'My drinks diary shock'

Patrick Greene

Patrick Greene didn’t see himself as a heavy drinker until he kept a drinks diary (PDF, 697kb) for a week. He says it was a wake-up call.

Track your drinking

"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 rosé.

"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's in a unit?

  • Pint of 4% lager: 2.3 units
  • 175ml glass of 13% wine: 2.3 units
  • 25ml glass of 40% single spirit and mixer: 1 unit

Units are a standard way to indicate the alcohol content of any given drink.

Percentages given in brackets refer to Alcohol by Volume (ABV) of stated drink.

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."

Page last reviewed: 24/10/2014

Next review due: 24/10/2016

Ratings

How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 54 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating

Comments

The 7 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

kjs1972 said on 06 November 2012

I never thought anything was wrong with drinking a bottle of wine when I'd had a hard day with the kids, but then I read a book recommended by a friend who'd given up drinking and realised that all those 'great benefits' I saw to drinking were a load of rubbish!

Hundreds of years of damaging and misleading advertising by the drinks industry (drugs pushers!) have made us think drinking alcohol is normal, necessary, cool & part of being grown up. It deludes us into thinking we're 'posh' if we drink fine wine or spirits. What rubbish. Remember your reaction to your first taste of alcohol as a child - yuck! It's a poison. Nothing more. And it's responsible for so much violence, crime & misery.

Ask yourself - can I enjoy my life without alcohol? No? Then you're addicted to it.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

JaseW said on 28 March 2010

I didn't realise how much I was drinking until I made a record of what and when. I thought I was a social drinker but after reading a week's list of entries I realised I was drinking more at home than socially and the total units surprised me.

The drink aware website has a really good <a href="http://www.drinkaware.co.uk/tips-and-tools/drink-diary/">unit calculator</a> that gives you an idea of what you're drinking.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Newdawn said on 10 February 2010

I've been suffering with depression for many years now and use(d) alcohol to try to help me cope - seems it was doing just the opposite!
I gave up smoking in 1996 (35+ per day man!). It wasn't easy but I've not smoked since.
I intend to give up drinking at midnight this Sunday (February 14th 2010) and although I know it won't be easy I feel sure that I WILL succeed!
Good on you Patrick for doing what you did - I hope things are still going well for you.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

cryptomech929 said on 13 January 2010

Nice to see something done in real language and not in units. I've always drunk too much (Forces mentality) but never really known what the background effects can be.
Patrick, you let me know it can be sorted out. Will have to cancel the weekly tanker

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

User122926 said on 23 January 2009

great article, it makes you realise how drinking alcohol has become a way of life, and although you know you are consuming too much, this article makes it hit home.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

johnny26113 said on 30 August 2008

well done Patrick and all the best . i am just starting

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

goodman said on 23 July 2008

This is a good article

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Services near you

Find addresses, phone numbers and websites for services near you

Drinks diary

How much are you drinking? Keep a drinks diary for a week to find out.

Drinks tracker for iPhone

Download this free iPhone app to help keep track of your drinking and to get advice

Download drinks tracker iPhone app

Cut down on alcohol

Don't let drink sneak up on you

Cutting down on alcohol doesn’t have to be hard. Use our simple drinks checker and get tips on ways to cut back.

Drinking and alcohol

Calculate your units, read about the health risks of drinking too much and find out where to get help and support