Healthy living

Brits drink alcohol to combat stress

alcohol Prefer it to talking with partner

Adults would rather relax with a glass of wine than spend time with their partner or children, a survey has revealed.

A poll of 825 people by the industry-funded charity Drinkaware found that stress was the main reason given by both men and women for having a drink at the end of the day.

When people were asked what they do to unwind at home, six out of ten respondents said they had a glass of wine, while only 28 per cent said spending time with their children helped them to unwind.

Only 26 per cent said they relaxed by talking with their partner.

More women (73%) than men (57%) reported stress as their top reason for drinking at the end of the day.

Nearly three quarters of women questioned said they had a glass of wine, while 6 out of ten said they had two or more large glasses of wine on a typical night – more than double the recommended daily alcohol intake for women.

Two thirds of men (64%) said they drank at least two pints of beer (around 4 units) on an average evening at home.

The findings also showed that we are more likely to reach for the bottle in response to a negative rather than a positive experience.

Among both sexes, 65 per cent said they drank after a stressful day and 53 per cent after a bad day at work, compared to just 15 per cent as a result of having a great day or 17 per cent having a good day at work.

Donna Dawson, a psychologist specialising in personality and behaviour, said: “When it comes to drinking alcohol, the way the human brain works means we are naturally disposed to find a reason to indulge, particularly if we’ve had a tough day.

"An example of this is having a drink or two at home after work as a way to unwind from stress – in this scenario, the brain has decided that stress is ‘bad’ for us, and that alcohol, because it apparently relieves stress, 'is good'.

“So, at the end of the day, we may know that the second or third glass of alcohol is not really needed or even desired, but the brain has already rationalised that if one glass felt good, then more will feel even better.

What we need to do is recognise this is faulty brain-reasoning at work and take more conscious control of ‘why’, ‘when’ and ‘how much’ we drink, as well as the health harms that alcohol can cause."

More than a third of those surveyed also said they thought they drank too much on at least two occasions every week.

This article was published on Mon 1 August 2011

Image © chiyacat -

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