Broadcaster Adrian Chiles does not consider himself to be dependent on alcohol. But he is sure he has a problem. In a new BBC documentary, Drinkers Like Me, Adrian explores his relationship with alcohol and what it means for his health. He joined Ray D’Arcy to talk about self-reflection, labels and audience reaction to the programme.
The genesis for the whole thing, Adrian explained, was a sign outside a train station.
“It was a big billboard and there was a park bench and it said: ‘Just because you don’t sleep on one of these, doesn’t mean you’re not an alcoholic’. And that sort of gave me food for thought.”
That food for thought turned into a filming schedule and on the first day, Adrian was asked to estimate his average weekly alcohol consumption. He told Ray that he had “sort of never counted” his intake before. He didn’t think his kind of drinking qualified.
“My kind of drinking is just mundane. There’s nothing to film. I don’t drink during the day. I don’t get drunk. I have a couple of pints with my mates… All programmes about alcoholics or alcoholism that you see are people waking up on park benches and fighting and blue lights.”
Totting up his average number of drinks was eye-opening, Adrian says. He realised he had consumed 34 units in a single day, throwing him into triple figures over the course of the week. The problem was not getting drunk, he explained, but drinking often. A session with a liver specialist resulted in Adrian learning that he had “light to moderate fibrosis” of the liver.
“I have a problem…There’s strong evidence that drinking more than 14 units a week is damaging your health. So, I think I’ve got less of an emotional problem with it. It’s not affecting my life. I’m not waking up with strangers. I’m not fighting anybody. I don’t think it affects my work particularly. So, it’s not a problem in that sense…it is a health problem.”
Adrian hopes that by drawing attention to people who drink like he does, it might spur others to take a look at their routines.
“It’s kind of no conciliation to say, well I have [a problem] but so does everybody else. The trouble is everybody’s looking at everybody else…End result, nobody does anything about it.”
Listen back to the full discussion on The Ray D’Arcy Show here.
If you are concerned about your drinking habits, the HSE’s Alcohol Helpline number is 1800 459 459 and their email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit askaboutalcohol.ie.
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