TV presenter Adrian Chiles has urged people to monitor how much alcohol they are consuming after being ‘staggered’ to find out he was sometimes drinking up to 100 units per week.
The BBC 5 Live host is asking so-called social drinkers to ‘be honest with yourself for three weeks’ after being told by a doctor he was putting himself at serious risk of liver cirrhosis or death. The revelation about his own drinking came as he made a BBC documentary, aired on Bank Holiday Monday, exploring the line between social drinking and alcoholism.
Chiles, 51, who formerly presented The One Show and ITV’s Daybreak, said it was horrifying to tot up his own alcohol consumption and discover that some weeks he was drinking between 80 and 100 units. Although blood test results were normal, a scan revealed he had mild to moderate fibrosis of the liver and was told he couldn’t carry on drinking that amount without putting himself at risk of disease progression to cirrhosis, liver disease and failure and even death.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Chiles said: "An idea of an alcoholic is someone who drinks sherry in the morning, wakes up in doorways, fights, is ill and all the rest of it. Most of us see those documentaries about people like that and think, oh, that’s not me, I’m alright - but, in fact, in the middle, there’s loads of us who just drink too much and I wondered why I was so dependent on it in a small way - or is it a big way?”
Chiles called most of his drinking ‘mundane and harmless’, saying "I don't really get drunk, I don't misbehave, I don't drink during the day, I don't drink alone, I don't particularly stay up late.” But he added that he drank something every day unless he was presenting in the evening, and that people like him - the ‘constant drinkers, the toppers-up’ - are the problem.
Health guidelines advise men and women to drink no more than 14 units per week - the equivalent of six pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine. The NHS also recommends several alcohol-free days each week and that alcohol units should be spaced out, not all consumed in one session.
Alcohol Concern has a handy app to calculate the amount of units you drink, while you can also get help to reduce your alcohol intake at Drink Aware. Drinkers Like Us is due to be broadcast on BBC2 on Monday at 9pm and will be available afterwards on iPlayer.