Bond, James Bond, Has a Drinking Problem and Needs Help, Study Shows

Diana Phillips

December 14, 2018

Although James Bond has survived countless near-death situations, his risky behavior is not without consequence. It seems that secret agent 007 is an alcoholic and needs help.

A content analysis of the 24 Bond films produced to date showed that the character consumed 109 drinks over the course of the series, an average of 4.5 drinks in each film.

Nick Wilson of the University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand, and colleagues report their findings in an article published online December 10 in the Medical Journal of Australia.

The researchers' analysis of the fictional character's drinking behavior earned the article, titled "License to swill: James Bond's drinking over six decades," recognition as a joint winner of the journal's annual Christmas competition.

In Quantum of Solace, released in 2008, the authors observe that Bond downed at least six Vesper martinis — the equivalent of 24 units of alcohol based on the description of the cocktail in the 2006 Bond movie Casino Royale — which would lead to an estimated blood alcohol level of 0.36 g/dL.

This alcohol concentration would be "enough to kill some people," the authors write. At the very least, Bond's liver would be in overdrive. "It would take about 24 hours for his liver to metabolize this amount of alcohol, and his job performance would be impaired the following day," they write.

Based on their analysis of Bond's alcohol use and alcohol-associated high-risk behaviors, including impaired driving, operation of complex machinery, casual (possibly unprotected) sex, and violence, the authors determined that "there is strong and consistent evidence that James Bond has a chronic alcohol consumption problem at the 'severe' end of the spectrum.”

Clinically, the risk behaviors Bond routinely engages in satisfy more than half of the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-5 criteria for alcohol use disorder, prompting the authors to recommend that Bond "seek professional help and try to find other strategies for managing occupational stress."

There is not enough information available from the films to make conclusive statements about the effects that prolonged, excessive alcohol use has had on Bond’s well-being, although the authors observe that his health "is apparently not overly impaired. Although his liver is 'not too good,'" they write. "He shows no dermatologic or other physical signs of alcoholism. Even his teeth are in good shape despite his high level of champagne consumption,”

The authors do warn that given Bond's history of frequent concussions, "he should be aware that alcohol may interfere with recovery from traumatic brain injury."

Secondary outcomes of the study include the drinking behavior of Bond's female companions and the presence and placement of alcohol in the environment. Based on their analyses, the authors determined that three female characters across the series of films had heavy drinking events, including "one at levels sufficient to cause staggering and double vision," they write.

In addition, Bond's environment contains high levels of alcohol, with the number of product placements for alcohol brands increasing significantly over time. "This rise was partly driven by a significant increase in the number of placements of alcohol products that require viewers to be familiar with the product to recognize it, based on the shape and color of the bottle," the authors write.

In addition to the need for Bond to take personal accountability for his drinking behavior, "the workplace culture needs to change," the authors stress. Bond should no longer be offered drinks in workplace settings and management should redefine his job to reduce stress levels, they write. Additional interventions include lightening the burden of Bond's job responsibilities, including added field support, a stronger team mentality, and more training on how to negotiate — rather than kill — enemies.

Finally, according to the authors, Bond's workplace (MI6) "needs to become a responsible employer and to refer him to support services, and to change its own workplace drinking culture."

The authors have reported no relevant financial relationships.

Med J Aust. 2018;209:495-500. Full text

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