Yesterday I heard that a friend of mine - an extremely popular 'bon viveur' - had been diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis and told that he can never touch alcohol again.
I googled it.
It turns out that 70% of cases of chronic pancreatitis are caused by heavy drinking over a number of years. It's most commonly diagnosed in men aged 45-54. Between 2012 and 2013 over 35,000 people visited hospitals in England with the condition.
Yet again it strikes me that our years of partying are catching up with my generation, and that the mid forties are when it all seems to go horribly wrong.
But we, my friends, are lucky. Here is another bullet we've dodged. Chronic pancreatitis is no fun. It can't be cured, causes terrible pain and 30% of sufferers go on to develop diabetes. It can also lead to pancreatic cancer.
My friend was diagnosed at Christmas. Imagine. You're just getting stuck into the party season when BAM! You're told you've got to stop RIGHT THERE. Straight away. No passing Go. No collecting £200.
We, at least, had time to get used to quitting. We got to play all those silly games with the wine witch (I'll only drink at the weekend. I'll only drink one glass a day. I'll only drink beer. You know the ones).
We got to carry on proving to ourselves again and again that alcohol wasn't our friend any more before we had to say goodbye. In a way, we had it easy.
So how's my friend coping? Well, apparently, he's taken up smoking spliff.
(Before you rush out looking for some wacky baccy, remember - you'd only be swapping one witch for another. Don't even think about it.)
This got me thinking, what is it about us that makes us panic if we don't have a dimmer switch? Why is it that throughout history, all over the world, perfectly happy, sane, successful people have reached for alcohol, tobacco, opium, marijuana, sugar, gambling etcetera etcetera as a means of de-stressing. Tuning out. Winding down?
Perhaps when we stopped chasing hairy mammoths we needed another method of dealing with our adrenalin and cortisol levels?
In any case, today I feel lucky.
Lucky that I quit before (I hope) doing any major damage to my health. Lucky that I got to make a life changing decision when I was ready to make it. Lucky that I am the one in control. Lucky that, as a result, I'm dealing with the underlying issues rather than just swapping one problem for another.
Love to all you lucky, lucky people.