Online Survey: Problem Drinking from Social Angle

Dr Adam Winstock was having a conversation with his teenage nieces when he discovered something startling: they were less worried about the financial and physical ramifications of excessive drinking and more worried about embarrassing themselves while under the influence. After coming to terms with his discovery, he was inspired to develop a new online survey designed to address problem drinking from a social angle.

Winstock, who is also the founder of the Global Drug Survey, told The Telegraph that people begin running into problems when their actions as drunks intersect with their normal lives when sober. For example, a worker may come to the realisation that he or she has been passed over for promotion because an immediate supervisor witnessed some fairly embarrassing behaviour during last year’s drunken Christmas party.

The idea of the survey is to encourage people to confront their drinking habits and the behaviours they engage in while under the influence of alcohol. It is a 20-question multiple-choice survey that the drinker is urged to take and then share with friends, so that they can answer the same questions about the individual. The views expressed by those friends will either confirm the individual’s suspicions about him or herself or portray a completely different picture. Winstock believes that some people will be embarrassed enough by the results to make some changes in their drinking habits.

To underscore how embarrassing drunkenness can be, the survey has been designed to provide what is known as the ‘Alcohol Related Social Embarrassment’ score upon completion. Every person who takes the survey will quickly know what his or her friends think about them and their drinking habits. The Telegraph reports some 70,000 people across Europe have already taken the survey.

Whatever It Takes

Some may look at Winstock’s survey and assume it a distraction and a waste of time. However, others, and we include ourselves here, see it as yet another avenue to address the problem of excessive drinking among youth. There are those among us who believe that we have a serious drinking problem in the UK that needs to be addressed by whatever means is necessary to change things. If a survey of this nature can get the attention of young people, it is something worth utilising.

What we find surprising is that no one has thought of the social embarrassment angle before. After all, if there is one thing we know about young people it is the fact that they do not like to be embarrassed among their peers. It is for this very reason that some of them engage in the questionable activities that end up coming back to haunt them later on.

For decades, we have been talking about how peer pressure encourages young people to drink and take drugs. So does it not stand to reason that the same principle could be used in the other direction? Of course. Young people concerned about how others view them could be persuaded to cut down on their drinking if they were made to realise how their peers view them as drunks.

Get Help for Alcohol

Dr Winstock’s Alcohol Related Social Embarrassment survey is still too new to draw any conclusions. While we await the publication of his data, we encourage young people to closely monitor their own drinking habits. Those who suspect they might already have a drinking problem should reach out for help. Addiction Helper is a good place to start.

We offer free advice, treatment referrals, and evaluations to anyone struggling with drugs or alcohol. To get help, simply call our 24-hour addiction recovery helpline. Counsellors are standing by to help you fight alcohol addiction. Alcohol help is available, seek help before it’s too late.


  1. The Telegraph –
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