I am over the moon that UK cyclist Bradley Wiggins admitted to a history of binge drinking yesterday as the shame that surrounds addictive patterns prevents people from seeking help. The more people of note speak up the less humiliating it should be to admit a problem. Thank you Bradley for your courage and integrity.
Sadly though my guess is that the interested population will be more likely to line up their next pint ‘just one more before I do the tour, mate’ than to shake their head amidst roars of bullying derision with ‘no thanks, mate, I’m going to see if I can stop’. Such is the grip alcohol has on our society that even with evidence of damages caused by binge drinking (conservative estimates rate at over one person a day to die from alcohol over the next 20 years) and with 1.5million UK dependent drinkers of which only 8-18% are in treatment, our culture continues to neck alcohol in huge proportions, becoming a European leader in alcohol consumption. The prospect is not good. Alcohol damages must not only be measured in terms of the direct hit to the drinker (physical, emotional, mental, financial), but to their families, to their social context, to their work, to our social services, our police, our NHS – to each and every one of us intimidated or harmed by someone under the influence. Of all those drinkers too, many have families, and the children of these unions of active addiction grow up to become Adult Children of Alcoholics – a self destructive legacy all of its own.
The cost is far too high and the justification to drink is that of an addict. I am a supporter of early intervention, of treatment, of minimum pricing and of education – to children and their parents. We must start with the parents…
(The statistics cited have been taken from Druglink Magazine, May/June 2012).