Alcohol Use Disorders (127) Communicating the benefits of abstinence versus light/moderate drinking

7 March, 2024

Dear All,

This discussion is turning out to be one of the most interesting on HIFA. [*see note below]

The confusion is not only on the definition of how much to drink safely, which Neil has highlighted, confusion extends to whether non-drinkers die earlier than moderate drinkers!. When a study asked, ‘Why Do Moderate Drinkers Live Longer Than Abstainers? Or ‘Do teetotallers live longer than light drinkers?, one gets answers that say, 'moderate drinkers live longer than lifetime teetotallers'. “The evidence from cancer research gives a different impression, with even light to moderate alcohol consumption linked increased risks of cancer. ( › articles › 199398). That is the public is being told that abstaining from drinking is means they might die earlier than if they consumed moderate level alcohol?

It gets worse when the public is told emphatically that ‘’Teetotallers ‘die sooner’ than those who have the odd drink’’. (; and that ‘Drinkers May Outlive Teetotalers’ according to - Business Insider ( The same business groups urge the public not to abstain, even though ‘resorting to alcohol to feel better could actually be getting in the way of your self-development’, because if all the socio-economic-physical-psychological and mental risk that alcohol abuse leads to. This alcohol-business led advocacy for people to drink alcohol, flies in the face of evidence that ‘one of the benefits of teetotal living is that it may prompt you to dig deep into the resources you already have or could have to become stronger in the face of adversity.’

All said Governments have a choice to make to show leadership and commitment about eliminating or mitigating the adverse effects of alcohol use and abuse, that drains the health budget, or continue on the futile policy to increase tax on alcohol hoping that it will deter people from drinking or abusing alcohol. Even though they know that it does not work. The only thing it does is to increase government revenue at the risk of poor health of the alcohol abusers.

Joseph Ana

Prof Joseph Ana

Lead Senior Fellow/ medical consultant.

Center for Clinical Governance Research &

Patient Safety (ACCGR&PS) @ HRI GLOBAL

P: +234 (0) 8063600642


8 Amaku Street, State Housing, Calabar, Nigeria.

HIFA Profile: Joseph Ana is the Lead Senior Fellow/Medical Consultant at the Centre for Clinical Governance Research and Patient Safety (CCGR&PS) with Headquarters in Calabar, Nigeria, established by HRI Global (former HRIWA). He is the Country Coordinator for PACK Nigeria (Practical Approach to Care Kit) which is specifically designed to improve clinical competence (improving accuracy of diagnosis and treatment) in primary health care. He is also a Member of the World Health Organisation’s Technical Advisory Group on Integrated Care in primary, emergency, operative, and critical care (TAG-IC2). As the Cross River State Commissioner for Health (2004-2008), Joseph Ana led the introduction of the evidence based, homegrown quality tool, the 12-Pillar Clinical Governance Programme (12-PCGP) in Nigeria, which also suitable for lower-, low-, and middle income countries (LLMIC) with similar weak health sector and system. To ensure sustainability of 12-PCGP, the ‘Department of Clinical Governance, Servicom & e-health’ was established in Cross River State Ministry of Health in 2007. His main interest is in ‘Whole health sector and system strengthening in LLMICs’. He has written six books on the 12-Pillar Clinical Governance Programme, including the TOOLS manual for its Implementation, currently in its 2nd Edition. He served as Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association’s Standing Committee on Clinical Governance (2012-2022), and he won the Association’s ‘Award of Excellence’ on three consecutive occasions for the innovation of 12-PCGP in Nigeria. He served as Chairman, Quality & Performance subcommittee of the Technical Working Group for the implementation of the Nigeria Health Act 2014. He was Member, National Tertiary Health Institutions Standards Committee (NTISC) of the Federal Ministry of Health, 2017-2022. He is the pioneer Secretary General/Trustee-Director of the Charity, NMF (Nigerian Medical Forum UK) which took the BMJ to West Africa in 1995. Joseph is a member of the HIFA Steering Group; the HIFA working group on Community Health Workers, and the Working Group on HIFA-WHO Collaboration ( Email: info AT and jneana AT

[*Note from HIFA moderator (NPW): Thank you Joseph for introducing this important topic. I have added the phrase 'Communicating the benefits of abstinence versus light/moderate drinking' into the Subject line]