back to article Dealing with the pandemic by drinking and swearing? Boffins say you're not alone

The impact of lockdowns during a global pandemic appears to be making itself known in a variety of ways – subtle and otherwise – including increased drinking and swearing. Or, as we like to call it, "the weekend". There's no denying that the pandemic has been tough, and the IT industry was far from immune. We've seen numerous …

  1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

    I would be interested to know what actually constitutes 'problematic drinking'.

    As the government is only interested in patronising nonsense like "no safe level" and "14 units/week for both men and women", it's not as if they can be trusted. It feels like alcohol is getting the "five a day" / "10,000 steps" treatment - an aspirational target rather than a science based figure.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      There is no safe level.

      Methinks someone's in denial.

      1. teknopaul

        re: no safe level

        This has been disproved time and time again.

        a bottle per person is safe, two is not.

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: re: no safe level

          Interestingly, the high-quality high-validity research is unusually consistent, and says you're spot on.

          A bottle of wine a day is the break-even point for drinkers having the same expected lifespan as teetotallers.

          Drinkers' expected lifespan increases with #Units/Day until peaking/maximising at 6-7, declining again after that, but now monotonically, crossing the Teetotallers' axis/baseline somewhere between 13 and 14 Units/Day.

          To put it another way:

          Drinkers live longer than non-drinkers, as long as they drink less than 14 units of alcohol a day.

          Most EUK wines are less than that per bottle.

          So you'll live longest if you split a bottle of wine every day.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: re: no safe level

            The research I've seen does seem to support that.

            Unfortunately, I can't stand the stuff, personally, so I'll have to continue to eat properly and get moderate exercise to prolong my lifespan.

            Swearing a great deal and drinking vast quantities of coffee also seem to help. I mean, I may not live any longer, but I'll enjoy it more.

    2. the Jim bloke

      I would be interested to know what actually constitutes 'problematic drinking'.

      Drinking more than your doctor

      1. A Nother Handle

        My doctor is the late Graham Chapman so I'm fine.

  2. Fabrizio

    The 5 rules of problematic drinking

    1. You drink every day

    2. Once a week, you feel a need to drink.

    3. You don't mind drinking out of the wrong container. (Whiskey in a tea cup, straight out of the bottle, wine in a water glass, ...)

    4. You drink more than 13 units of alcohol per week.

    5. You can't go without drinking for at least one month per year.

    If you got 3 or more out of 5, you're a problematic drinker.

    If you've got 5 out if 5, you're an alcoholic.

    P.S. Don't down-vote the messenger: change your behaviour instead.;P

    P.P.S. I stopped drinking out of the wrong container when my doctor told me this, so I'm safe again! >:-)

    1. Swarthy

      Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

      Does drinking coffee out of the carafe satisfy #3? If so, I may be a problematic coffee drinker. The only one I don't hit there is #4.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

        A pot of coffee is "12 units" or that'd be my guess. I wonder what a quad cappuccino qualifies as? [my daily breakfast]

        84 units of coffee a week - heh

    2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

      Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking


      14 units is 6 pints of average strength beer.

      That's absolute nonsense.

      That every day might be considered potentially problematic, but every week? Come on now.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: rule nr. 4

        a single glass of wine per day represents more than 14 'units' of alcohol per week.... yeah, that's bollocks.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: rule nr. 4

          Depends on the size of your glass and the strength of your wine. Both of these have been trending upwards (in average) for many years, and are now about 50% higher than the average levels when I was a kid. (Which, compounded, means "a glass of wine" contains more than twice as much alcohol as it did.)

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: rule nr. 4

            "Depends on the size of your glass"

            I remember the old days when you could buy a glass of wine in a bar and there's be about 5 glasses per bottle. That's about the same as the glasses we use at home. These days, it seems the glasses in the pubs are so large, if you order two glasses of wine, they give you the bottle because there's barely a 1/2 glass left in it.

            So, the question is, what do these figures mean when they talk about a "glass" of wine.

            1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

              Re: rule nr. 4

              It's one standard measure of wine which is 125ml, isn't it?

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: rule nr. 4

                Damn! you made me look it up!

                125ml, 175ml and 250ml size servings are the standard pub measures. B y law, they must offer all three, but it's rare for anyone to ask for a "small", ie a 125ml serving, most are medium or large. I must admit to not remembering seeing anything other than large served in pubs or pub/restaurants.

                Based on that, 125ml may not be "standard", I'd expect "standard" to be medium, but it does seem as though the Govt. recommendation is based on a small, 125ml glass, which is approx. 1.5 units, depending on alcohol content. The size usually sold in pubs is likely to be at least 3 units per glass and a bottle is gone in 3 glasses, 3/5th of a weekly allowance :-)

      2. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

        Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

        In the '80s and early '90s there were far fewer cirrhosis patients in extremis. Men in UK regularly drank 4pints in a night at pubs and hence exceeded the current 'maximum' - and had do e so for many years.

        Something changed in the 90s. From observation, nutrition in 'drinkers' went downhill in quality; large volunes of cheap vodka (l1.5-2 LITRES per day mixed with 9% "cider" ("White Lightening") became the usual history.

        Simple "units" is not the full story here. There's much more going on but "units/week" is an easy message to push

        1. mevets

          Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

          I would expect that a daily dose of 1.5 - 2L of vodka would result in something more dramatic than a reduction in the quality of nutrition. Perhaps a significant reduction in the quantity of oxygen.

        2. Roj Blake Silver badge

          Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

          Could it be that in the 80s and 90s people who were going down the pub were dying of lung cancer before the cirrhosis became a problem?

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

      I got 1, 4 and 5 nailed down, but am still working on 2 and 3. Does it count as medicinal if it settles my digestion and makes tolerable the 'old age' symptoms?

    4. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

      Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

      Guinness bottles instruct you to "enjoy it straight from the bottle" Are they trying to turn us all into alcoholics?

      These sneaky Irish...

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

        No, that means the bottle is added to the list of "appropriate" containers - but only for Guinness.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

          In the US in most bars if you order beer that comes in a bottle, they open the bottle and give it to you. No glass. You generally get a glass with your bottle of beer in a restaurant, I guess because it is considered rude to drink straight out of a bottle while eating with others?

          In bars people overwhelmingly drink straight out of the bottle or can. Regardless of whether it is Guinness, Bud Light, an IPA, or whatever.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

            Heathens! Although I suppose it helps the bar owners profit margin if there's no glasses to buy, wash or get broken.

            1. DS999 Silver badge

              Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

              There are plenty glasses to buy, wash and get broken - you get a glass when you order a pint just not when you order a bottle. Most places sell a lot more draft volume than bottles/cans, though bottles and cans sell heavily in two segments - mass produced US beer like Bud Light etc. and niche craft/foreign beers where they won't do enough volume to devote a tap line to it (or will sell so slowly the beer would go bad before the keg was empty)

              Some small craft brewers don't even offer kegs or bottles, your only choice is a can.

          2. Shooter

            Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

            In my experience, beer in a glass tends to go flat more quickly. But I'm not really a quick beer drinker.

            At least, not after the first five or six.

    5. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

      13 units is fuck all - about 4 pints (depending on alcohol strength)

      In what mutant definition of the world is 4 pints a week an issue / alcoholism?

      Back before COVID, I would do a weekly pub quiz - my one night out in a pub all week & typically have 4 pints. Does not exactly make me a problem drinker..

      .. Indeed, as someone who drinks very little (so no "tolerance" built up) , got a real buzz from a 4 pint session

      BTW, as someone non posh, what's all this "wine in a water glass" thing? To me a glass is a glass - I might say X is a wineglass, just based on its size i.e. small, but WTAF makes a glass a "water glass"?

      Yes, not "safe", but everything has risk, though my riskiest activities statistically, based on time I spend on them are road use (as pedestrian, cyclist, car driver & passenger - road use role varies), followed by gardening / DIY / household tasks.

    6. big_D Silver badge

      Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

      Yes, but it was a urine bottle. ;-)

    7. ozretrocomp

      Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

      For us Aussies, this means drinking goon straight out of the sack is perfectly acceptable.

    8. hayzoos

      Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

      1. Check.

      2. Nope.

      3. There is no wrong container, try again.

      4. By my definition, 7-12 units a week, good here.

      5. I could, but why?

      I just don't see these criteria as a good measure.

      Shall we ask the Scots, or Irish, or Germans, or Polish, or Russians? We may appear to be lightweights in their measure.

    9. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: The 5 rules of problematic drinking

      I don't drink alcoholic beverages, but #3 looks like utter rot to me. I'd like to see a citation of methodologically-sound research supporting it.

      For several years (until I moved in with my now wife, in fact) the only drinking vessels I had in my home were mugs. No reason to have anything else. They're durable, convenient, and work for hot or cold beverages.

  3. AndrueC Silver badge

    I need a f*cking drink.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Me too! I'm sick of these lazy bastards and their cheap shitty fucking surveys masquerading as fucking research. Cunts!

  4. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    rein in their language in the presence of children?

    My 10 year old granddaughter swears much more often than I do.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: rein in their language in the presence of children?

      Well, you can't regulate every influence on your kids, and much less so on grandkids. But you can set an example.

    2. Falmari Silver badge

      Re: rein in their language in the presence of children?

      @Neil Barnes "My 10 year old granddaughter swears much more often than I do."

      You should hang your head in shame.

      No way would I let a bloody 10 year old out swear me. :)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A potted history if 14 units alcohol/week

    In my previous life I worked in a large university hospital trust in the UK

    Specifically in ITU.

    We regularly had 'decompensated' alcoholics in for resus/post 'banding' (= sealing) bleeding oesophgeal varices (result of livee cirrhosis)

    The 'Liver' team from Gastro were headed by a professor prominent in UK circles re matters in alcohol use.

    At one of the 'Liver' team visits to review a post-banding patient during ITU ward round. ITU consultant asked where the '21 units came from.

    Prof said that at a committe meeting of like specialists, they volunteered their weekly consumption - in essence 1 bottle of wine with wife at night and perhaps a short or two over the week. "comes to 42 units between 2 people and none of ua had cirrhosis so that was the safe level and then we looked for confirmatory evidence"

    ITU consultant: "Er, OK then"

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: A potted history if 14 units alcohol/week

      Unfortunately, evidence is not enough to suggest whether there was any truth in the story, or whether he simply made it up. Maybe the professor was fed up with arbitrary limits too, and the story was a way of venting that frustration.

  6. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge


    Maybe people are thinking that "sanitiser" means "to make one more sane", rather than to disinfect.

    The way shops leave dispensers of the stuff everywhere you go, I suspect any cheapskate (and yes I'm talking bedrock cheapskate here) that gets their kicks from the stuff does a swap with a full bottle every time they go there.

    The swearing can be attributed to buying fragrance-scented sanitiser by mistake, rather than the industrial stuff.

    1. Giles C Silver badge

      Re: Sanitiser

      Is that why the supermarkets have taken to attaching the bottles with a chain recently?

      Not that it would bother me as I don’t drink alcohol at all.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    While lockdown related, i've found my drinking/swearing has gone up more due to being at home with the kids 24/7 rather than being stuck at home.

  8. AdamWill

    Am I drinking and swearing?

    You betcha!

    To deal with the pandemic?

    ...uh, sure, yeah, that as well, I guess...

  9. Danny 2

    Bar none

    I want to outlive my parents but I don't want to live to their age so my drinking isn't a problem, for me at least. Frankly I think I have a moral claim to a refund on all the punitive taxes I've paid on cigarettes and alcohol because I won't be a burden to the state in my dotage. If you want me to drink less then legalise cannabis, I drank 75% less in the Netherlands. Keep your laws off my body. If you want to class me as an addict then fine, give me a free prescription for whisky but stop the finger wagging judgemental exploitation.

    As for swearing, watch this video at 5m30 seconds. A wee angelic lass drinking in an Aberdeen bar is asked what she thinks of Trump. Swearing is not rude in Scotland.

    I made a point of swearing in French for a French lover and she slapped me hard. I said, "What? I always swear and you just laugh."

    "Swearing is funny in English, in French it is just rude."

    "But you love Brel and Gainsbourg and they swear all the time."

    "You are no Brel or Gainsbourg."

  10. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

    Drinking & Swearing

    My drinking and swearing has not changed during any of the lockdowns. I think being effectively isolated is why, for there is no reason to swear if there isnt anyone around and I can always find something to do other than drink myself into a stupor - I might want to but...

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