Affecting mainly self-loathing, middle-class fortysomethings whose boozy excesses during the festive season have led them to taking a ‘dry’ January, so-called ‘binge abstinence’ has side-effects which often prove fatal.
Dr. Kate Thompson from Guys Hospital Accident and Emergency Unit says, ‘Since about the 3rd of January, we’ve been under huge pressure every night. We’re dealing with wave after wave of men who are simply unaccustomed to dealing with the grinding monotony of their two free hours an evening sober.’
Forty-year-old Mark Charlesworth from Chester describes what happened to him during his bout of binge abstinence: ‘After getting home from work, putting the kids to bed and eating my dinner I had precisely 120 minutes to fill before turning in for the night. It felt more like 120 years. I tried everything: reading a book, watching telly – I even spoke to my wife. I actually felt my heart slowing down as I wandered from room to room staring blankly at the walls. Just as I was slipping into a coma I found myself fantasising about taking a trip to IKEA. That’s when I reached for the dregs of the bottle of cooking sherry. It saved my life.’
But lucky escapes like Charlesworth’s are rare. Even those who do make it to February physically intact can suffer lasting mental damage. Hundreds of binge abstainers experience feelings of emptiness and dissatisfaction following 31 days of guzzling non-alcoholic lagers. Psychiatrists are warning the ‘Becks Blues’ are a mental health ticking time bomb.