Licence to swill led to severe alcohol problem

James Bond, the secret agent with a licence to swill, drank his way to a severe alcohol use disorder, according to University of Otago researchers.

An article published in the Medical Journal of Australia's Christmas issue analysed the character's drinking behaviour over 24 movies produced between 1962 and 2015.

The researchers found the secret agent had been guzzling booze consistently and heavily over the six decades.

Despite his preference for martinis, the researchers found Bond was ready to drink any alcoholic beverage that was available, from neat vodka to Champagne and occasionally beer.

He also frequently engaged in hazardous activities while under the influence.

Lead author Prof Nick Wilson, of Wellington, said chronic risks included frequently drinking before fights, driving vehicles, high-stakes gambling, operating complex machinery or devices, contact with dangerous animals, extreme athletic performance and sex with enemies, sometimes with guns or knives in the bed.

Dangerous animals he dealt with after drinking included a snake, a scorpion and a Komodo dragon.

The study also found 007 did not shy away from performing complex tasks after indulging.

"This was illustrated graphically in the 1962 movie Dr No in which Bond operates nuclear power plant machinery, destroys, virtually single-handedly, Dr No's nuclear-space complex, kills Dr No, rescues Honey Ryder and escapes the island.''

There were many problematic aspects to Bond's drinking behaviour, with one binge-drinking episode involving six gin and vodka-based "vespers'', Prof Wilson said.

"This equates to 24 units of alcohol - that would produce a blood alcohol level that is well into the known fatal range.''

However, this was low compared with the 50 units of alcohol he consumed in a single day in one of the books, an amount which would "kill nearly everyone''.

"Other notable features include a medical scan that showed his liver was `not too good' and a MI6 report on Bond that stated 'alcohol and substance addiction indicated'.''

The researchers suggested Bond seek professional help for his drinking, but there were ways he could minimise risk in the short term.

"These include avoiding drinking on the job, especially when tackling complex tasks such as aerial combat in helicopter gunships and de-activating nuclear weapons, and saying no to social drinks with sexual partners who may want to disable, capture or kill him.''

They also advised Bond to cultivate interests other than alcohol, such as his nascent interest in lepidopterology, the study of moths and butterflies, revealed when he discussed M's butterfly collection in one movie.

The study joins many on the suave killer, including research about his smoking, violent behaviour and what one author called a "dark triad'' of abnormal psychology.

The article was awarded joint first prize in the Medical Journal of Australia's 2018 Christmas competition.

- Staff reporter 

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