Did James Bond suffer from alcoholism? We cannot judge for sure, but the signs are not good. The media has always liked portraying characters that party hard, but how realistic are the representations? It turns out, not very.
According to liver specialist, Dr. Indra Neil Guha, from Nottingham University Hospital in the United Kingdom, the world’s favorite secret agent would be unable to perform his job if he was a real person.
Dr. Guha spent a year going through the books, by Sir Ian Fleming, which we the basis for the movies. Guha discovered that Bond’s character averaged approximately 45 drinks a week, which comes out to about six or seven a day. According to the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, that puts Bond at far higher risk for alcoholism than the average person.
While that is certainly more than the average person, what is more alarming are the binges. For instance, in Casino Royale, Bond takes down 20 drinks before hopping into a car, going on a high-speed chase, wrecking it, and spending two weeks in the hospital.
Other experts agree that Bond would have suffered cirrhosis, cognitive dysfunction, depression, and sexual dysfunction as a result of his high rate of alcohol consumption.
Duke neuropsychologist, Scott Swartzwelder echoed the sentiments. “Bond isn’t going to be downing three or four martinis, and then winning a fight with five guys…He might be starting the fights, but he’s not winning them.”
Swartzwelder believes Bond would have suffered dysfunction in the cerebellum and hippocampus specifically, reducing his ability to do things such as run and shoot, dance, remember what hotel and room number he was in, and other key activities that a spy would need to do (according to the movies, that is).
The study was accurate and comprehensive, too. Guha measured Bond’s favorite drink, the Vesper martini, as 1.5 drinks to compensate for alcohol volume. Especially when beer is capable of having the same potency as a glass of wine, this is a key consideration in obtaining accurate numbers.
It is important to remember, though, that James Bond is a simply a fictional character. Although many alcoholics have a glamorous idea of what drinking and using is all about, we forget what the reality looks like. Instead of being the cool, mysterious stranger others want to know about, we forget that instead we look like lonely, depressed, isolated shells of who we were.
Naturally, that image does not move sales. It is no wonder, then, that movies and TV are still clinging to the idea that alcohol-equals-cool, despite many of the other changes that have happened in the media in recent years.
But Bond is a character from a different time—a time in which admitting one had a problem was unacceptable to most. Today, though, it would be surprising to not see James Bond in a meeting of AA. After all, it is hard to aim a gun when you have a case of the shakes.
Bond and Alcoholism
What is your take? Did you always suspect a certain character had a drinking or drug problem? Let us know in the comments!