To investigate the practical effects of these new targets, the writer goes on a Morgan Spurlock-type mission over the space of four weeks: 'drinking at the upper range of 45 units a week to find out what (if anything) happened to my liver, my heart and various other organs.'
'It was a great surprise,' he writes, 'to find how easy it is to neck more than double the government maximum. One fairly tame weekend, a few glasses of midweek wine and a pub quiz and, bang, I'm a hazardous drinker. Without a single hangover.'
The results are rather surprising. 'Four weeks of what I think is civilised drinking did have an effect on my liver function. But none of the laboratory results was even close to being a problem... Having diligently measured my alcohol consumption over a month, I can now confirm that I must have been drinking not far off 40 units a week for the past 15 years. Yet, after only a few weeks off the sauce, my internal organs were fighting fit.'
Now have a look at the John Hopkins survey. Just as the government seems to want to turn us all into 'hazardous drinkers', so too, it seems, psychiatry wants as many of us as possible to believe we are 'in all likelihood an alcoholic.' Not that this develop should surprise us; it was in 1946 that the founding father of the Tavistock Institute for Human Relations, Major John Rawlings Reese, called for the creation of 'psychological shock troops' who, in the words of Jim Keith, 'would fan out... to engineer the future direction of society.' And since that time, the Institute has sought to apply what it describes as 'dynamic psychiatry' to as large a section of the population as possible. Is this 'survey' another manifestation of that dream? Come back on Tuesday morning and tell me how many of these questions do not apply to you.
Do you drink because you are shy with other people?
Have you ever felt remorse after drinking?
Do you find yourself in bad company or in a bad environment when drinking?
Do you drink alone?
Have you ever had a complete loss of memory as a result of drinking?
Do you drink to build up your self-confidence?
These are a small selection of the 20 questions asked. The smallprint advises that: 'If you have answered YES to three or more, you are in all likelihood an alcoholic.'
To which, what can I add, except: Happy Gregorian, everybody... Cheers!
'Sometimes I see