Ten grand - the cost of iPhone-induced sobriety
There's an app for that
The NHS spent ten thousand pounds developing the mobile version of its sobriety-inducing application, Drinks Tracker for iTunes.
The application is part of the government's seasonal campaign to get us to drink less - on which they have already spent £9 million of our cash - but it took a Freedom of Information request to break out the mobile application details.
The response bundles the cost with other mobile versions, and points out that 35,000 people have downloaded the app, before admitting that it cost ten grand to develop. That's not an unreasonable sum, assuming you accept that we need an iPhone application to cut down binge drinking.
The application, which we covered last month, asks the user how much they've had to drink, and expects them to enter the alcoholic content of their drinks - something we suggested might be beyond the wit of the average inebriated iPhone user.
But even worse is the desktop application, which we installed in the interests of research and has been greeting us every morning with questions about how much we've drunk the previous night - a bit like a nagging partner only without the benefits. ®
Badge of honour?
Can the app upload your score to a central high-score board? Otherwise, what's the point?
If this thing could monitor your alcohol intake and stop you from drunk-dialing your ex, well then you would have a winning application!
You're all wrong.
I'm one of the 35,000 who downloaded the app - just for interest mind, and to my surprise I've found it useful.
On using it, I was immediately surprised at how many more units I was really drinking compared to my estimated units. Some of the rather nice "niche" beers with alcohol rates of 6% or above can register 4 units (or more) per measure depending on the serving size. It was the same with new world wines - 14% wines drunk in "medium" servings come in at 3 units.
Having used the application for only 2 weeks, my drinking behaviour has already changed. Seeing that just 6 pints of decent beer in one night represents a whole week of "safe drinking" has made me:
- drink strong beer less frequently
- switch to smaller servings
- drink less volume overall
Quite a lot of the people I've shown it to have been similarly surprised at how strong their drinks really are.
For a £10K investment to be fully recovered over the 7 -8 year time frame the NHS uses would require less than one A&E visit a month to be avoided which assuming the application continues to be downloaded represents a pretty good investment.
Oh dear. Either you're a party activist or there are actually poor sods out there who think that "alcohol units" mean anything other than fuck-all.
The idea of 'safe drinking' is, frankly, dangerous nonsense. Alcohol is toxic. It doesn't magically turn toxic after the third pint - one small glass of wine is still one small glass of poison. However, your body is resilient and self-repairing, which means that it can cope with a certain amount. How much it can cope with depends on your height, weight, previous drinking and the luck of the genes tombola. It's up to the individual not to poison themselves to the extent it becomes a problem which spills over into other areas in life.
Universal limits are meaningless, and, in fact, one of the scientists that was paid to come up with those limits actually admitted some months ago that they plucked the figures out of thin air.
There are many good reasons to decrease your alcohol consumption - e.g. if you wake up feeling like shit on a regular basis, or have a tendency to hit people, forget where your house is, or do other things under the influence that you later regret, or if you're putting on weight. But believing that you're endangering yourself by drinking more than some invented government figures is senseless. These are people, remember, who believe that marijuana and ecstacy are more dangerous than alcohol, when it is a straightforward chemical fact that they are not. Choosing to believe what such people say is a form of mental illness.
Well, if you've made it in the following morning, then the answer to the 'how much did you drink last night' question is clearly 'not enough'.