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Research Summary

Alcohol Use Disorder in a Secret Service Agent: Commander James Bond, 007

James Bond is seen as a role model and his drinking is often portrayed in a glamorous light. UK investigators read all 12 original full-length James Bond novels and recorded his alcohol consumption. In total, 123.5 days were described; on 36 days there was no alcohol consumption due to hospitalization or incarceration.

  • Bond abstained on 14% of days when he was able to drink.
  • Average drinks per drinking day was 9 standard 12 g US drinks.
  • Maximum consumption in one day was 33 drinks (in From Russia With Love, day 3).
  • He had hangovers and drank while working, before driving; on one occasion this precipitated a crash-related hospitalization. Bond’s period of peak consumption followed the death of his wife.
  • He scored 3 on the CAGE alcoholism screening questionnaire, consistent with a moderate to severe alcohol use disorder (C: feels better drinking less; A: becomes annoyed when his drinking is challenged by his boss “M”; E: has an “eye opener” [reported in Thunderball and Living Daylights]).
  • The investigators hypothesize that he was unable to stir drinks as a result of an alcohol-related tremor that led him to prefer his drinks shaken, despite the fact that this is not the ideal preparation of vodka martinis.

Comments:

The novels were read by only one investigator each; drinking was all by self-report and some was estimated (e.g., when the description was “serious drinking” or “a visit to a bar”); and results may not generalize beyond the British Secret Service. Nonetheless, it appears likely that this agent drinks excessively and has an alcohol use disorder, not ideal for a role model. Clinicians should have a high index of suspicion for unhealthy alcohol use in spies, others employed in high-stress jobs, and fictional characters. Richard Saitz MD, MPH

Reference:

Johnson G, Guha IN, Davies P. Were James Bond’s drinks shaken because of alcohol induced tremor? BMJ. 2013;347:f7255.

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