Monday 1st November
Alcohol – that old chestnut:
So all over the radio and TV press today is the news that Professor David Nutt has condemned alcohol as worse for the public health than heroin http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11660210
Now those of you that have been following my thoughts and musings will know that I don’t care for prohibition or the government’s right to tax and control everything that we as individual’s may choose to do with our lives.
But you’ll also know that I fully agree with the findings of Professor Nutt around ‘King Alcohol’!
I’ve seen so much more damage to individual’s personal health through excessive alcohol consumption than I have to heroin or crack addicts.
That isn’t to say that heroin and crack users aren’t on a terribly destructive downwards spiral, which is far from pretty and mostly very ugly (I speak from personal experience here), but it is to say that chronic alcoholics are in far worse health than a chronic junkie or crack head.
But the report isn’t actually about the personal damage that the drugs (including alcohol) cause us.
Actually, what it highlights is the social damage alcohol does to our community, our family, and our society. It’s damning!
Whole families lives are run and controlled by one member’s alcoholism.
It doesn’t make me angry, but it does make me terribly sad.
I work with alcoholics and addicts on a daily basis through my company www.soberservices.co.uk and I get to see it first hand, having recovered from my own drink and substance addictions, just how it affects not only the individual, but also all those around.
Time after time, I see daughter’s crying because their father is unable to be the father they want. Or wives who keep the secret of their alcoholic husband in an attempt to protect him. I’m generalizing (and stereo-typing) here, but the picture we normally see if the mother protecting and enabling the heroin addicted son to try to keep him out of harm’s way.
But the real untold story is actually the elephant in the room – it’s the alcoholic, who although living a legal lifestyle, is crippling his or her family with their selfish, self-centred and debilitating behaviour.
The best example I can think of is Begbie in Irvine Walsh’s book / film “Trainspotting”. Begbie thinks that he is superiour and a better person than his junkie friends, who can’t or won’t get clean. Then he’ll physically destruct a room and whoever is inside it, during his alcohol infused violence, with no consideration for the victims of his aggression. And then, with no thought for others, and without refelection upon the previous carnage he’s caused, he’ll drink all over again. He simply believes he is so much better than those junkie scum friends of his.
My message for a long time has been around the inability of the current or past governments to label alcohol addiction alongside the other drug addictions and then to allow the afflicted access to residential treatments for a more permanent recovery. Rather than the current system that allows an alcoholic a limited amount of access to a detox bed, and once they’ve had their turn then denying them any further atempts.
THIS IS NUTS! (no pun intended)
Sadly, alcoholism isn’t just a physical illness – it’s a mental disease, and unless treated with equal severity as the physical symptons, then the alcoholic is doomed to return to drinking.
Residential rehabs address this. Detoxifications rarely acknowledge this.
Drug addicts are treated by the state in rehab.
Alcoholics are not.
And the main reason for this for the past generation is that alcoholic’s don’t commit crime against the public and society.
It’s become a criminal justice problem and not a public health one.
And that’s the saddest part.
Because generally, an alcoholic manages to minimize their misery to just the immediate family who love and support them. They don’t take their pain and problems out into the streets and commit crime to support their habits. They use emotional blackmail and terrorize the very people who offer help.
It’s really very sad.
When will society understand that ‘King Alcohol’ is one of the biggest threats to healthy living?
Although, that said… most people I know drink and enjoy it and don’t have a problem what so ever.
This wouldn’t apply to them.
Or would it?