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'My drinks diary shock'

Article provided by NHS Choices

Patrick Greene didn't see himself as a heavy drinker until he kept a drinks diary for a week. He says it was a wake-up call.

"I was working from home and found that if I didn't go out in the evening I'd feel like I'd been cooped up all day," Patrick says.

"After doing the diary I went back to work at the company office so that I got the human contact I needed during the day."

Patrick's drinks diary

Read Patrick's diary to find out how much he was drinking in a typical week:

Day one: Wednesday

"Having drunk a couple of bottles of red wine last night I woke up about 5am, fairly dehydrated. Had supper with a friend at about 7pm. We shared two bottles of red wine and a bottle of sparkling mineral water."

Day two: Thursday

"Felt woolly-headed when I woke up at 8am. Drank two cups of decaf black coffee. Skipped lunch. Supper at a friend's house. We had a bottle of red wine and a bottle of mineral water."

Day three: Friday

"Woke up at 6am, thirsty and worrying about the business. At midday I met a friend at the pub and had a bottle of beer. We moved on to a restaurant for lunch, ate risotto and polished off a bottle of white wine.

"Took the train down to Gloucestershire for the weekend. Arrived at 10pm and went to the pub to meet a friend. We had a late supper and I drank two vodka tonics and two bottles of wine."

Day four: Saturday

"Woke up late, about 10am, with a dreadful headache. A couple of painkillers and three large glasses of water later, I went downstairs to have breakfast. Later, we sat in the garden for a picnic lunch and two lovely bottles of chilled ros´┐Ż.

"Drinks at the pub at 6pm: two white wine spritzers. A visit to a friend nearby continued with two bottles of beer, three bottles of 15-year-old red wine and a barbecue. Ended with a glass of dessert wine and a whisky and soda. Crawled to bed at 1am."

Day five: Sunday

"Slept pretty deeply and woke up at 9.45am. Feeling surprisingly well. Had a late lunch then an early pub visit with two small vodka tonics. Caught the train back to London, where I finished the weekend off with a bottle and a half of red wine."

Day six: Monday

"Dehydrated, tired and fuzzy-headed this morning. Lolled in bed from 7am till 9am then mustered up enough energy to start the day. Worked from home, so had a light lunch with a glass of white wine. Had a takeaway later with two bottles of beer."

Day seven: Tuesday

"Was feeling quite depressed when I woke at around 5am this morning. Got up and wrote a couple of emails then went back to bed until 8am. Had one bottle of beer with lunch. Finished the day by sharing a bottle of white wine."

What the experts say

Graeme Markwell and Dr Tom Bailey, public health experts in Wandsworth, where Patrick lives, say he was regularly binge drinking. A drink here and there quickly added up to 120 units a week, well over four times the recommended limit for regular drinking.

They say:
"On the surface Patrick's drinking appears very sociable, but this behaviour could be masking the signs of dependent drinking. Patrick may seem healthy, but the alcohol is already likely to be causing internal damage, which will affect him in the long term.

"His over-consumption of alcohol can lead to irreversible liver cirrhosis or hepatitis. It can also substantially increase the risk of mouth and throat cancers, as well as high blood pressure and heart problems.

"Heavy drinking is also strongly linked to anxiety and depression and can uncover a predisposition to a psychiatric disorder. The good news is that Patrick still has time to turn things around if he modifies his lifestyle."

Eight months later...

Patrick admits it took him another four months to really change. "I'd put on huge amounts of weight," he says. "I had breasts. Then, at a routine check, my doctor said my liver was on the border of being unhealthy.

"I began to realise I wasn't functioning that well. I was getting depressed and I think that was connected to alcohol. It makes you moody, morose and introspective. I was forgetting things. I'd started on a new project and it was slipping away from me. I wasn't on top of it.

"So I cut down my drinking dramatically, and started going to the gym four times a week. I started using my bicycle and cycling to work and to places where I'd previously drive. I've lost four kilograms. My breasts will become muscle at this rate!

"Now I limit myself to two glasses of red wine a night, have alcohol-free nights and never drink at lunchtime.

"My work rate is higher and I'm a bit more organised. My mood is much better and it's great not feeling dreadful the next day."

Article provided by NHS Choices

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