Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Type of Drinker Are You?

U.K health officials classify problem drinkers.

In an effort to combat problem drinking with “social marketing techniques,” the British Department of Health has released a study purporting to break down heavy drinkers into 9 distinct personality types, according to the U.K. Guardian.

British Department of Health researchers performed the studies at the behest of the National Health Service, which says that alcohol-related illnesses cost England almost $5 billion each year. It was unclear what criteria were used to identify and define the nine types.

BBC news quoted Health Minister Dawn Primarolo on the findings: "This will be a tough one to crack. Research found many positive associations with alcohol among the general public - even more so among those drinking at higher-risk levels. For these people alcohol is embedded in their identity and lifestyle: so much so that challenging this behaviour results in high levels of defensiveness, rejection or even outright denial."

The idea behind the investigation is to identify the social and psychological characteristics of problem drinkers “in an attempt to devise more effective public health campaigns to encourage safer use of alcohol.”


1) Depressed drinker:
Life in a state of crisis. Alcohol as self-medication, comforter. Any sex, all age groups.

2) De-stress drinker:
Stressful job and/or home life. Alcohol as relaxation, dividing line between work and personal life. Middle class men and women.

3) Re-bonding drinker:
People with a crammed calendar. Alcohol as “shared connector,” a means of keeping close to others.

4) Conformist drinker:
Traditonalist drinker. Alcohol as “me time,” the pub as second home, a sense of belonging. Typically middle-aged men in blue-collar or clerical jobs.

5) Community drinker:
Alcohol as social network, a sense of safety and security. Lower middle class men and women who drink in large social groups.

6) Boredom drinker:
Alcohol as stimulation, comfort in isolation. Often single moms or recent divorcees.

7) Macho drinker:
Alpha males, drinking as an assertion of masculinity, alcohol as a competition.

8) Hedonistic drinker:
Excessive drinking as an assertion of independence, freedom, release from inhibitions. Often single or divorced men or women, or older drinkers with grown children.

9) Border dependents:
Alcohol as a defense against the need to conform, and a general sense of malaise. Typically men for whom the pub is “home.”

The research was done as part of a renewed effort to to crack down on heavy drinkers. A pilot program will be undertaken over the coming months to target heavy drinkers. More than 900,000 households will be mailed information highlighting the link between drinking and conditions such as cancer and liver disease.

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