There are Drinkers – there are Drunks – then there are Alcoholics!

DRINKERSMany people in this Country drink alcohol. Some drink very occasionally, some drink regularly, some drink too much at times. We have developed a society where drinking is an accepted culture unfortunately – but people lie about their alcohol intake and only admit to about half of the true figure!

It used to be that the sale of alcohol was quite restricted and tightly controlled (only in clubs, pubs, and off-licenses – not any more). It used to be that ordinary people couldn’t afford to drink much, and it was the rich that indulged the most – not any more. Drink is causing massive problems in our society – the young in particular think nothing of going out for a night, binge drinking, getting legless, and causing mayhem in our towns and cities. It is estimated that probably at least half of men and at least half of women can be classified as binge drinkers – good god what have we done to our society!

There is massive costs (something like ten billion pounds a year) for the taxpayer of policing the streets late at night after closing time for pubs & clubs – constantly dealing with trouble, fights and general drunks (both girls & boys as well as both women & men!) – to say nothing about the cost of violence (hospital care  & ambulances etc), and of course vandalism by drunks.

The supermarkets carry a significant responsibility for this unwanted state of affairs. They have been regrettably allowed to sell booze since the early 60s and do so irresponsibly), practically destroying the pub trade and off-licence businesses. They sell some half of all alcohol these days and it is sold alongside groceries (not separately as is required for cigarettes) – this of course leads to ‘impulse’ buying and increased drinking.

They do this selling of alcohol often as a ‘loss-leader’ (undercutting other outlets) to get people into their stores, so they can rip them off on their grocery products – their prime business. You can’t for example buy a single can of beer in most supermarkets – customers have to buy a four or six pack (why?). Then they do promotional offers which encourage people to buy (and therefore drink) large quantities of booze, half price, or two for one etc (why?). Some booze is so cheap that it is sold at a price cheaper the bottled water! Supermarkets don’t care about ruing lives or businesses – only their bottom line profits! For example Tesco (the second largest retailer by profit in the World) makes about £2billion profits a year – that demonstrates why our food is so expensive in the UK!

What is our errant MPs and government doing about such problems? A big NOTHING. Are they prepared to curb the powerful supermarket chains and force them to be accountable? Certainly NOT, you must be joking!

Are they going to take action to make pubs and clubs responsible for the trouble their drunk customers cause? Much too difficult and UNPOPULAR.

Surely though they are committed to effectively combating the scourge of drink drivers (something like one hundred thousand people are convicted of drink driving related offences every year – ninety percent of drunk drivers are men)? Not if it costs money (just you or your kids die or get seriously injured) – generally a drunk has to mow someone down or crash before the police get to feel their collar. OK, are they going to set a minimum price level for alcohol (as the parliament is doing in Scotland) to try to stop binge drunks?

Well they promised to do so, but surprise surprise they are going to renege on that next week – as they are of plain packaging on cigarettes (predicted to to reduce the number of youngsters starting up – a new death sentence for currently 200thousand of under 16s every year!) –  perhaps Cameron doesn’t  want to  upset Ken Clarke, who loves working for the Tobacco Company killers; perhaps you will accept that it is a coincidence and that he played ‘no part’, the Australian Lynton Crosby, an election guru brought in by Cameron (the PM with proven flawed judgement of people!), who ran the  lobbying firm leading a failed anti- plain packaging campaign in his country, on behalf of British American Tobacco? There is NO cure for lung cancer ONLY death! This cancer is now the second most common (after breast cancer), but also has the greatest number of deaths – about 35thousand in 2010 and likely to have increased since then!).

Ignore the lame excuses; the government’s real reason is that they are trying to clear the decks of possible unpopular proposals, well before the next election in two years time (they don’t want to rock the boat with the big and powerful businesses –if thousands die so what?).

Alcoholics are unfortunate people for who alcohol is a life destroyer. Men and women, young and old, from all backgrounds, some rich some poor, some very attractive some ordinary, some at the top of the work pile some at the bottom. There are over one and a half million already and the numbers are growing.

They all have one thing in common – when they drink they can’t stop. A normal drinker can open a bottle of wine and have a couple of glasses and then put it away. An alcoholic will finish the bottle and then open another one – their priority in life is ensuring that have another drink available – they would sell their grandmother for money to get a drink. They are desperate people (like other drug addicts). It is said it is an illness, and certainly it is a life threatening addiction. It can never ever be conquered; it has to be lived with throughout a person’s life. The only thing an alcoholic can do is NOT to drink ever. This is of course difficult, and lots fail despite going into medical rehab (some many times). It is shocking that there is in fact so little treatment available in the NHS hospitals for alcoholics, considering the scale of the problem.

Many alcoholics, who are often very successful professional people, lose everything while they are drinking – their job, their spouse, their family, their friends, their house, their car, their money, their possessions, and sometimes their freedom: many end up in the gutter and many die well before their time (alcohol is the second biggest killer, with well over 30thousand – health issues, fires, drowning, road accidents etc).

Some alcoholics see the light (sometimes at the bottom of their journey into the abyss) and they seek help to stop drinking. The want to and they need to. There are a number of organisations in UK that help these sad alcoholics. The most well known one is probably Alcoholics Anonymous (AA – not to be confused with the Automobile Association!). This AA organisation is a support group of only other ‘recovering’ alcoholics (a recovering alcoholic is someone who is trying to keep stopped). AA groups hold meetings (where members talk about their alcoholism) in most large towns and cities around the UK (and indeed around the world). Many recovering alcoholics get their life back – their self respect, a job, a house, another spouse, children, and family (and keep it provided they don’t ever drink again).

Many people will come in contact with a recovering alcoholic and not know about it (you may notice they don’t drink though)  – he or she will not have a brand on the forehead!. Unfortunately some people will have to suffer a drinking alcoholic at work or socially – and that can be difficult.

Paul Gascoigne (Gazza), an alcoholic, and a Newcastle icon, is back in the newspapers again because once more he has fallen off the wagon, badly. He was close to the end some months ago when friends plucked him up and paid for him to go to expensive rehab in the States. It was inevitable he would relapse – he wouldn’t stay there long enough and discharged himself against their wishes. He is a sad pitiful man in dire trouble again with the demon drink – which has got him by the throat. In his playing days he was an astounding talent, but his England manager Bobby Robson affectionately described him as being “as daft as a brush” – unfortunately things are not easily described as that now.

The papers are a disgrace, they should not treat someone ill like him as a news story to sell papers and make money out of his misery. Like George Best he is on a self destruct mission. George Best has been honoured (an airport even named after him), despite the fact that he falsely jumped the queue to take a liver transplant (that could have saved another person’s life) and then carried on the same heavy drinking that had destroyed his own liver – it is doubtful if he got into heaven, clever footballer or not. We will await the renaming of Newcastle Airport in due course – hopefully some time yet.

If you are unhappy about any of these things the government are NOT doing –then do your duty and complain.

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