Today is the last day of my hols, yes it did rain this morning. I didn't get the two weeks of sunshine I had hoped for but, I have had two weeks away from the woes of other peoples lives. Do I feel refreshed, batteries charged up and like the little rabbit, drumming for all I am worth? Do I fuck as like...I'm hung over today, too many late nights catching up on FilmFour movies for free and I have eaten too much. All self induced and sympathy is not asked for or expected; money...yes please. So I am back at work tomorrow and on call over the weekend. A return to the grit of life which ensures I enjoy the sweeter smoother passages of life (days off!).
Mrs.C and I have been talking about having a month off from the alcohol and next week I will be joining Slimming world. Happily for me I will generally eat anything and I genuinely enjoy cottage cheese, lentils, etc...Mrs.C does not but agrees she may join in with my dieting without joining fatfighters. Having talked about going to a club, I found this
on the net and it does look more attractive. I can access the site at any time from home or work and I would feel more in control. I will give it some thought over the weekend. I had a month off the booze last March and felt quite good at the end of it. Although I don't drink too much, there are evenings where I certainly push the boat out and have several pints of ale. Not too often because I feel dreadful the next day and I prefer to drink quality rather than quantity. I would far rather have two or three pints of a well kept real ale, also usually more expensive, than several pints of a pseudoAussie/French/Danish bilge water. Followed by a couple of alcohol free days.But there is the occasional evening where I will have several pints and as a grown, responsible and generally sensible adult I know I am drinking too much during that evening.
According to govt. statistics that makes me a 'binge drinker'. I know of people who do the same as me, nothing for a few days because of work , etc... but a weekend off and several pints/ glasses of wine on a Friday night. Equally, I also know many people who drink every day. At work one of our biggest problems is that of people presenting with 'excessive alcohol use'. They may well have drank moderately but over time the moderate amount has gradually crept up and up. It is then a problem because they need the alcohol, it is causing problems with their work, relationships, friends, etc..Generally such problems don't come our way until some imbalance occurs, usually a marriage breakdown or debts, there is then a suicide attempt and we are asked to intervene. We can wrap it up in jargon, sugarcoat it, etc...but it boils down to the same thing: Stop drinking or control it sensibly. Our remit is working with people with a mental health problem who present in crisis. If someone takes an overdose of paracetamol and is directed our way, usually on a medical ward, we assess and look at how the person might be helped, supported, etc...But alcohol problems are not our remit; no clinical mental health problems present therefore we refer on. If we didn't, our service would be swamped.However, there is very little in the way of support or help for people with alcohol problems unless the person is heavily addicted to and effected by alcohol. Rather than nipping the problem in the bud (sic) and offering support in the early stages, people have to reach the stage of drinking huge amounts each day (i.e. one-two bottles spirits per day) before the pitifully few services on offer can intervene. Even then, unless the person wants to stop there is little anyone can do.
Having targetted smoking as a major health issue, the govt. is now focusing on alcohol and I do have mixed feelings about this. I enjoy beer and I am a member of Camra. However. I see via work and on our streets the damage done by excessive alcohol drinking. The youths who caused the problems last Friday were all pissed up on cheap cider and wine. I and several neighbours had seen the same youths earlier in the day walk past carrying cases of cheap beer, strong cider and wines. From experience, phoning the police elicits no interest and hours later, teenagers drunk on booze and full of bravado do stupid things that they would think twice about if they were sober. So I applaud suggestions about sensible drinking by the govt., brewers, pubs,etc..but taking a closer look at the problem. Advertising that promotes alcohol as sexy, cool, macho, happenin'...happy hours where drinks are ridiculously cheap; large sheds with bright lights, loud music,dark corners and cheap booze full of 15 - 25 year olds;supermarkets 'pile 'em high and sell 'em cheap'to any sentient being walking on two legs;and a govt. that is happy to impose high taxes upon alcohol. My concern is that the usual response by the govt. is to bring in draconian laws and rather like the 'hammer and walnut' analogy, miss the whole point and end up hitting the bejasus out of other nuts in the vicinity rather than looking for sensible ways to address the problem.
Why do people drink? It is enjoyable, a social lubricant, relaxant and tastes nice...except for Stella...bloody awful stuff. So how to address the problem of excessive drinking because prohibition is not the answer. How about education and at an early age: in schools; currently for adults who frequently are public nuisances as a result of drunkeness;ditto domestic problems which bring the police out; raise the age to 21 years for anyone who wants to buy alcohol in shops but keep it at 18 for pubs; encourage community pubs where there is a mixture of people of different ages as opposed to the noisy barns which encourage binge drinking amongst testosterone fuelled young adults to fight.
Above all...accept that people will get drunk but few people become alcoholics. There will always be some people who have a problem with alcohol and history shows numerous examples of this.But I look at Hogarths Gin Lane and see similarities to some of the scenes we see each weekend around the UK. Call it Heroin/Cider Lane today.
Hence the first Hogarth picture where people stick to beer and the picture shows happiness, plenty and industry, as opposed to the Gin Lane picture. However, I await the first bottles with 'Alcohol in excess causes liver damage, brewers droop and kills' as the first step towards massive govt. overkill instead of a thoughtful measured approach which also examines the reasons for the increase in alcohol drinking. However, such an approach might ask the govt. to look closer to home at their failures as one of many underlying causes for the binge culture.
After all of that ranting I could murder a
nice cup of tea.