Was James Bond a functional alcoholic?
We have shown that James Bond’s alcohol consumption, while on his various missions for Her Majesty’s Secret Service is, on average, between 65 and 92 units a week. There is only one indication of his alcohol consumption while not on a mission. During a medical assessment in Thunderball he is documented as drinking half a bottle of spirits a day, equivalent to 105 units a week. There are also occasional references to hangovers during non-mission times in the books. We therefore conclude that his drinking during missions is roughly comparable with his “office days.”
Many studies have shown that people generally underestimate their alcohol consumption by around 30%, implying that Bond’s could be as high as 130 units a week. It is unclear whether having a third party describing one’s alcohol intake would make stated consumption more or less accurate. Recent research implies that half of all alcohol sold is not accounted for by health surveys, so actual consumption could even be double that claimed.8 9 10 We are unaware of any studies that have shown an overestimation of alcohol consumption. Similarly, when we had to estimate Bond’s consumption (such as “visited a bar”) we have been deliberately conservative. We are therefore confident that our estimates are at the lower end of the truth.
UK NHS recommendations for alcohol consumption state that an adult male should drink no more than 21 units a week, with no more than 4 units on any one day, and at least two alcohol free days a week.12 James Bond’s drinking habits are well in excess of each of these three parameters. This level of consumption makes him a category 3 drinker (>60 g alcohol/day) and therefore in the highest risk group for malignancies, depression, hypertension, and cirrhosis.13 14 He is also at high risk of suffering from sexual dysfunction,15 which would considerably affect his womanising.