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John Humphrys signs off his final episode of R4 Today

The Welsh game show host was “on the verge of becoming an alcoholic”, accustomed to liquid lunches in his early career. Thankfully, John Humphrys saw the error in his ways. “I would have a couple of Martinis before lunch, a bottle of wine with lunch, advair discount a brandy and a cigar after lunch,” he said. Reflecting on his 20s and 30s, John would then “come back to the office, crack open a bottle of wine and carry on drinking”.

In a candid interview with The Daily Telegraph, he said: “I got hugely fat and was on the verge of becoming an alcoholic.”

Both his grandfather and uncle had died of alcoholism, but it was only when a friend pulled him to the side that John took notice.

“I wouldn’t be here if I had carried on drinking,” he reflected.

At 32, John decided to stay away from alcohol; now at 77 years old, John will “have the occasional couple of pints of bitter, but that’s it”.

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The dangers of alcoholism

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said: “Excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases.”

Some issues include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Digestive problems
  • Cancers
  • Weakened immune system
  • Dementia risk
  • Mental health issues
  • Alcohol dependence

DrinkAware described alcoholism as “a strong, often uncontrollable, desire to drink”.

It may be difficult to address a drinking problem as alcoholics “can be secretive” about their drinking.

People with an addiction to alcohol can also “become angry if confronted”.

Alcoholism may result in the person losing interest in normal activities.

The person may appear intoxicated more often, and may need to drink more to get the same effects.

A person suffering from alcohol dependence may also appear to be tired, unwell or irritable.

The first step in treating alcoholism is acknowledging there is a problem.

If you’d like support, you can reach out to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) on their free helpline on 0800 9177 650.

A doctor can officially diagnose alcoholism if three or more of the following signs have been present together in the past year:

  • An overwhelming desire to drink
  • An inability to stop or to control harmful drinking
  • Withdrawal symptoms when stopping drinking
  • Evidence of alcohol tolerance
  • Pursuing the consumption of alcohol to the exclusion of alternative pleasures
  • Continuing to drink despite clear evidence of harmful consequences

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms might include: hand tremors, sweating, nausea, visual hallucinations and/or seizures.

Psychological withdrawal may include: depression, anxiety, irritability, restlessness and insomnia.

Anyone who has decided to stop drinking and then experiences vomiting, severe shaking or hallucinations/confusion need to tell their GP right away.

“If you‘re experiencing withdrawal symptoms, it’s a sign that you are becoming physically dependent on alcohol,” warned the charity.

Anyone suffering from withdrawal symptoms will need medical supervision to help reduce to stop their problematic drinking.

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