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Dying for a Drink - join in the debate

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Eamonn Walsh | 14:21 UK time, Monday, 1 August 2011

Victoria is 35 and critically ill after a decade of heavy drinking. 45-year old Matthew was so sick from his alcohol abuse he needed a new liver. Brian at 32, drank so much that he ended up living in a cave.

Panorama uncovers the impact alcohol is having on a new and younger generation of problem drinkers and asks whether the government is doing enough to stop us drinking ourselves to death.

We welcome your thoughts on Dying for a Drink. Please use this forum to leave your comment.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Successful people have learnt the skills they need to identify and overcome the difficulties they meet in life to achieve success and happiness. These poor souls have not had the learning opportunities to develop these skills. Poor development of these skills results in symptoms such as alcohol or drug abuse, eating disorders, anti-social and criminal behaviour etc. Our society, parents and education do not prioritise the learning of these 8 skills (effective learning, cognitive, communication, self-awareness, managing feelings, motivation, empathy and social skills) as they are in Scandinavian and other countries with good well being (note the response of the Norwegian public to the recent catastrophe). This programme was good in highlighting the one of the SYMPTOMS, but not on the REAL CAUSE and SOLUTION -which is for the media, education, parents and society to focus on the development of the skills we need to succeed (Success Feelosophy)

  • Comment number 2.

    They say that the problem is with cheap alcohol in the UK. Alcohol is cheap in Spain, but the Spanish seem to have more sense of responsible drinking. It is not the culture there to fall into gutters & passout through drink. Nor is it the culture for the young women to dress like tarts.
    The problem with UK is the general attitude nowadays. Alcohol is just one part of a much greater problem.

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm sick of hearing that problems with alcohol abuse are all due to alcohol being too cheap. Alcohol is not cheap in this country! The problem is that the abusers don't have a life, they can't get a job, they live in deprived areas, so they turn to alcohol (or other drugs).

    Putting up the price of alochol is not going to solve the problem. You have to give these people a life. What are you going to do about obesity, put up the price of food? I don't think so.

    We have drug addicts in this country. Is heroin cheap? Is cannabis cheap? Is cocaine cheap?

    The problem is not the price. Give it a rest, please.

  • Comment number 4.

    My stepson died of acute alcoholic poisoning at age 43 in March 2010.

    He was a victim of a society and a government that has allowed alcohol (which raises billions in tax) to be made more freely available and cheaper than soft drugs that does not inflict anyway near the same harm as alcohol!

    When I was a teenager back in the 60's the only place one could purchase alcohol was basically in a pub or in an off-licence. The off-licence was attached to the pub and had limited hours of opening so folks only had limited access to alcohol.

    In those days booze was NOT available in either corner stores or supermarkets! The Licensing Act 2003 has not served us well. Also, the price of alcohol in relative terms has never been cheaper or so widely available and the strength is far greater.

    My solution? Raise the drinking age to 21. Increase the price of booze sold in supermarkets and scrap the Licensing Act 2003 and only allow booze to be sold between the hours of 12 noon and 10:00pm.

  • Comment number 5.

    I don't know where the "cheap" booze is. My local Pub is £3+ a pint of Lager My local "Off License" is cheaper than ASDA but still over £1 a can. As a pensioner who likes a few drinks in good company at weekend I fail to see why I should suffer for the few idiots who can't handle their drink. Our alcohol (like fuel) is dearer than a lot of Europe already, it shouldn't increase.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hello all, few people remember that under Tony Blair's 2nd Labour election campaign they texted the mobile phone numbers of STUDENTS promising to introduce 24hour drink licensing if you voted for Labour and if they won the election - which they did. Talk about 'dirty rotten scoundrels' election tactics! How did they get away with this?
    Thanks for reading this post, please leave a resonse below.

  • Comment number 7.

    The government and its experts main tool to stop drinking is purely to raise the price and limit availability. This will not work - all it will do is drive those that cannot afford it to buy illicit alcohol or move people on to harder drugs - witness the rise in illegal distilleries being discovered, & that is before the government has its way.
    The government and experts are totally ignoring the reason why people drink in the first place. I was only a casual drinker until about a year or so ago when the current economic climate started affecting me. Now I am what would be considered an alcoholic - I probably get through 1-2 bottles of wine a day during the week, topped up by a few G&Ts at the weekend. I am self-employed and work very hard, my wife is in full-time employment but her job is at risk. I've worked hard all my life, paid into a private pension, which has been decimated by G Brown & his banker friends, and I am now in the situation of probably ending up as one of the destitute pensioners in the news today - THAT is why I drink, & I shall pay whatever is necessary to keep me drinking - whether it's 3 bottles for £10 or 1 bottle for £10 will make no difference. I cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel with the way the uk is going at the moment so oblivion is my best choice. Cameron & his experts are trying to treat the symptoms and not the cause.

  • Comment number 8.

    Having worked in the industry for the past 20 years it is apparent to me that the Government has been 'hoodwinked' by the drinks industry into believing that they will support the "responsible drinking" initiative. It is the drinks industry that introduced and benefit from the sales of shots sold to the young drinkers whilst engaged on their 'binge drinking' social (more anti-social) excursions. They have allowed an imbalance on the committee which leads the Government initiatives and advises the Government. The true, caring professions are ignored for the sake of financial gain, whether for the industry or the Government by taxation. I also see on a regular basis the local independent "specialist off licence" eroded by the influx of superstores selling cheaper alcohol and monopolising the trade. I wish the Government would stop saying "I hear what you are saying" and actually listen and act upon the healthcare professions advice !!

  • Comment number 9.

    The goverment cannot stop people drinking, this is a FACT, never can and never will.
    People choose to drink, they like it, they know the risks and no matter how much money is thrown at trying to educate etc etc it will fail. It is a drug and addiction, its sad but true. Its not just poor and depressed people who drink either, its right across the board, so why punish everyone?

  • Comment number 10.

    Ok! interesting programme, I'm a paramedic I see weekly the adverse effects of alcohol on 'young' people, the problem is not the drink it's societies attitude and approach to alcohol. First and foremost, the most immediate thing we must do is increase the age of drinking to 21 with I.D. it's the only way forward. The effects on the health service for alcohol abuse is out of control but so is obesity related illnesses i.e diabetes heart, disease so should we increase the price of cheese, butter, pizza etc, of course not. Education from a young age is a necessity, we cannot undo years of habitual drinking or eating no matter how much the health service and government try to. Once again with immediate effect the government must increase the age of drinking to 21 with I.D.

  • Comment number 11.

    having just watched the programe- i can add with my own experience as a recovering alcoholic- that the team may have to produce another prog, this time on the availablity of illegal alcohol and its devastating effects.
    im now seeing a younger and more demanding drinker to emerge on the "ill" lists- and the purchase of the bootleg booze thats freely available is causing havoc in our A&E dept, i nearly lost my life to the illegal booze i bought from a contact i had a few years ago- i ended up in intensive care and boy was i ill- it was the usual dealy mixture of anti freeze and other rubbish- but the young and seasoned drinkers are not bothered by that fact- all they want is cheap drinks, this is before i even get started onto the cheap and happy hour culture that we all see in our pubs, clubs and bars- i know this too as i live here in blackpool!

  • Comment number 12.

    As a neighbor of 2 alcoholics who died last year I have seen the devastating effect of the problems raised in tonight programme, however in my opinion, we pay far to much tax on alcohol generally already in the UK.The only way to reduce the consumption here is to make the UK population happy, most of us drink because we are stressed at work,or upset by outside factors.If there was a way to reduce these factors, then the UK population would drink less.Its a very simple way to tackle the problem.Out pricing the product will lead to higher crime, as anyone on a drug of any sort will steal to get their fix. I personally would advocate brown coffee shops selling legalized Mariana,as in Amsterdam.There is an almost negligible problem in Holland with drunk folks, and if there is, they are usually from the UK.

  • Comment number 13.

    They moan that people smoke and what effects it can have on us, i.e printing on cigarette packets but they dont print on bottle/cans that drinking causes liver problems etc... 30+ years ago this wasnt an issue, kids didnt drink to todays extent or were able to buy alcohol so easily. The nhs is wasted on people who abuse it by drinking way too much or by taking drugs, what about people with cancer or alzhiemers who need drugs but are told that they cant have them because of cost? its all wrong, no wonder the nhs is up the shoot. Stop selling alcohol in so many places and for cheaper prices, only sell it in pubs, kids arent aloud in many places unless they have id but this would be good to stop 12/14 year olds buying cider and hanging around in parks etc ive got no sympathy for alcohol abusers, and liver transplants are wrong, there are alot of really sick people who need the help not people who abuse themselves.

  • Comment number 14.

    Here we go again.

    So very quick to hit the young and the working classes with the 'problem drinker' label. However, Prof Mark Bellis of North West Public Health Observatory (NWPHO) would disagree. In 2007 he compiled a report showing that the middle classes were the biggest abusers of alchohol, a report to which Prof Ian Gilmor, then of the Royal College of Physicians concured.

    There is no doubt that there is a problem with drink in society, but to concentrate on just one facet of that problem is disengenuous

  • Comment number 15.

    I found the content of the programme shocking but somehow not surprising.
    Thirty years ago as stated in the programme we did not have these problems to this extent.
    Thirty years ago we did not have supermarket chains and garage forecourts selling alcohol at 35p a pint !! All we had were pubs and off licences (both of which are meeting their demise) selling alcohol in a regulated environment, thus reducing availability and at a higher cost. Stop supermarkets and garages selling alcohol, let them do two for one offers, etc on bread, eggs, milk and other foodstuffs that would benefit the whole population instead of just fuelling alcoholic binge drinkers!
    Couple this with parental education and we may be on the right track.

  • Comment number 16.

    Does the BBC feel no shame - yet another prohibitionist programme using images of people enjoying beer in social groups to an audio commentary of the damage to individuals and society caused by abuse of alcohol - when is Panorama ever going to make a serious programme which separates the issues of illness caused by supermarkets selling spirits and dangerously strong alcoholic drinks for individuals to consume alone and unsupervised from images of people drinking our national drink responsibly in cultural social meeting places? Our pubs are dying, not the people in them, and it is time the health police sorted the facts from the fiction: the wards and the cells are not filled with average beer drinkers, so stop showing film of them when spouting hospital statistics for alcoholics. Beer drinkers are beer drinkers, not alcoholics, and many studies have shown that moderate regular beer consumption is even healthier than abstinence.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi i watched this program tonight They say its because of the cheap price of drink down a days its just total rubbish as drink 20 years ago or more was even cheaper you could have a so called good night out for less 10 pounds so what is it ??? people now a days have no faith, hope or direction and are so busy trying to be there own god that they have created a empty vacuum with in side them which needs to be fill to make them feel complete so they turn to drink and drug and what ever else they can try to fill it with but even though it might fill it temporarily it still leaves it empty and as it now leaves you with the guilt of spending all your money on trying to fill it or what ever else its still empty so you then try it to fill it even more and more and more . We just cant fill it no matter how we try to it will always remain empty .All these people want is a comforter they try to find it in drink but its just not there it just comes back the next day and says here is your problems you had yesterday and i now give you the problems of a hangover a a police charge maybe and a empty wallet with no money in to pay your bills with which you was so worried about before > you cant fill it no matter how you try

  • Comment number 18.

    What an unbalanced programme. Where was the discussion on the Labour Governments decision to allow 24 hour drinking? Has this worked to alter our drinking culture? Obviously not.

    The BBC editorial line - as usual -is that its all the Coalitions fault - in particular David Cameron.

    Again a completely biased programme without balance. I suppose we should not be surprised.

  • Comment number 19.

    The main problem is not cheap Alcohol. Its the Social culture being drunk particularly among young people is considered to be cool and having fun, public need to be made aware that drinking within limits is fun, but excessive drinking and causing trouble and social problems is an embrassment and will not be tolerated by the wider society, this message need to go out loud and clear. Government and society at large need to make people aware that excessive drinking can cause serious damage to the health & its social effects on communities. Children needs to be educated in school about alcohol and its effects on body. Public awareness that Alcohol needs to be consumed in moderation only. Unhealthy eating habits can lead to ill health so can excessive alcohol consumption.

  • Comment number 20.

    It's not the price or availability - street drugs are illegal and the addiction levels are the high - the issue is the very nature of our cultural society and its pressures! My partner is an Officer in the MOD, I am Civil Servant - however, my alcohol consumption is excessive on a daily basis - many may be negative when I say, "this just happened over time" - where do people like me go, I'm not destitute nor have I ever needed hospital treatment. However, obtaining help to cease an horrific addiction is not easy - I have too much to loose actually admitting it is an issue! For me the key is to educate our up and coming generations in the same way they have with tobacco, prevent the future from walking into this abyss!

  • Comment number 21.

    I don't agree with the conclusions of this programme. It blames the government, the wide availability of drink and the 'low' price of alcohol - none of which are really the reason why the British generally seem to exhibit so much irresponsibility when it comes to alcohol consumption. On the continent, and in other countries around the world, alcohol is relatively inexpensive, and plentiful in a socially acceptable way. This means that responsible drinking is neither a feature of government policy nor the natural result of overpricing. Adopting such methods will only send consumption behaviour 'underground' and reinforce the wrong message about alcohol to the wider society.

    We need to deal with why it is our society associates inebriation with being cool or macho; why socializing can only be meaningfully 'fun' if it involves complete intoxification, and why we can't conceive of a relaxing evening without a glass of something strong.

    Education is the key to changing our current attitudes to alcohol but are we really convinced that we want to change? That some people continue to want to believe that drink is only a problem when it's someone else's problem shows that, sadly, we do not want to change.

  • Comment number 22.

    In February 2007 I worked within a small team of people and frequently we put the world to rights and I think I must have had some foresight to now.

    I put together a 'spoof, official' document which I circulated to others in the team. It was very tongue-in-cheek listing the effects of how changes to Retirement age, Pensions and Over-Population would have on each other, but reading it again after tonight's Panorama, I feel I must be a clairvoyant. I must add I worked in Retail at the time and not connected to any Governement department.

    (this is only a few lines from the entire document):

    "the raising of the age limit for retirement was carefully worked out so that vast savings could be made by government by not having to pay out any pensions at all and the 24-hour drinking License is the answer to saving our Planet".

    "How? "

    "For both sexes, it is estimated that the majority of young binge drinkers will never even reach retirement age, due to excessive alcohol which will cause liver damage and premature death. It is a fact that most females will never become mothers due to the effects of alcohol. Another problem solved - overpopulation!"

  • Comment number 23.

    An utterly shameless advert for the prohibitionist movement in the UK, this week’s love fest for the totally unlikeable featured the usual suspects including Don Shenker, a man with a media studies degree and an axe to grind. Did anyone detect any balance in the form of the vast majority of people who enjoy alcohol without ending up in casualty or worse? Of course not, despite overwhelming evidence that drinking amongst UK citizens in general and youngsters in particular is in decline, the BBC decided to give the narrow minded temperance movement free reign to be, as usual, less than honest. Horrible!

  • Comment number 24.

    Apart from one fellow, who claimed to have begged for his booze money, the programme was very silent on the source of these drinkers' income. Where are they getting the cash for '20 pints a day' year in year out? It certainly won't be from regular work.

  • Comment number 25.

    Last night's programme was a poor one. It focussed on extreme examples, which makes anyone drinking less then that appear sensible drinkers.
    They should have focussed on Middle England where many people are drinking vast quantities of wine and spirits week in and week out but probably feel that they are just normal, moderate drinkers and doing little harm to themselves or anyone.
    I don't think price is the answer to the problem; price did not solve the smoking problem. Television, especially the soaps, encourage the tendency for people to drink too much through whenever you see them they are drinking beer or wine. If you need a drink, either on your own or socially, just have a drink of water, tea or coffee and save an alcoholic drink for a treat just a few times a week.

  • Comment number 26.

    This show was produced by the BBC so it's not really surprising that it didn't mention the Scottish Government's attempt to bring in minimum pricing for alcohol.

    Unlike a change in tax this would not have much effect on most people who were drinking socially. It would have greatest effect on very cheap alcohol. It could even have helped pubs and whisky producers since the differential would be reduced.

    It was supported by health professionals and the Police.

    The bill was voted down by Labour, Tories and Lib Dems.

    Labour's health spokesperson, Jackie Ballie, took the view that alcohol is not the problem, it's caffeine we need to worry about.

  • Comment number 27.

    I thought that was an interesting posting keeffeeley re what we should be focusing on in schools / education - maybe you have a good point there as I think this problem in the UK is much deeper than cheap alcohol being available. Maybe that does impact the younger generation but there seems to be a similar problem with people in their 20's/30's and beyond. Everything in the UK centres around alcohol, maybe this is weather related and maybe it is cultural in that it is pretty much socially acceptable for people to get trashed at BBQ's, meals, work functions never mind pubs and clubs.
    I thought the program was interesting but I would like to have seen it focus more (or equally) on the binge drinkers or those who have been affected after thinking it is normal to knock back a couple of bottles of wine on a nightly basis. I think this may hit home with more viewers, as there are probably many watching last night who would not see themselves associating with the extremeness of those interviewed (eg living in a cave and begging)
    Not saying that shouldnt be covered but maybe a follow up on binge and gradual overdrinking would be good?

  • Comment number 28.

    There are so many arguments around this, and culturally I can see the shift in behaviour for younger people on the whole in the south east compared to when I was younger.

    The solution is so simple. Especially given governments that are so adept at taxing virtually everything we see day to day!!

    Adopt and adapt the model use by the government to tax company cars. roughly speaking I pay tax on the value of my car, the mileage I do, and the emissions from my car. These are all based on higher figures i.e. expensive car + high emissions + lots of miles = bigger hole in my pocket every month. The tax I pay is dependent on any movement upwards and downwards of one or all of these three things

    Using the large bottle of Cider as an example, could you not look at it as follows i.e. Big 2L bottle of cider + high alcohol content + cheap prices = higher taxation on the drinks manufacturer. Manipluation of these things in either direction could create a model of taxation that ultimately deters i.e. Big 2L bottle of Cider + medium alcohol content + higher price = less taxation to Mr drinks maker.

    Wine would have little movement in taxation as this would ultimately price-driven. The volume of bottle and Alcohol content typically stays the same @ 12.5% or thereabouts, so one key component is relatively stable. If people sell it cheaply, they pay more tax. It’s who pays that tax that is the key problem. Ideally manufacturers will, so then it’s at source. Supermarkets may absorb the tax as a loss-leader to drive footfall for other higher-margin purchases. For the rest, standard rules apply.

    All tax goes directly into the health service, police and all other things associated with immediate management managing the fallout and legacy of this problem.

    Like cars, some source will have record of every drink sold over the counter or in a pub, so a large chunk of it can always be monitored.

    It really is that simple. Phew, I need a drink!!

  • Comment number 29.

    This episode is amateur and misleading showing poor research and ending in a conclusion that was too simplistic version of the truth.
    Why target cheap alcohol again? And poorly crafted? Where was the balance? Seeing only a version of the bad. Where was the good? Show us people enjoying themselves in a pub within a local community? Most of us do not drink in the park or streets...quote "large minority" what does that mean?
    Commissioning Editors please ask the question where do your minority drinkers buy cheap alcohol? Answer - Supermarkets - who promote take home booze and take home food. Pubs and Restaurants do not - but you tar us -the social pub drinkers- with the same brush. Showing an unbalanced programme hurts British culture. Pubs have been around for as long as the Church - Taberna longer. A visit to the Pub is on the list of most foreign tourists - and this earns the UK income. For the nation the local pub is classified as an amenity for the community - official planning term. They act as glue within a community. The pub is the hub. Pubs visits are under threat from high taxation and duty and from people eating and drinking at home, priced out by cost by tax and the growth of supermarkets.
    The French have cut VAT to 5% for dining out - keeping alive their local food businesses. This imaginative tax cut by the last civilised nation in Europe has stopped the decline of the small family run bistros. The French stop for lunch and do not get fat. Think of the jobs this simple tax cut creates. The local French food markets are protected by custom and local laws and grants. We have supermarkets who squeeze competition and serve us poor quality but cheap goods and cheap booze in bulk.
    Why doesn't the "Paranoia programme" investigate junk food sold by the fast food corporations and ready meals from supermarkets...full of fat/animal welfare/issues/cattle ranching/tree cutting/methane making/loss of local high street/street litter forming and does not raise revenue for the UK. So no extra VAT or duty tax to spend on combating obesity on the NHS. Take it from drink instead you say. Aprt from the wine man your two invited experts are funded by us the taxpayers to tell us not to drink much- it is obvious that they justify their existence (save this cost). Try a bit of research in a local cozy pub where the locals and regulars will explain to you the real world as you don't seem to get it as disconnected metropolitans.
    Obesity kills more in the UK and costs more to the taxpayer in the NHS. Think 80-20 rule. Please have the guts to investigate cheap fatty sugary junk food.
    But I bet no lazy researcher can pin down a supermarket executive or fast food co to explain what is in their products. It is called "junk food" for a reason.
    This has been just another incomplete, unbalanced "must-slim" booze bashing-pub harming story.
    Beer, Cider & Whisky is brewed in Britain -Local British jobs -some craft brewers and distillers...bash bash bash... I feel I am living in Saudi Buckinghamshire.
    Cheers

  • Comment number 30.

    For those that think that the Government should 'give' people jobs and then they wouldn't drink themselves stupid, please just use some common sense.
    I was brought up in the North East of England when jobs were very scarce, those in work were very low paid, but people had dignity, pride, and spent their money on vegetables! They produced fantastic, healthy food, looking for ways of providing variety to meals without spending a lot. Their houses were scrupulously clean, and they worked with what they had. We walked in the fresh air, which is free, and enjoyed our lives without a drop of alcohol. It is possible, you know.
    If the economy is such that there aren't enough jobs to go around the Government cannot 'give' everyone work. People must take some responsibility for their own lives, and fill their days in more rewarding, and cheaper, ways than drinking.
    By the way, I do enjoy a glass of wine, and I am not anti-alcohol, but there are so many more things to life. That is what many need to learn.

  • Comment number 31.

    I am twenty three and have abused alcohol since I was 15. When I was drinking, I had a life, I had a job, I didn't live in a deprived area and I have a loving family. My problem was I never taught those life skills that everyone needs and I when life got "tough" I would immediately turn to drink. I also was never given the knowledge at school of what alcohol can do to you and your life. AA have been a massive help and I have learnt those life skills I needed and am now over 6 months sober. My life has completely changed and I am so pleased that I am 23 and am never going to drink again. If I was taught the harmful facts of alcohol at school, I believe I would have had a different view on alcohol and perhaps wouldn't have become so dependant on alcohol. I believe knowledge is the key and if anyone asked me to share my experiences with younger adults, I would be more than happy to.

  • Comment number 32.

    Well done, Alexandra. Knowledge is the key to everything, and I agree with what you say. People seem to have lost their way generally, and seem to think that to go out and drink almost to oblivion is the only way to 'have a good time'. If only they knew of all the other things that they are missing out on, and how having a little self respect and dignity is so rewarding. A sense of community, and socialising with all ages in so many different ways goes a long way to prmoting a feeling of self worth, and you can have great laughs and a lot of fun along the way. Perhaps this should all be taught as these simple facts of life seem to have been long forgotten.

  • Comment number 33.

    I have just watched dying for a drink on i-player. I was disappointed that the programme didn`t explore some options that people struggling with alcohol addiction might take. To see the guy struggling not to drink down the social club with a pint of orange is not a way forward. I am a recovering alcoholic with 9 years sobriety in AA. There was no helpline or information line given (unless it wasn`t included on i player repeat). I know AA is not for everyone, but I see it working around me, and giving people their lives back. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.

  • Comment number 34.

    I have just watched Dying for a Drink (in the '70s it was Dying for a Fag) on i-Player. It does not surprise me at the extent of the damage being done. The drinks industry, the Tory early 90s and worse still Labour governments from '97 created this unprecendented situation affecting much younger people than before. When the rave culture was at it's peak late 80s early 90s the drinks industry was concerned that the young were not being introduced to alcohol as before, they had rejected alcohol in favour of drugs. You can't dance if you're drunk! However, they fought back with insiduous alcopops and government conivance to help create the terrible siuation we have today. Well done Panorama, we need more programmes like this.

  • Comment number 35.

    I know my comment is late ,but I watched the programe on August 2011. Alcohol is damaging and killing people.The dont realise the effects on their bodies the long term effects damage.My health has been badly damaged not by alcohol, but by prescription drugs prescribed by doctors. Alcohol and prescription drugs all make loads of profits money. They are all sold to make money not for good health as the are all toxic to the body and no one thinks of the long term effect just a quick fix.

  • Comment number 36.

    I am finding it increasingly frustrating that the media is not differentiating between alcoholics and people who drink too much. They are NOT the same thing and need to be treated differently. I know plenty of people who drink irresponsibly but who are not alcoholics. An alcoholic is ADDICTED and has little choice over their behaviour, which is why abstinence is the only way. Whereas heavy drinkers could certainly cut down. Do you see why the distinction is important? Raising alcohol prices or cutting opening hours will NOT help an alcoholic to stop drinking or to manage their illness, whereas it may be an effective measure in helping 'normal' people to be more sensible about their drinking habits. They are entirely different topics.

    Beth Burgess
    Recovery coach (and alcoholic)

 

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