2 processes. First, the effect of confounding factors associated with alcohol abstention is considerable. However, even after taking account of traditional and nontraditional covariates, moderate alcohol consumption continued to show a beneficial effect in predicting mortality risk.

I presume that abstainers had a different spectrum of diseases than the heavy drinkers (less liver cancers, for example). Would like to know more specifically what they tended to die of. Anybody with access to the article know whether the authors put a list of the top 5-10 causes of death for the different groups?
posted by kisch mokusch at 2:58 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Per day? When do people have time to have all these drinks?

You don't have a glass of wine or two with your lunch? What uncivilized country are you from???
posted by vacapinta at 2:58 AM on August 31, 2010 [15 favorites]


It's not about how much you drink live as much as it's about how much fun you have doing it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:59 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe people who live longer drink more to dull the existential horror of their accumulated life.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:01 AM on August 31, 2010 [63 favorites]


Seriously though, as TheophileEscargot says, it would be interesting to break up the three broad groups (non, moderate, heavy) into smaller groups. It may be in fact that the longest lived group is a sub-group of the non-drinkers, depending on their reasons for not consuming alcohol.
posted by vacapinta at 3:03 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


When do people have time to have all these drinks?

In the evening, obviously. While reading a novel, watching TV, playing cribbage, knitting, whatever.
posted by creasy boy at 3:06 AM on August 31, 2010


Katz was right! Ferment your food!
posted by kaibutsu at 3:17 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, duh. Pickling things always gives them a longer shelf life than unpickled things.

Right. It's gone 11am. Where did I leave my flagon of Buckfast?
posted by MuffinMan at 3:24 AM on August 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Interesting to note that they controlled for the "standard Alcoholics Anonymous explanation for [the finding that moderate drinkers live longer than abstainers, which is] that many of those who show up as abstainers in such research are actually former hard-core drunks who had already incurred health problems associated with drinking".

However, I'm seeing one problem with the research as reported in Time: "The sample of those who were studied included individuals between ages 55 and 65 who had had any kind of outpatient care in the previous three years." So it seems not to account for the possibility that a greater proportion of non-drinkers might not have sought, or needed, outpatient care, and that death rates would presumably be lower in this group. A longitudinal study that looked at a full cohort of the age group would surely be more useful.

(Also, that they define abstainers as those who abstained at the commencement of the study - the abstract doesn't discuss whether they controlled for abstainers who became drinkers during the course of the study).
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:31 AM on August 31, 2010 [11 favorites]


It just seems longer.
posted by sidereal at 3:38 AM on August 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


When I see the term 'heavy drinker' I see a guy with a massive beer belly.
posted by bwg at 3:55 AM on August 31, 2010


My father, a heavy drinker and dead at age 42, would disagree.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 4:08 AM on August 31, 2010


Sadly, even moderate drinking seems like a lot to me lately. three drinks in a day is a wild Saturday night at this point. Not saying its bad or anything, I just can't handle it anymore.
posted by octothorpe at 4:32 AM on August 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


My father, a heavy drinker and dead at age 42, would disagree.

Doesn't everyone have an uncle who smoked eight packs a day and died running a marathon at 95? So I think that epidemiological research is interesting partly just in how it challenges our anecdotal view of the world.

I agree with others above who wondered about confounding or covariate effects -- do you drink more if you feel good, or if you feel bad? What about depression, chronic pain, and other issues for which people may self-medicate with alcohol?

So I think it's super complicated, but I kind of like living in a world where drinking is not 100% absolutely unhealthy.
posted by Forktine at 4:35 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


My father, a heavy drinker and dead at age 42, would disagree.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 12:08 PM on August 31


You did see where the article said that this apparent benefit was for moderate drinkers, right?

Also, this sort of individual anecdote tells us no more than the old "My father smoked sixty a day all his life and lived to be 96" yarns did. You have to look at a decent sample and do a decent statistical analysis.
posted by Decani at 4:36 AM on August 31, 2010


"When I see the term 'heavy drinker' I see a guy with a massive beer belly."

So do I. But the heads I see above the bellies belong to Winston Churchill and Ben Franklin.
posted by vapidave at 4:39 AM on August 31, 2010 [9 favorites]


I agree with others above who wondered about confounding or covariate effects

I hear you, but mainly I like to party. PARTY! WHOO-HOO! PARTY!

When Science tells me that I'm on the right track it just makes the party better. PARTY! WHOO-HOO! PARTY!

posted by twoleftfeet at 4:40 AM on August 31, 2010


or not
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:42 AM on August 31, 2010


Oh wait... I just saw that the article did in fact say that even heavy drinkers tend to outlive teetotallers. Well, I guess that would depend on the definition of "heavy" but still, it's very encouraging.

I have to wonder if the reason teetotallers die sooner is that all that finger-wagging and lip-pursing disapproval of drinkers causes extra stress. :-)
posted by Decani at 4:43 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Finally. Something to email to all of the people who email articles about healthy living to me. Probably with the words,

"Ah HA! Hic..."

Appended.
posted by Splunge at 4:44 AM on August 31, 2010


Drink outlives us all.
posted by pracowity at 4:45 AM on August 31, 2010


Also, this sort of individual anecdote tells us no more than the old "My father smoked sixty a day all his life and lived to be 96" yarns did. You have to look at a decent sample and do a decent statistical analysis.

Well, but mrbarrett indirectly raises an important point about the the samples in the study. They only include people over the age of 55. So all of the study's "heavy drinkers" have at least made it to 55 which is yet another skew.
posted by vacapinta at 4:46 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wonder how a study like this would play out in a society where abstention is the norm rather than the exception?
posted by bardophile at 4:50 AM on August 31, 2010


Life is so amazing and wonderful, I can't imagine spending one minute of it impaired. Better a short life of clarity than eternity in a haze.

I'm not a righteous tea-totaller, I just don't understand the desire to get drunk. I've lacked control of my bodily functions before; it was called 'infancy.' I have no desire to relive the experience.
posted by Eideteker at 4:53 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I dislike when reporters (and epi people!) say "controlling for xyz" when they mean "linearly adjusted for self-reported xyz".
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:00 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not a righteous tea-totaller, I just don't understand the desire to get drunk. I've lacked control of my bodily functions before; it was called 'infancy.' I have no desire to relive the experience.

I recommend 5g dried psylocybe on a summer day when you have 6-10 hours with nothing to do. It should pretty much explain things. Jokes aside, 1-3 drinks for most people is not drunk or lacking control of bodily functions.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:04 AM on August 31, 2010 [19 favorites]


"Life is so amazing and wonderful,"

Are you drunk?
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 5:09 AM on August 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


That's what the article defines as "moderate." My issue was with the sensationalist and justifying "Hey, it's okay to get sloshed" angle. It doesn't seem like something to celebrate.
posted by Eideteker at 5:10 AM on August 31, 2010


Better a short life of clarity than eternity in a haze. (...) I've lacked control of my bodily functions before; it was called 'infancy.' I have no desire to relive the experience.

Your approach to alcohol sounds like Jack Chick's carefully measured evaluation of Dungeons & Dragons. You are aware that there are stages of inebriation, and that the merest whiff of spirits does not transform one into an unholy blend of W.C. Fields and Barney Gumble, right?
posted by Shepherd at 5:10 AM on August 31, 2010 [16 favorites]


But it *is* okay to get sloshed. It really, really is okay.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 5:11 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


you think people who have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner are "drunk" and can't control their bodily functions?
posted by the bricabrac man at 5:13 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes. That is exactly what I think. I am in awe of your reading comprehension.
posted by Eideteker at 5:26 AM on August 31, 2010


I am a moderate drinker. I don't get teetotalers at all, and try as they might they always sound self-righteous- having said that - doesn't the study say "active social lives help people live longer, alcohol consumption is correlated with that, at a certain level of consumption the benefits of social interaction begin to be outweighed by the detrimental health impacts of alcohol? Also isn't moderate alcohol consumption positively correlated with education and wealth?
posted by JPD at 5:34 AM on August 31, 2010


...I'm not a righteous tea-totaller...

No, not at all.
posted by applemeat at 5:37 AM on August 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


This:

So it seems not to account for the possibility that a greater proportion of non-drinkers might not have sought, or needed, outpatient care, and that death rates would presumably be lower in this group.

seems really important, and a major flaw with any kind of generalizations based on this study.

Eideteker: Yes. That is exactly what I think.

It sure looked like that is exactly what you think. You pretty much equate "getting drunk" with "peeing yourself." It's right up front there.

posted by mediareport at 5:44 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know, but maybe alcohol is the only way for kids today to transcend ordinary consciousness. I mean, there's no good LSD anymore, right? Me and my hippy friends hang around downtown and somebody says "I've got some Jack" and somebody else says "I've got some Coke". So we all do "Jack and Coke", which fucks us all up into a dream, which I can only imagine would be like the dream we would have had had we had other drugs. But drunkenness is a piss poor example of transcendent psychedelic experience, not the least of which because you actually have to poorly piss. So I end up double checking my spell checker, because "hippy" is not a valid entry, but perhaps I meant "happy" or "hippo", but none of these are right, because I'm kind of on the edge, somewhere between being and non being, a left turn from the right way, and yet there still seems to be some reason to wonder, because without wonder there is only "under", and yet it still seems like a dream where I show up in a bar and they check my ID and tell me "yeah, you're over 21, but you're not the same person as in the ID" and I worry about my sanity, not because my sanity is any worse than your sanity, but because I know for a fact that that my ID is at least 21 years old, having purchased same ID online from a reputable vendor whose catch phrase, if you can have a catch phrase, an advertising phrase - if you will - for online ID vendors is "touch me, feel me". There is no doubt in my mind that a lesser mind would have chosen a simpler tag line. Perhaps just "touch me". So bereft of human contact are we all that the slightest touch, or even the slightest lack of touch, would mean so much that I've fallen in love with my iPhone... the only thing that truly understands my touch. I spread my iPhone's legs by moving my fingers apart and we make love, sweet glorious love, although only during weekend minutes.

But I digress.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:44 AM on August 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


kaibutsu has it, I think: one variable apparently not looked at in the study is fermentation. But lots of herbalists and other non-traditional nutritionists extol the virtues of fermented foods of all kinds — wine, beer, cheese, yoghurt, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, miso etc. It's not the alcohol — it's the live cultures and the wide variety of byproducts they create (enzymes, vitamins etc.), not present in the original, unfermented foods, that deliver the benefit See: Eight Reasons to Eat Fermented Food. It makes sense to me. A controlled study would show that it's not the alcohol, but the level of fermented food consumption that's increasing longevity.
posted by beagle at 5:44 AM on August 31, 2010


I'm all for moderate drinking, and even the occasional bender, but I still have to wonder... where's the graph on damage done to other people's lives by heavy drinkers?
posted by rokusan at 5:46 AM on August 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


"those who abstain from alcohol tend to be from lower socioeconomic classes"

Well that puts one of my prejudices to boot
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 5:52 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


That said, the new study provides the strongest evidence yet that moderate drinking is not only fun but good for you. So make mine a double.

Also, in defence of eideteker's argument, I think the above sentence encapsulates the way the author has pitched the angle of this article poorly. I enjoy a snifter as much as the next gentleman, but I agree that evidence in favour of moderate drinking does not vindicate a 'Trebles all round!' culture.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 6:02 AM on August 31, 2010


I can't imagine going ones whole life without tasting wine nor whiskey. To never spend on mine is toy life in a drunken revelry Abe the company of your friends. Did you never know such an adventure that you had to taste courage either in preparation or reflection? Have you never come to the altar and drank the blood of God? You are trapped on flatland or colorless wastes. I can not imagine living a life and
never known the delights of delerium. Go and read old Khayyam in good company and drink the cup before life's cup be dry.
posted by humanfont at 6:04 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


My issue was with the sensationalist and justifying "Hey, it's okay to get sloshed" angle. It doesn't seem like something to celebrate.

I dunno. The article says The authors of the new paper are careful to note that even if drinking is associated with longer life, it can be dangerous: it can impair your memory severely and it can lead to nonlethal falls and other mishaps (like, say, cheating on your spouse in a drunken haze) that can screw up your life. There's also the dependency issue: if you become addicted to alcohol, you may spend a long time trying to get off the bottle.

If you're not a total lightweight, three beers over a normal period of time (two or three hours) should not get you so hammered that you pee and barf all over yourself. I had three beers at the meetup on Saturday and was able to walk a straight line and everything. (Yes, we took the bus. Parking around Dolores Park is heinous anyway.)
posted by rtha at 6:04 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I was just about 5 or 6 my I went for a weekend sailing trip with my mom, and dad, and sister on my granddad's boat. He had the helm and a jug of wine, and drank from a coffee cup. At 11:45 he checked his watch, put away the jug and took a bottle of vodka out of small shelf.
"It's close enough to noon." he said. He made it all the way to 65, but his liver didn't. I wonder if I'll beat his record.
posted by nola at 6:10 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


i drink to kill my fear of death so i guess what youre saying is: it's working?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:11 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Beagle - bad news for your theory - spirits and macrobrews don't have active cultures in them, neither does the vast majority of wine people drink. Most beer and wine are filtered and/or pasteurized.
posted by JPD at 6:11 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


My father, a heavy drinker and dead at age 42, would disagree.

I'm sorry for your loss -- mine made it to 52. But anecdotes aren't data -- my dad drank quite a bit, but I don't think abstinence would have stopped the lung cancer that killed him.

Example: when they ask about my medical history, and I tell them that my father and my maternal grandparents all died very young -- and then explain about my mom's father being a coal miner, and her mother smoking multiple packs a day, and my dad working in the construction trades in the 60s and 70s -- all three felled by lung cancer, in one form or another.

So: Would you consider this a history of early death, medically?

Mom's still kicking and traveling the world. Dad's parents made it to their 70s. Seems that, based on my extended anecdote, the secret to long life is "don't get lung cancer."
posted by eriko at 6:12 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


"I don't know, but maybe alcohol is the only way for kids today to transcend ordinary consciousness."

There is that. I mean, cigarettes are on the outs in a lot of places. There's caffeine and the whole constellation of OTC and prescription drugs. But for a night out on the town? Your choices are liquor, and umm... liquor (if you're restricted to legal choices). It's a harder road (apparently?) to alter your consciousness consciously (and without chemical intervention). But it is possible. But there's more to it than that.

Take the framing of the MeCha post: "Great News, Everybody!" (heh heh, nervous chuckle). "Hey, man, it's okay to drink!" I mean, I'm fine with it. It doesn't do anything for me, personally (until I get to the point where it's impairing my motor function, YMMV). What concerns me is that so much time and energy seems to go into rationalizing and justifying. I mean, most of us are adults. Why is there this need to justify/make it OK? You want to drink, just drink, man.

There's also the conceit/claim that it helps you function in social situations. But then, everyone else is drinking, so why not just assume they're also nervous? Then you can just relax and get past all the bullshit and focus on having a good time. I mean, it works for me, but again, YMMV.

For me, when I'm drinking, it feels like I'm missing stuff. I won't bullshit you; no, life is not all unicorns shitting rainbows. But there's beauty in almost anything. I feel like I need my full clarity to see it. Alcohol just feels like a weak defense to me, like I'm hiding.

FWIW: When I say, "I don't understand," that means "please help me understand" not "get defensive." Take a moment to breathe, or take a drink if that's what you need to function, then read it again and reply. You'll find it does wonders to avoid angry fighty threads.

"I'm all for moderate drinking, and even the occasional bender, but I still have to wonder... where's the graph on damage done to other people's lives by heavy drinkers?"

QFT.
posted by Eideteker at 6:14 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


To never spend on mine is toy life in a drunken revelry Abe the company of your friends

lotta y'all are hitting the elixir pretty early in the day huh?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:15 AM on August 31, 2010


For medical reasons, I limit my alcohol consumption. I generally have maybe one drink a night, maybe two on a weekend night, and perhaps three across an afternoon and evening for special events. This is not remotely enough to impair my thoughts or make me lose control of -- well, anything. It's pretty rare for me to even get slightly inebriated. Most of the people I drink with socially drink more but still not to impairment -- we have a nice conversation, and then we go home. Everyone makes it home alive without dying or killing anyone else. This is not a hotbed of mayhem, it's a regular Saturday night. It is possible for mots people to drink responsibly.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:18 AM on August 31, 2010


Alcoholic food and beverage are so very ancient; humans evolved in environments in which alcohol from fermentation of sugars in grains and fruit was everpresent, and at many times in human history, introducing alcohol to water was the only way to ensure that your beverages wouldn't make you sick. There's an argument this isn't an evolutionary fluke, even though we've pathologized alcohol use and have experienced many ills due to both its overabundance and its conflict with industrial-era priorities for individuals' behavior.
posted by Miko at 6:23 AM on August 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


I've lacked control of my bodily functions before

You are allowed to stop drinking long before this becomes an issue you know.

What kind of surprises me is that we know biochemical pathways that explain some of the observations they're talking about in Time but they don't mention any of that. Looking back on all the other health and science reporting I've seen in my life, I don't know why I'm surprised though.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:23 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't drink because I have yet to find an alcoholic drink that doesn't taste like it has alcohol in it, and I have the beverage-percepting taste buds of a five year old. Yeah, I'm the one who offers chocolate milk to my guests (shaken, not stirred).

I request that we keep this thread open for the next 50 years so I can get back to you all on the dead yet/not dead yet front.

Thanks!
posted by phunniemee at 6:41 AM on August 31, 2010


"Mom's still kicking and traveling the world."

Change that to mom & dad and put in the mouth of my daughter in 30 years. That's my vision of a wonderful, heavenly life.
posted by oddman at 6:54 AM on August 31, 2010


How much is "one drink"? If it's anything like other studies examining health benefits of alcohol, it's a laughably small amount. Does anyone have access to the full text?
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 6:58 AM on August 31, 2010


lotta y'all are hitting the elixir pretty early in the day huh?

iPhoned, iPosted, iFailed.
posted by humanfont at 7:01 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Life is so amazing and wonderful, I can't imagine spending one minute of it impaired. Better a short life of clarity than eternity in a haze.

I'm not a righteous tea-totaller, I just don't understand the desire to get drunk. I've lacked control of my bodily functions before; it was called 'infancy.' I have no desire to relive the experience.



Really? Because that sounds incredibly righteous to me.
posted by Theta States at 7:02 AM on August 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Most beer and wine are filtered and/or pasteurized
Pasteurized WINE?? You people are *EVIL*.
posted by vivelame at 7:03 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am a moderate drinker. I don't get teetotalers at all

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your use of the word "teetotalers," which I thought just meant "people who don't drink alcohol." Do you mean anti-alcohol evangelists? Evangelists (of any kind) are obnoxious. I'm not one of them. Most teetotalers aren't. If you think they are, I suggest you're swimming in confirmation bias, noticing the ones that preach because the ones that don't aren't noticeable.

I am close to being a teetotaler, but I don't go around preaching to people. I don't understand what's hard to get. I don't drink because I generally don't like the way it makes me feel. Do you not get people unless they like the things you like?

I think there are health benefits to moderate drinking and that heavy drinking is bad for you. I don't think that's all that controversial. I don't abstain for any moralistic or health reasons. I abstain because I DON'T LIKE IT. Just like I don't like ketchup and pickles. I don't think people who like ketchup and pickles are morally bereft. (Well, maybe the pickle lovers are. But come ON! Pickles: gross!)

I'm guessing many drinkers are continually made to feel like they're bad people, and I'm sorry about that. What you do is nobody's business (unless you make it somebody's business, e.g. by engaging in drunken misbehavior), but since you know how it feels to be judged for something you choose to do that doesn't hurt anyone else, you should be smart enough to not do the same thing to others: all my life, I've been treated with suspicion and mockery because I don't drink -- not by all drinkers or even most drinkers. By assholes who are defensive for whatever reason and who need a target.

Just leave me alone and I'll leave you alone.
posted by grumblebee at 7:11 AM on August 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'll add that (I think) I get the pleasure many people feel when they drink: the freedom, the loosening of social strictures, the buzz, etc. I get it. I really do. I just happen to not like other feelings I tend to get when I drink.
posted by grumblebee at 7:13 AM on August 31, 2010


I KNEW IT. If you're reading this mom, you never should have kicked me out. AGAIN.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:14 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eideteker, Eideteker was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table
David Hume could out-consume
Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:15 AM on August 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


Gamien Boffenburg: "But it *is* okay to get sloshed. It really, really is okay."

Dude. You've convinced me. Cocktails at my place this evening. I'll make nachos. Bring your friends.
posted by Splunge at 7:15 AM on August 31, 2010


How much is "one drink"? If it's anything like other studies examining health benefits of alcohol, it's a laughably small amount.

The standard measurement (in the U.S.), used by the CDC and, as far as I can tell, most bars, is:

* 12-ounces of beer.
* 8-ounces of malt liquor.
* 5-ounces of wine.
* 1.5-ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, or whiskey).

Which sounds like a "normal" drink to me.
posted by rtha at 7:15 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I'll make nachos. Bring your friends."

The international language of booze works it's magic one more time.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 7:22 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


You people, always with the drinking!

Is that your only hobby? I only oppose alcohol consumption if it's the only thing going on or if it's the only thing making everyone tolerable.
posted by fuq at 7:24 AM on August 31, 2010


and, as far as I can tell, most bars

Bars do tend to pour 4 or 5-oz wines and 1.5-oz shots, and beers in bottles are 12 oz., but in places that draw draft beer it seems to me it's most often served in pint glasses, which are 16 oz. That's probably not universal - I can remember getting mini-glasses of beer in regions away from the East Coast - but around here when people say "a couple beers" we really mean "a couple pints," which in CDC terms would be 2 and 2/3 "drinks", instead of 2. Also, because some mixed drinks, especially the all- or mostly-alcohol kind like cosmopolitans and martinis, contain more than one shot's worth of alcohol, they can represent more than one "drink" as well. This is where tracking consumption gets trickier.
posted by Miko at 7:26 AM on August 31, 2010


"I'm guessing many drinkers are continually made to feel like they're bad people, and I'm sorry about that. What you do is nobody's business (unless you make it somebody's business, e.g. by engaging in drunken misbehavior), but since you know how it feels to be judged for something you choose to do that doesn't hurt anyone else, you should be smart enough to not do the same thing to others: all my life, I've been treated with suspicion and mockery because I don't drink -- not by all drinkers or even most drinkers. By assholes who are defensive for whatever reason and who need a target."

Right on.

"Are you drunk?"

This, and other comments like it, strike me as things that would be incredibly insensitive to say to someone who was a recovering alcoholic, someone who grew up in an alcoholic home, or someone who lost a loved one to a drunk driver. Granted, it's not reminding someone of rape trauma (and I'm being very cautious in cross-pollinating threads here), but how come this sort of behavior gets a pass? Where's the line?

I still come down on the side of free speech (sticks n' stones, in this case). Just wondering why the double standard.
posted by Eideteker at 7:27 AM on August 31, 2010


I think alcohol is an important social ritual just because it allows me to see people with their defenses down a bit, and that lets me know a lot about someone fast.
If someone is inebriated (in any way) and they are a drastically different person, red flags go up.

I do have a number of friends that abstain from any alcohol or narcotics. Luckily for me, they all seem to have the gift of gab and are all immensely amusing to be around sober.
posted by Theta States at 7:29 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Eideteker, that wasn't meant to be nasty. Sorry if it came off that way.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 7:34 AM on August 31, 2010


Just like I don't like ketchup and pickles.


You are a dirty, godless heathen. If you were a country I'd start a war with you and take all of your bland, lifeless hamburgers.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:37 AM on August 31, 2010


You are a dirty, godless heathen. If you were a country I'd start a war with you and take all of your bland, lifeless hamburgers.

Hamburgers? Gross!
posted by grumblebee at 7:42 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Eideteker, that wasn't meant to be nasty. Sorry if it came off that way."

np, we're cool. I wasn't trying to be axe-grindy about an old thread, either; it just struck me.
posted by Eideteker at 7:42 AM on August 31, 2010


Kewlness.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 7:43 AM on August 31, 2010


Hamburgers? Gross!

Ready yourself for shock and awe.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:47 AM on August 31, 2010


I'm not a righteous tea-totaller, I just don't understand the desire to get drunk.

In my experience, the getting drunk usually stems from this thought process:

"Well, we've been having a good time so far drinking, so let's continue drinking." and then mis-judging the amount of alcohol that will keep me and my friends buzzed. A lot of time getting drunk involves switching to shots. 99% of the time that I'm drinking I don't get drunk.

That's my thing. My dad was a tea-totaller and it seemed to work for him, so if that's your thing I won't begrudge you it. I do regret never being able to drink a beer with the man - because for me that's a nice social bonding experience - but we had enough good times that I don't worry about it.
posted by revgeorge at 7:58 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder how a study like this would play out in a society where abstention is the norm rather than the exception?

Per this Rasmussen poll, 27% of Americans don't drink at all, while 20% drink "several times a week," including 9% who drink "every day or almost every day."

So it seems like the space between "non-drinkers" and "moderate drinkers" (1-3 drinks per day) includes a pretty big chunk of the population. In particular, absention isn't the norm, but neither is moderate drinking in the sense of the study.
posted by escabeche at 8:01 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Life is so amazing and wonderful, I can't imagine spending one minute of it impaired.

I don't know you personally, and I am really not trying to insult you, but every person I do know who has expressed similar sentiments was something of a neurotic control freak who in my opinion would have seen their lives improved very much if they spent some period of time learning how to let go.

Better a short life of clarity than eternity in a haze.

Better a clear photograph than an impressionist painting. Better doing something useful than lying on a beach. Better a book that sticks to the facts than something artistic. I think there's a time for clarity (driving, for example) and a time for a warm haze (perhaps a party.)

I'm really not that big a drinker, honest. I never drink enough to vomit or get hungover (since college, a decade back) because that's not worth it to me. But at least a few drinks at least a few times a month is a good thing, IMO.
posted by callmejay at 8:36 AM on August 31, 2010 [14 favorites]


This is a standard serving of wine. If that looks unfamiliar, you are doing it wrong.
posted by everichon at 8:44 AM on August 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


I don't know, but maybe alcohol is the only way for kids today to transcend ordinary consciousness. I mean, there's no good LSD anymore, right?

That is... not particularly true. Check around the Canadian border. And hell, I've seen DMT floating around recently, and I thought that had basically been consigned to the 'cook it yourself if you want to try it' bin. And mushrooms are never unavailable, altho that's a completely different flavor of perception-revamp.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:46 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like drinking. Sometimes. Some of the most interesting stories I have to tell involve being drunk.

I guess some of us just perceive the world in a different way. I don't find alcohol numbing at all, in moderate quantity. Yeah, after the 14th shot, I'm pretty effing numb (although still capable of making the urine go into the urinal), but then a client pays the barmaid to give us all a flash and suddenly I'm not so numb.

No, the only thing that sucks about drinking is when you've had far too much and you're still drunk in the morning and forget to pick up your chili dogs before flying out. Well, that and having too much at the airport bar and having trouble finding your gate. Once you're on the plane, though...make it a double and keep 'em coming. (as long as you don't have to drive once you arrive)

That said, there are almost certainly much better travel drugs. They're probably cheaper than a lounge membership, too.
posted by wierdo at 8:53 AM on August 31, 2010


"I don't know you personally, and I am really not trying to insult you, but every person I do know who has expressed similar sentiments was something of a neurotic control freak who in my opinion would have seen their lives improved very much if they spent some period of time learning how to let go."

Yeah, you don't know me well at all. I'm all about getting people to let go. =) I even wrote a series of short stories called "Letting Go."

I just prefer to do it without alcohol. I see a lot of folks who need alcohol to let go, and I'm like, you need to let go of the alcohol, too, otherwise you're not truly letting go. That's where I'm coming from. Like I said, my issue isn't with the alcohol so much as it is everything that people build up around alcohol. Some folks like a little self-deception (and may indeed find it healthy); I have a very low tolerance for it.

And we should hang out! Some future meetup, maybe. I find it seldom hurts to get to know someone. I'm all about different perspectives, even if I have the tendency to sound adversarial. It's hard not to when you Question Everything (working on it, though, just like everything else).
posted by Eideteker at 9:07 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I could drink any of you under the table. But I won't. I'm a gentleman.
posted by Kwine at 9:20 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would very much like to see if their teetotaler sampler are life-long teetotalers. Because I would bet hard money that they're not.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:47 AM on August 31, 2010


umm. wierdo? not really helping the cause there.
posted by widdershins at 10:05 AM on August 31, 2010


An interesting drinking game to play is to see how closely you can hew to The Glow, without straying in to Oy Now I Am Drunk or (equally perilous) Oy Now I Am Sober.

As with all skills, this requires diligent practice.
posted by everichon at 10:10 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]



I would very much like to see if their teetotaler sampler are life-long teetotalers. Because I would bet hard money that they're not.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:47 PM on August 31


Did you miss this bit?

"The standard Alcoholics Anonymous explanation for this finding is that many of those who show up as abstainers in such research are actually former hard-core drunks who had already incurred health problems associated with drinking.

But a new paper in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that — for reasons that aren't entirely clear — abstaining from alcohol does actually tend to increase one's risk of dying even when you exclude former drinkers
."
posted by Decani at 10:21 AM on August 31, 2010


Metafilter is just a drinking game waiting to happen.
posted by Theta States at 10:21 AM on August 31, 2010


I just prefer to do it without alcohol. I see a lot of folks who need alcohol to let go, and I'm like, you need to let go of the alcohol, too, otherwise you're not truly letting go. That's where I'm coming from. Like I said, my issue isn't with the alcohol so much as it is everything that people build up around alcohol. Some folks like a little self-deception (and may indeed find it healthy); I have a very low tolerance for it.

At some point, truly letting go means letting go of the idea that you need to let go. Building up a bunch of mental baggage around "clarity" is no better or worse than building it up around alcohol.
posted by vorfeed at 11:32 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


It has been mentioned a couple of times above, but it needs emphasis: most people have no idea what "a drink" means. Here's the standard definition:

"A standard drink is equal to 13.7 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in

12-ounces of beer.
8-ounces of malt liquor.
5-ounces of wine.
1.5-ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, or whiskey)."


A few things to note. Unfortunately, these days you simply cannot go by "12 ounces of beer" or "5 ounces of wine". The reason is because of individual variation in the amount of alcohol contained in a beer or wine. For example, it used to be, that the average amount of alcohol in a wine was about 12.5%, with some light white fizz varieties of 8% and heavier desert ones at 18% and up. But there's been a steady and deplorable trend over the past twenty years or so, for the alcohol content of wines to rise across, with many adding alcohol post fermentation (personally I find that deeply offensive). Nowadays I'm pleasantly surprised to find a wine at the standard 12.5%, with most now having moved to 14% and up.

Therefore, you cannot simply eyeball 5 ounces of wine. You must calculate - because a drink really is "13.7g (0.6 ounces)" of pure alcohol.

Do you have any idea how small a glass of wine has to be to contain 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol for most wines these days? A hint: it's smaller than the standard white wine glass. It tiny. And health benefits from moderate drinking - the studies indicate the benefits are closer to 1 drink a day, though the drop off doesn't become sharp until you go over 2-3 drinks (women usually less, and quite contraindicated for those at high risk of breast cancer and certain other cancers). Moderate drinking also means not binge drinking 14 drinks on Saturday, and nothing for the rest of the week - moderate means 1-2 drinks spread over several days in a week - and it might be wise to give your liver a rest for 2-3 days a week (I drink 1-2 drinks 5 days a week, abstain completely for 2 days).

Bottom line. Maximum benefits are for males, middle aged and older, who take 1-2 drinks a 4-5 times a week taken with food (with red wine possibly being superior). Those are tiny amounts. You'd be surprised how little two drinks of wine are - you take a few gulps and it's all over.

I'm afraid that what most people take as a "drink" is something that's quite unrelated to how it's defined by scientists - in fact, I think it's a bad word to have used ("drink") precisely because of cultural norms in common usage. It would've been better if they called it something different - less chance of misleading people.
posted by VikingSword at 11:33 AM on August 31, 2010


Hey VikingSword,
I don't come over to your house and piss on your carpet!

OK, there was that one time, but I was drunk
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:45 AM on August 31, 2010


Nowadays I'm pleasantly surprised to find a wine at the standard 12.5%, with most now having moved to 14% and up.

Really? I almost never see wines 14% and up. 13% seems to be the most common by far.
I am always surprised to find any real "big reds" locally.
It might just be where we live, though. I recently went to USA and found you could buy 8 Litre bottles of wine at the drug stores. yikes.
posted by Theta States at 11:50 AM on August 31, 2010


I know you didn't because I don't have carpets - disgusting rags collecting mites and dust. Hardwood floors only. Makes it much easier to clean up after people who overindulge in drink, TheWhiteSkull.
posted by VikingSword at 11:50 AM on August 31, 2010


widdershins wrote: "umm. wierdo? not really helping the cause there."

There's a cause? I'll always drink for a cause.

Seriously, though, it's plainly obvious that if you drink enough to increase your risk of cirrhosis of the liver any health benefits of the alcohol or the social aspect or whatever it is will be outweighed by that damage. Similarly, if one is the sort who can't take alcohol without becoming belligerent and/or unpleasant or getting an uncontrollable urge to drive a car, those issues also outweigh any health benefits.

Can't a guy enjoy some good news?

posted by wierdo at 11:54 AM on August 31, 2010


Theta States, it's interesting about alcohol content of wines - see this f.ex. Google around, it's not just anecdata... for a while I thought confirmation bias, but seriously, go into a wine store, assuming you clearly remember numbers from the past.
posted by VikingSword at 11:54 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is a standard serving of wine. If that looks unfamiliar, you are doing it wrong.

Damn. I need to find a new bar.
posted by rokusan at 12:11 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Trying to convince people to drink is not cool, really. You rarely know all the facts behind why they're not drinking, since often it will be something they don't want to talk about (and they may give a different story when pressed). If you want to drink, drink, but don't get upset or try to cajole others into drinking (this is very similar to the meat-eater/vegetarian thing).

[I drink occasionally, but know a few alcoholics who get harassed about not drinking all the time, which is ridiculously uncool. Plenty of people on this thread seem to be like those assholes. Why the fuck do you care if someone drinks or not?]
posted by wildcrdj at 12:14 PM on August 31, 2010


"Sobriety diminishes, discriminates, and says no; drunkenness expands, unites and says yes." Or so said William James.

Of course, drunkenness says "yes" to a lot of things: "Yes, I'll cheat on my wife." "Yes, I'll start a fight."

My grandmother had a glass eye because of all the times my grandfather's drunkenness said, "Yes, I'll punch her... that'll teach her to respect me!" They're both dead now, but family patterns have ways of re-emerging for the living.

Mostly, drunkenness seems to say, "Yes, I'll have another."

If the health effects of drinking are tied to the wealth of drinkers v. non-drinkers, or to the socializing that drinkers do and the relative isolation of non-drinkers, then those are things we can work on directly.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:16 PM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would like to see a similar study, that compares how many lives are taken by people who don't drink, drink moderately, or drink heavily.
posted by davejay at 12:31 PM on August 31, 2010


Not having read the study, there have been similar studies before.

My guess so far has been that drinkers tend to have somewhat higher BMI and that this is an outcome of the inverse BMI effect you see in older people -- BMI is inversely correlated with death from all causes after about age 50 (up to that point, it is directly correlated, which basically comes do to, imho, the ones obesity was going to kill are dead, and for the rest the extra weight amounts to a net positive in terms of reserves, etc.)
posted by rr at 12:46 PM on August 31, 2010


This is a standard serving of wine. If that looks unfamiliar, you are doing it wrong.

No, THIS is a standard serving of wine. Chug!
posted by mrgrimm at 1:26 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Excellent, mrgrimm.

MY DOCTOR: How many drinks would you say you have a day?
ME: One.
posted by everichon at 1:31 PM on August 31, 2010


Metafilter is just a drinking game waiting to happen.

Bottom line. Maximum benefits are for males, middle aged and older, who take 1-2 drinks a 4-5 times a week taken with food (with red wine possibly being superior)

VikingSword, I was under the impression that the (possible) benefits of red wine (from resveratrol) only exist when drinking without food.

hell, I've seen DMT floating around recently, and I thought that had basically been consigned to the 'cook it yourself if you want to try it' bin.

"I got no time to drop LSD.
Oh, I guess I still got time for DMT.
DMT"
posted by mrgrimm at 1:35 PM on August 31, 2010


For me, when I'm drinking, it feels like I'm missing stuff. I won't bullshit you; no, life is not all unicorns shitting rainbows. But there's beauty in almost anything. I feel like I need my full clarity to see it. Alcohol just feels like a weak defense to me, like I'm hiding.

Interesting. For me, I've always felt that there are different joys and lessons and experiences to be had when drinking or doing any other drug, mostly when you're young, and they can be useful and good ones, but that there are even more important and significant things to be learned and done while straight and sober. That both conditions are just that -- states of mind -- and both, if you are lucky enough not to become dependent on the chemicals, can be enjoyable and positive states to be in.

So I've always loved to drink and I've always loved to be sober, not in equal measure, perhaps, but with equal, full-on, fervor.

But alcohol has different effects on different people; for some, it's not as benign or as much fun, I realize.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:09 PM on August 31, 2010


My guess so far has been that drinkers tend to have somewhat higher BMI and that this is an outcome of the inverse BMI effect you see in older people

I thought that effect was only seen when you control for a variety of cardiovascular disorders. i.e. If you look at people who don't have hypertension, diabetes etc. Seems to me that this study wouldn't have gone to such lengths (though, as I wrote above, I haven't got access to the article to check).

I was under the impression that the (possible) benefits of red wine (from resveratrol)


I think you'd need to drink something in the order of 1000 bottles of red wine a day to get enough resveratrol to have a significant effect on lifespan (based on the sir2 data).
posted by kisch mokusch at 2:31 PM on August 31, 2010


VikingSword, I was under the impression that the (possible) benefits of red wine (from resveratrol) only exist when drinking without food.

I am personally unpersuaded that resveratrol is the compound responsible for red wine health benefits. It may or may not be a contributing factor, but I do not believe there's enough evidence that it's the operative factor. Yes, I am aware of a number of studies.

However, that is moot. When wondering about an effect, why not go directly to studies that isolate that effect? That way, one doesn't have to be lost in trying to disentangle multiple indirect effects.

And, as always with any health recommendations I make in the blue/green, I rely on studies.

In the case of wine consumption with meals and apart from meals, again there is a direct study:

"Drinking pattern and mortality: the Italian Risk Factor and Life Expectancy pooling project.
Trevisan M, Schisterman E, Mennotti A, Farchi G, Conti S; Risk Factor And Life Expectancy Research Group.
PMID: 11399445

PURPOSE: To analyze the relationship between an aspect of drinking pattern (i.e., drinking with or without meals) and risk of all-cause and specific-cause mortality.

METHODS: The Risk Factors and Life Expectancy Study, is a pooling of a series of epidemiological studies conducted in Italy. Eight-thousand six-hundred and forty-seven men and 6521 women, age 30-59 at baseline, and free of cardiovascular disease, were followed for mortality from all causes, cardiovascular and noncardiovascular, during an average follow-up of 7 years.

RESULTS: Drinkers of wine outside meals exhibited higher death rates from all causes, noncardiovascular diseases, and cancer, as compared to drinkers of wine with meals. This association was independent from the cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors measured at baseline and the amount of alcohol consumed and seemed to be stronger in women as compared to men.

CONCLUSIONS: The present results indicate that drinking patterns may have important health implications, and attention should be given to this aspect of alcohol use and its relationship to health outcomes. The relationship between alcohol consumption and disease has been the focus of intensive scientific investigation (1-9). Most studies to date, however, have limitations. A major drawback is that limited information has been collected regarding the complex issue of alcohol consumption. In many studies, ascertainment of alcohol consumption frequently focused only on quantity of alcohol consumed without considering the many different components of alcohol consumption, particularly drinking pattern (10-12). It has been hypothesized, and preliminary data support the notion, that drinking pattern could have important influences on determining the health effects of alcohol (13,14). The present study examines the relationship between one aspect of drinking pattern (drinking wine outside meals) and mortality in a large cohort of men and women."

This is a very powerful result, because it was also based on *all cause* mortality, as well as specific cause, and thus is much less prone to the 'illusory benefits' effect (f.ex. sure alcohol will help your heart but will give you cancer, so in the end it's a wash). All cause mortality means that at the end of the day, no matter the cause, there were fewer deaths for people who took their wine with meals rather than apart from meals. They also adjusted for the amount of alcohol etc., so this is a very solid conclusion.

The study addresses the question head on, therefore sparing us the argument about resveratrol or any other compound. The take away from this is: drink your wine with meals for maximum benefit and don't worry which specific agent in the wine is most responsible for the health benefits (and odds are, there are many agents, with not one being responsible for the vast majority of the effect in any case).
posted by VikingSword at 2:39 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I cannot believe no one has said 'only the good die young' yet.
posted by danep at 3:40 PM on August 31, 2010


I am a moderate drinker. I don't get teetotalers at all, and try as they might they always sound self-righteous-

I always enjoyed alcohol moderately but had to stop drinking entirely (for medical reasons) a couple years ago. Turned out it wasn't that big a deal to me, really - saves some money, probably feel a bit better most sunday mornings, and I don't think I really need it to relax with friends. But the one thing that is annoying is how much other people care.

If I was better at lying & could just get a fake rumncoke-without-the-rum, type of thing, I think I'd hardly miss the alcohol. but of course when you order a coke in a bar it does not look like a "real" drink, and people always ask, even when they know (Oh, you're still not drinking?) No one likes to drink alone, so in a small group people often try to convince me to have a drink or at least a sip... When I remind them it's medical, there's usually some acceptance, but it's not uncommon for people to forget, bring it up again another time (maybe because they're tipsy - ) or comment on it (wow, have you talked to another doctor...?)

It's not terrible or anything - plenty of people take it in stride, and I just let the other attitudes slide off. But it is still surprising to me how often it's an issue, and how much people dislike the idea that I'm not drinking. I like alcohol! but I like it in the way I like many things - pancakes, or kiwis, or eggplant - it's good but I rarely felt like I had to seek it out, was always more of a "if it's around" kind of drinker. So now that I can't, it's easy enough for me to just not partake. I'm not not drinking to make a point...
posted by mdn at 3:59 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


well, I know it was TIME Magazine, but it did say that all-important phrase, "social lubricant," which eases the stress of everyday living with companionship. Here's my anecdata about moderate to heavy drinking and mental health:

My dad, who's been seriously hearing impaired since his stint driving a tank in North Korea, used to enjoy relatively good health in spite of the incredible social alienation of his near-deafness. Although he had almost no close friends, and it was impossible to carry on a complex conversation with him (unless you had the patience to shout, and re-shout all your multisyllabic words and compound sentences), he spent a lot of time in bars - nearly every night.

He generally drank about half a dozen beers and had half a hundred fond acquaintances who'd cheerfully shout his name, pat his shoulder and pass a few pleasantries about the Steelers. Girlfriends, too - I think in many cases they were happier he couldn't hear what they were saying to him.

Now he's older and in poorer health and his medication precludes his drinking at all. Guess what's become of his social life, and thus, his mental health, which in turn affects his physical well-being, and so on...
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:34 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, I can feel less guilty about ordering a pizza tonight if I drink whiskey instead of soda with it. sweet.
posted by SomeOneElse at 4:35 PM on August 31, 2010


but of course when you order a coke in a bar it does not look like a "real" drink, and people always ask, even when they know

order ginger ale. looks just like a whiskey and soda. Tell them to fuck off if they ask what it is - then they'll *know* it's a whiskey and soda ;-)
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:36 PM on August 31, 2010


Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit drinking.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:04 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of a Frank Sinatra quote: "I feel sorry for sober people. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're gonna feel all day."
posted by zardoz at 5:21 PM on August 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Kwine - I could drink any of you under the table. But I won't. I'm a gentleman.

Well, I'm not, so I shall proceed to drink you under the table if ever our paths shall cross. I drink fish under the table.
posted by porpoise at 6:19 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


but of course when you order a coke in a bar it does not look like a "real" drink, and people always ask, even when they know (Oh, you're still not drinking?) No one likes to drink alone, so in a small group people often try to convince me to have a drink or at least a sip...

How old are you? I found this to be the case constantly when I was a teenager (and usually wasn't drinking because there was no way I was going to get in a car driven by my hammered friends), fairly often in college, sometimes in my twenties, and never at all in the last decade. Whether I have a beer or a coke, no one comments these days, and I've never seen anyone get hassled for not drinking in recent years.

I think maybe it's because as we age many of us have had some issues with drinking ourselves, at least to the point of wanting to sometimes take a few weeks or months off, and everyone knows someone who can't drink because they have a problem (said in that special tone of voice). And with work and kids and mortgages and all the stuff of "real life," there are a lot of evenings when it makes more sense to either stop after one drink or not have any at all.

So while I remember (and not at all fondly) the experience of holding a coke and having six people think they are super witty by making jokes about it, it is a really distant memory now, and I'm a lot happier because of it. I'm sorry people are giving you a bad time, and I hope that you also find things ease as you age.
posted by Forktine at 8:16 PM on August 31, 2010


RESULTS: Drinkers of wine outside meals exhibited higher death rates from all causes, noncardiovascular diseases, and cancer, as compared to drinkers of wine with meals. ...

The take away from this is: drink your wine with meals for maximum benefit and don't worry which specific agent in the wine is most responsible for the health benefits (and odds are, there are many agents, with not one being responsible for the vast majority of the effect in any case).
--VikingSword

I once heard a nutrition expert say to always eat something with fat in it (meat, salad dressing, whatever) when you eat vegetables because a number of vitamins are fat soluble, and will wash right through you if you eat them alone. I wonder if there is a similar effect with alcohol. Maybe the alcohol is giving our bodies access to nutrition that we wouldn't otherwise receive.

Or...maybe it is the alcohol itself, which is definitely poisonous if you drink too much, and people who drink with meals are more likely to be moderate drinkers.
posted by eye of newt at 8:35 PM on August 31, 2010


And I once heard this about teetotallers: some people, because of personality, body chemistry, or culture, can't drink alcohol without drinking too much, and eventually becoming addicted, and generally ruining their lives. Sometimes, after a generation or two, a smart family catches on to this, and alcohol becomes a major taboo. Maybe two or three generations later, people will forget the reasoning behind the taboo, but the taboo will remain.

That's why if someone says they don't drink alcohol, and have never tried it, I would never dream of pushing it on them.
posted by eye of newt at 8:40 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Everything I find on the net shows alcohol decreasing absorption of nutrients. So much for that theory.
posted by eye of newt at 10:24 PM on August 31, 2010


Ok, I haven't read all the comments, but am here to put in my two cents worth as someone whose only taste of alcohol was accidentally sipped Passover wine (you know, you get up, move around during the seder, and end up in what wasn't your original seat, so the cup in front of you is now wine, not grape juice. sigh.). I don't drink AT ALL, for religious and cultural reasons. I have no problem with other people drinking in moderation, but don't really enjoy being around people who are drunk. So how does that make me self-righteous, again?

Given the propensity amongst many Muslims (I have no idea if this applies to conservative members of other religious groups) to say "Hey, look at this. Modern science says this, and the Quran has been saying it ALL along!" I'm always interested in scientific studies that tend to suggest the opposite of Muslim dogma.
posted by bardophile at 5:23 AM on September 1, 2010


order ginger ale. looks just like a whiskey and soda.

The problem here is that at most (dive?) bars, "ginger ale" is coke and sprite. BOOOOO. (Ginger ale must be the priciest soda or something. It's not in my (subsidized) vending machines at work either.)

If I was better at lying & could just get a fake rumncoke-without-the-rum, type of thing, I think I'd hardly miss the alcohol.

This probably isn't what you're talking about, but I've long had a dream of making a non-alcoholic bourbon-flavored cola drink that I could sip all day at work.

I don't drink because I have yet to find an alcoholic drink that doesn't taste like it has alcohol in it

How can alcohol not taste like alcohol? I actually like the taste of lots of alcohol (see: non-alcoholic bourbon dream)--beer, wine, whiskey, tequila. Perhaps some tastes take more exposures to acquire.

The problem is that I like the taste so much I run the risk of drinking too much too quickly. I wish there were some way to create lower-alcohol versions of drinks that tasted as good.

I suppose my wish (lower alcohol/na drinks that taste as good) is as impossible as yours (alcoholic drinks that don't taste like alcohol).

If you don't like the taste of alcohol but want to get a little drunk (or a lot, I suppose), try a sprite + light beer. Or a white wine spritzer. It's not rocket science. Find the least offensive alcoholic beverage and water it down with a mixer of some sort. Bubbles help.

I've never seen anyone get hassled for not drinking in recent years.

I think I was lucky enough, or picked the right friends, never see anyone (seriously) hassled for not drinking. I had a few teetotaler friends in high school and college and while it certainly wasn't going to make you Mr. Popular and it probably led to some awkward (or avoided) social moments, it wasn't ridiculed (except, perchance, by drunken fools ;).
posted by mrgrimm at 7:49 AM on September 1, 2010


Forktine, I'm in my upper 30s, though I have friends from 20ish to 60+, so there's a mix of people. I don't hang out with that many people with kids, though, so that could be the maturity factor! It's certainly not everyone who comments, and I didn't mean to make it sound like every time I'm hanging out I'm surrounded by a group of people seriously hassling me. it's just the way that people take notice of it, whereas they don't take notice of whether you indulge in the hummus. I'm not suffering in some awful way or anything.

I was just pointing out the minor annoyance that drinking is such a staple of our society that there are consistently these small awkward moments or disappointed looks or gentle rebukes. (As a vegetarian, I have experienced something similar with turning down meat, but where I live, more people are bothered that I don't drink than that I don't eat meat.)

order ginger ale. looks just like a whiskey and soda.

IME the issue is the size of the glass, which is problematic b/c I don't really want a smaller glass just for show, but a big glass kinda gives away a soft drink (unless it's a beer). Maybe some kind of a ginger beer that could pass for a lager is what I'm looking for... And then it'd have a sharper taste too. So tell me what bar to go to for that :)
posted by mdn at 8:45 AM on September 1, 2010


Further to "fake drinks I can drink at work or drink with drinky friends", I strongly recommend high-end tonic water. It's delicious, and I almost feel like I'm sipping a ginnantonix.
posted by everichon at 8:51 AM on September 1, 2010


I know some non-drinkers who will order root beer while in a bar or restaurant when everyone else is drinking. It's generally served in a manner similar to beer (typically in a pint glass) and looks similar once the bubbles have a second to disperse, particularly if the lights are dimmed.

Some places have some fairly high-end bottled root beers now, too. A few weeks ago I was in a 3.2% state and decided just to switch over to a local root beer after the first round. Better a decent bottle of root beer than a neutered IPA.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:21 PM on September 1, 2010


The Workmans Friend
Myles na gCopaleen

When things go wrong and will not come right,
Though you do the best you can,
When life looks black as the hour of night—
A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN.

When money's tight and hard to get
And your horse has also ran,
When all you have is a heap of debt—
A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN.

When health is bad and your heart feels strange,
And your face is pale and wan,
When doctors say you need a change,
A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN.

When food is scarce and your larder bare
And no rashers grease your pan,
When hunger grows as your meals are rare—
A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN.

In time of trouble and lousy strife,
You have still got a darlin plan
You still can turn to a brighter life—
A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN.
posted by nfg at 5:01 AM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


This, and other comments like it, strike me as things that would be incredibly insensitive to say to someone who was a recovering alcoholic, someone who grew up in an alcoholic home, or someone who lost a loved one to a drunk driver blah blah blah...

Eideteker, not only are you not a righteous tea-totaller, you're also the self-appointed guardian of recovered alcoholics' feelings.

You're so brave and clean!
posted by IAmBroom at 10:23 AM on September 2, 2010


I don't mean to be totally lame here, but I would like to mention that my step-mom died of alcoholism in her 50s. My dad has outlived her by almost 20 years - he drinks moderately and ended up divorcing her because of her inability to deal with her problem.

BTW, I'm also an alcoholic, but I haven't drank for about eight years.

This, and other comments like it, strike me as things that would be incredibly insensitive to say to someone who was a recovering alcoholic

Since you're not one, don't presume to speak for others. I am a recovering alcoholic (well, that's what they call it, but I don't identify that way so much), and I don't really care. I thought it was sort of funny- not hilarious, but not due to any offense. You might want to go to an AA meeting sometime. Plenty of people at the meetings make jokes about alcoholism. Life is too short to take everything so seriously.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:58 AM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


all my life, I've been treated with suspicion and mockery because I don't drink -- not by all drinkers or even most drinkers. By assholes who are defensive for whatever reason and who need a target.

I don't drink, and I don't care what assholes think. Why should you? Even nice people can be assholes when they drink.

Some jabbing is fine, and I can take it and dish it out, but I don't really hang out with people who constantly mock me because I don't drink; I'm no masochist. What I've noticed is the people who do this the most are usually dealing with their own drinking problem and don't like being around sober people. Believe me, you really do not need to be concerned about what those people say. I should know, because I used to be one.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:08 AM on September 5, 2010


If someone is inebriated (in any way) and they are a drastically different person, red flags go up.

I do have a number of friends that abstain from any alcohol or narcotics. Luckily for me, they all seem to have the gift of gab and are all immensely amusing to be around sober.


What you may not have considered is that those people might not drink anymore because of the specific reason that they were drastically different when they drank. Doesn't mean they are bad people. But if someone is drastically different when they drink, they may have an issue with it, especially if it's every time. This is not an indication that those behaviors are deep-seated and ordinarily concealed from view, and it's alcohol that reveals them - many alcoholics simply do not behave the way they do drunk as they do when they're sober, and they'd never even consider it. However, this may be an indication that someone has a problem that they haven't dealt with, which in itself may be a red flag. I don't really like hanging out with such people, but please don't see this kind of thing as an indication of some character flaw. Addiction problems are not due to character, and the behavior is characteristic of the addiction. Yours is a common misconception, one I used to harbor, so I try to make people aware when I can.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:27 AM on September 5, 2010


This is the last thing I'll post in this thread ... if anyone is still reading it. Came in pretty late ...

I don't know a single heavy drinker that is a happy or healthy person once they get to a certain age, and I have known many, many heavy drinkers throughout my life- or alcoholics, if you prefer. It's not the same age for everyone, but if someone drinks heavily for much of their life or just for many years, by the age of 50 the facade is wearing pretty thin for those who can still hold it up. If someone drinks heavily for many years, there's a very high chance that a good portion of it is going to be miserable, and that they will eventually die from health issues related to drinking. Such deaths happen agonizingly slowly as their life crumbles around them, long before they get sick of a disease like cirrhosis, kidney failure, throat cancer, etc.

Of course, there are exceptions. I remember watching Johnny Carson when he had on a 102 year-old guest, who smoked a pack of Marlboros a day and had since he was 18, and drank a few double martinis to go with it. Would you take the chance that the odds would favor you, like it did him? Because the odds heavily favor you ending up pretty sick for a long time and eventually dying from alcohol-related causes ( accidental death, etc.), often after having been abandoned by friends and family who have given up hope after years of trying.

All this is anecdotal, but it's so overwhelming after such a long time of my being exposed to it that I can't imagine I'm only seeing the exceptions that prove the rule.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:45 AM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


OK, one more ...

Doesn't everyone have an uncle who smoked eight packs a day and died running a marathon at 95? So I think that epidemiological research is interesting partly just in how it challenges our anecdotal view of the world.

I have a pretty big family due to marriage, and even counting all of them I can't think of any such example. FTR, my uncle on my mom's side smoked a couple packs a day and came damn close to dying of cancer recently because of it. He's already been through several induced comas because of breathing issues, each one taking him further into the light at the end of the tunnel. He's in his 60s, but his mother is 99 and still very much alive and kicking - she quit smoking back in the 1960s and rarely drinks. Oh, alcoholism almost destroyed my uncle's life before quitting that, too. He's on an oxygen tank permanently. He did make one last trip with his wife, a long cruise to many locations around the world, but it will be his last - do you know how difficult it is making international travel plans when you have to carry cumbersome medical equipment with you 24/7? His cancer is so advanced now that it's unlikely he'll live to 70. Seems like a ripe old age, possibly, but the family history suggests he's dying very young and would ordinarily live to 90-100.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:59 AM on September 5, 2010


life is not all unicorns shitting rainbows

Wouldn't it be interesting if some day we discover that life is, indeed, unicorns shitting rainbows? Huge unicorns shitting giant rainbows of billions of universes, and we're just along for the ride ...
posted by krinklyfig at 2:13 AM on September 5, 2010


However, this may be an indication that someone has a problem that they haven't dealt with, which in itself may be a red flag. I don't really like hanging out with such people, but please don't see this kind of thing as an indication of some character flaw. Addiction problems are not due to character, and the behavior is characteristic of the addiction. Yours is a common misconception, one I used to harbor, so I try to make people aware when I can.


It is indeed the issues they have not dealt with that are the cause of the red flags.
I do not read "acting different when inebriated" as a character flaw unto itself.

As an aside, most of my friends that do not drink had parents that were alcoholics.




I don't know a single heavy drinker that is a happy or healthy person once they get to a certain age, and I have known many, many heavy drinkers throughout my life- or alcoholics, if you prefer. It's not the same age for everyone, but if someone drinks heavily for much of their life or just for many years, by the age of 50 the facade is wearing pretty thin for those who can still hold it up. If someone drinks heavily for many years, there's a very high chance that a good portion of it is going to be miserable, and that they will eventually die from health issues related to drinking. Such deaths happen agonizingly slowly as their life crumbles around them, long before they get sick of a disease like cirrhosis, kidney failure, throat cancer, etc.

Thanks for those words, they definitely give me something to think about.
posted by Theta States at 6:58 AM on September 7, 2010


« Older So, I was looking for a version of "The first time...  |  Britain's longest running sitc... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments