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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2008, 10:40 GMT
'I just couldn't stop drinking'
Social drinking can be a major problem
Middle class men and women are drinking more than those lower down the socio-economic scale, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics.

Men and women with managerial jobs were the most likely to have drunk alcohol in the previous week, says the survey.

The findings of the survey will ring true for Christina, a married professional.

In the end you need to drink to peel potatoes, dial a telephone number even

Christina - who does not want to give her full name - a lawyer and mother of two, is all too familiar with the perils of social drinking.

She is now 50, but her drinking started to get out of control when she was in her early 30s.

She had joined a social running club with her husband and used to go for drinks with friends after the run.

To begin with her drinking increased without her realising - but it rapidly became more important than anything else.

It also became a way to cope with a job that was becoming increasingly stressful.

"I was drinking at lunch time to help me cope with stressful clients in the afternoon, and I was waking up hung over, which increased the stress," she said.

The main thing that convinced me I was an alcoholic was when I tried to stop drinking and I couldn't

The problem escalated to a stage where she was drinking at least a bottle of wine a day, was suffering memory loss and black outs, and was trying to hide the true extent of the situation from her husband.

She had to resort to looking at the Radio Times in the morning to find out what she had watched the previous night.

"In the end you need to drink to peel potatoes, dial a telephone number even. You need to drink for anxiety, for everything," she said.

Severe pain

At the age of 39 Christina began to have severe abdominal pain. Initially it was diagnosed as gall stones.

But by the age of 45, following an appointment with a new gastroenterologist, she was diagnosed with pancreatitis caused by alcohol abuse, gastric varices - dilated veins in the stomach which can be a life threatening cause of upper gastrointestinal bleeding - a severe fatty liver, and alcohol dependency syndrome.

At that stage she had been drinking a bottle of vodka everyday, and she had also lost her job after being caught drinking in the office - a huge blow to her pride.

But even at that point Christina still could not believe she was an alcoholic.

"The main thing that convinced me I was an alcoholic was when I tried to stop drinking and I couldn't," she said.

Society seems to have lost the ability to socialise without alcohol
Martin, UK

"The thought of dying of pancreatitis, the loss of my job, and the fear of losing my marriage motivated me," she added.

Christina went to her first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in January 2003, after half a bottle of vodka to help her with the nerves.

"The great thing about it was I could see people in the meetings that were well. They were living examples of what I could be. So I copied them."

Christina is still sober, still married, and back doing law.

Men 'drink far more than women'
22 Jan 08 |  Health

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