1. Keep your organs unpickled
“Livers are important,” says Hugh Laurie’s character in House. “You can’t live without them, hence the name.” Excess drink can have serious, negatives effect on your long-term health, damaging the liver, pancreas and other useful organs. And the statement “small amounts of alcohol are thought to have potential benefits in reducing the risk of heart disease in certain groups of people” carries less gravitas when said whilst lying on your back on the floor.
2. Lose pounds
Ever heard anybody bemoaning the size of their ‘water gut’? The exact relationship between alcohol and weight is complex, but a pint (UK measure – 568ml) of beer contains a similar number of calories as a bar of chocolate. Drink less and you could end up exploring undiscovered realms in the notch region of your belt.
3. Gain pounds
Drinking wine with a meal can more than double the total cost, and a night out on the town can make your wallet uncomfortably easy to fold. Okay, so the cost of a soft drink can also cause a minor choking incident in some places, but then when was the last time you had six pints of lemonade?
Get this – when the night’s done, you can just get in your car and go. Admittedly, this may make you the group chauffeur, and if you’d wanted a job guiding a herd of noisy animals back to base, you’d have taken a job as a shepherd. And you’ll also lose the excitement of which bed/sofa/gutter your autopilot will take you.
5. Total recall
Blackouts are best left to wars. It’s great to wake up and simply remember what you did, rather than reconstruct your memory piecemeal from friends’ stories. But if you really want to relive a series of harrowing events via cliff-hanger instalments, you can always hire an old series of 24.
6. Maintain your decorum
You may have seen the footage of British drunkards collapsed in the street with their skirts up round their waist and their knickers on full show. No self-respecting gentleman wants to end up looking like that. On the downside, if you don’t drink, bruises will never have the same sense of mystery.
7. Be the sharpest tool in the box
Alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system, slowing down the speed you think, move and tell vague acquaintances you love them. If the Road Runner was a drinker, Wile E Coyote would have good cause for getting his apron on and flicking through game recipes.
8. Reclaim the day after
Studies have shown that alcohol can affect the quality of your sleep. Personal experience has shown that hangovers are bloody awful and that a heavy night out can wipe out the next day, too. If you want to live a little, go out and get plastered. If you want to live a lot, stick to the orange juice.
9. Be yourself
Mr Clever becomes Mr Arrogant Know-it-all, Gentle Ben is like a bear with a sore head and even Minnie Mouse has been known to develop an ugly sneer. Alcohol can really bring out the worst in people, even Superman. Although I bet his drinking stories rock.
10. Raise your standards
Ever heard of lemonade goggles? Us neither. Too much alcohol the night before and you might need another stiff drink in the morning when you see who you’ve woken up next to. And another one for the clout on the head when you call them ‘thingio’.
(1,2 NHS Know Your Limits campaign)
(3 Chocolate / beer – Drinkaware Trust)
(4 NHS Know Your Limits campaign)
(5 studies by the NIAAA)
A version of this article appeared in Healthy for Men, Jan 2009.