Sunday, 4 September 2011

The View From The Bottom Of The Glass

I can think of at least one very simple step that, if every person could abide by, would result in a radically better society.  It would be to drink responsibly. If you can't handle the grog, or if it makes you violent or unstable then learn to manage your intake.
There. Simple. A better world.
Don't believe me? Ok, I see I've a skeptic to convince.
A vast amount of crime, a huge percentage of domestic abuse, and a whole lot of other societal problems are under girded by our national propensity to exceed sensible levels of booze. The fights, the criminal damage, the general disorder are the obvious markers, but what about other side effects such as drunken fumbles  leading to unwanted pregnancy? Or venereal diseases? or the inability to control finances due to addiction? How many sick days were in fact hangovers days? How many appointments missed? How much money has been bled from our crippled economy because of our failure to apply self control? You might think I'm being puritanical, but you'd be wrong in so many ways. I'm not talking about abstinence, just a bit more restraint. I'd like to see a change in our culture whereby we all take a more measured approach to the whole matter. Am I asking too much? Am I being plain unrealistic?
I don't see why? What if we taught our children early, starting with a school curriculum that included modules on alcohol? Let's get recovered alcoholics into classrooms and youth clubs and get them to share their stories. Our kids are smarter than we give them credit for; let's entrust them with the facts and enable them to grow into adulthood better informed.  More importantly, what if parents led by example and lived lives illustrating that enjoyment doesn't have to mean excess? Cultures can and do change, and if we teach our kids sensibly and without preaching I reckon we'd see big improvements. 
You might wonder why I've got a bee in my bonnet over this? It's because I see the adverse effects that alcohol abuse can cause. The amount of police hours spent responding to drink related incidents should outrage us all. It eats  into our diminishing resources and prevents us from tackling other issues. Beyond this I just see the damage that alcoholism has done in the lives of so many. It reduces people to a husk, robs them of life and hope and purpose. I'm not blind to the fact that some drink problems are often manifestations of deeper personal trauma, however. Some drink to cope, because it makes life more bearable, less lonely. Only what it gives is nothing compared to what it demands in return. It's like borrowing money from a loan shark, trading a short term problem for a longer term one. Trust me, the view from the bottom of a glass might appear to bring comfort, but deep down I know you've the nagging suspicion that it's false consolation.

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