DO I drink too much; alcohol that is? That’s the question many will be asking themselves as the festive season approaches.

Already too many Scots are on better than nodding terms with strong drink. Our relationship with the bottle and can has become ever closer over the past half century. Growing up in a 1950s working family, my only recollection of drink in the house was at new year. My father’s Hogmanay bottle was treated almost reverentially. Rightly so, as it had taken a hefty divot out of his weekly pay packet.

How things have changed. In relative terms alcohol has never been cheaper and drinking, particularly at home, has traversed from special occasion to commonplace. A declaration of interest here. It has become most commonplace amongst my generation, the so-called baby boomers. We have become the nation’s problem drinkers and being honest, I’m pretty much a one-man case study.

When registering at a new medical practice, I may have been a bit economical with the verité when answering the weekly units question. The GP was far too polite to say “Aye right”, but he probably thought of a number and doubled it before writing it down.

Concern about elderly drinking is nothing new. As far back as 2006 a study into alcohol and ageing asked, “Is Alcohol a Major Threat to Healthy Ageing for Baby Boomers?” As questions go that ranks alongside the one concerning bears’ arboreal toilet habits.

More recently, National Records for Scotland warned of the rise in alcohol related deaths amongst the over 75s. The welcome downward trend amongst the 16 – 24 group has been more than offset by an increase amongst those old enough to know better.

The reasons for the increase are clear enough. Despite our alcohol consumption, more of us are living into our 60s and 70s. We have time on our hands and thanks to our triple-locked and index-linked pensions we have more disposable income. Our well-stocked drink cupboards mean visitors are more likely to be offered a dram than a cup of tea.

If the reasons are fairly clear cut, what to do about it is less obvious. Increased pricing is unlikely to make a difference amongst older drinkers unless levied at Scandinavian rates. If alcohol abuse amongst we oldies is to be addressed successfully, we need to be shaken out of our complacency.

Smokers have become virtual pariahs, stalked by nightmare images of diseased organs. Yet, there is still an acceptance, almost a cachet surrounding alcohol. A high-profile, explicit campaign targeted at older, daily drinkers is long overdue.

Professionals spotting health issues arising from alcohol abuse are far too mealy-mouthed. They need to be brutally frank about the damage arising from toxic tippling. Otherwise it will be the overstretched NHS that will be left to carry, so to speak, the can.