Talk about Newsnight

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Tuesday, 21 November, 2006

  • Newsnight
  • 21 Nov 06, 05:54 PM

boozea.jpgThe devastating effects of alcoholism in Britain; the likely impact of the Beirut assassination; and analysis of a new multibillion-dollar nuclear fusion project. Plus, we look back at the life and times of the director Robert Altman.

Comment on Tuesday's programme here.

Comments  Post your comment

"$12.8 billion Nuclear Fusion project...." What an amazing coincidence that a nuclear 'fusion' project should have the number 128 attached to it, when it was the self-same number 128 (after it was perverted, denigrated and corrupted), that brought us the fatal 'brother' of fusion - nuclear fission - on a plate.
After, of course, 'rubbing out' or removing from all sources, the age-old knowledge of fusion and non-polluting energy and power from the sustainable natural resources of sun, water and wind.

No wonder the 'Tree of Knowledge' and its fruit were banned according to the Bible - the psychotic concentration camp Zionist, Illuminati commandos would have nothing to declare themselves the all-commanding and all-conquering Masters of the Universe with.
How disgusting.
Why don't we all start talking about that ??

  • 2.
  • At 10:43 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Gavin Russell wrote:

What a well put together programme !! It was a bit to the bone at times BUT a programme about this needs graphic detail to perhaps shock people into seeing the fatal side of alcohol rather than the "fun" side of booze . Well done Paul Watson

  • 3.
  • At 11:00 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

The NHS is not doing enought to tackle this problem, i am 1 nurse in a team of 5 for a hugh borough. Over the last 6 months we have seen referrals to the service trebbled. How can 5 people treat a population of 35,000 poeple effectivly?

  • 4.
  • At 11:03 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Polly Hawkins wrote:

Brilliant programme on BBC 2 regarding Alcoholism. Why has Alcoholics Anonymous not be mentioned once? Kind regards

  • 5.
  • At 11:04 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Ben Laws wrote:

I work for the London Ambulance Service and have done for 9 years.

I would suggest that 30% of the 999 emergency calls I attend on a daily and nightly basis are alcohol related.

One could argue that alcohol is not only killing those who consume it but also those people who have to wait for an ambulance as we are busy dealing with these alcohol related calls.

  • 6.
  • At 11:04 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Juliette Ronayne wrote:

What was missing from the programme was that Alcoholics Anonymous have an extensive programme for all levels of alcoholics and a massive success rate. I think should be flagged up as the plight of alcoholics is not all doom.

  • 7.
  • At 11:04 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • arwen wrote:

ALCOHOL Why is this substance legal!!!!!! Canabis, Coacaine and Heroin are illegal - Surely alcohol is as much if not a bigger strain on our NHS - It kills.

  • 8.
  • At 11:05 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Brian Martin wrote:

Paul Weston's film is an exceptional and important piece of television. It is to be hoped that it will be the "Kathy Come Home" of the alchol debate and the beginning of the end of alcohol abuse as an acceptable aspect of life in Britain.

  • 9.
  • At 11:05 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Sandra wrote:

As a recovering alcoholic myself,i'd like to say well done Paul Watson on highlighting what alcohol can do to people,thier lifes and that of thier families.

I am so pleased to read that Mark is now a recovering alcoholic.

If this program helps 1 person to look at the amount they drink that is excellant.

  • 10.
  • At 11:06 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Brian Martin wrote:

Paul Weston's film is an exceptional and important piece of television. It is to be hoped that it will be the "Kathy Come Home" of the alcohol debate and the beginning of the end of alcohol abuse as an acceptable aspect of life in Britain.

  • 11.
  • At 11:08 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Juliette Ronayne wrote:

The alcoholic needs a complete progamme in order to recover successfully which is both pychological and physical. Our doctors are only dealing with the physical symptoms of the alccoholic and not the deeper issues which are what the alcoholic is running away from. This is dealt with by Alcoholic anonymous.

Can I point out how utterly sick I am of VERY well paid doctors and interviewers saying the answer to everything is to raise the price? Road, Airtravel, now drink. It won't affect them IN THE LEAST, but already I couldn't afford a night out at the pub, and a bottle of wine is a TREAT. Their answer is always to soak the average person with more tax, safe in the knowledge that THEY can afford whatever is being supertaxed anyway.

  • 13.
  • At 11:08 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • paul wrote:

will western econmic society collaps if we stop drinding!!! just think about the revenue!!!!!

  • 14.
  • At 11:10 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Ivonne Holliday wrote:

The cost, whether high or low, of alcohol will not necessarily have a major impact on consumption by alcoholics.

Culture is the main stumbling block, as is lack of education hand-in-hand with lack of prospects.

Alcoholics need help, but please, could we all stop making alcohol such a "fun thing"! How many times have we heard the comment about going to a party which was such fun, "I got totally plastered and can remember nothing".

  • 15.
  • At 11:12 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Russell Cook wrote:

I thought the documentary on alcoholism was incredibly good and highlighted the fact that the facilities to deal with the problem just don't exist - in East Devon there are only two dedicated workers dealing with alcohol problems and their funding has actually been withdrawn, so when people are looking for help they can't find it. If the Government is serious about this problem it should put some serious funding into it.

  • 16.
  • At 11:12 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • John Wilson wrote:

Rain in My Heart was an impressive programme. Message to Paul Watson: If you had first undergone even a short course in counsellings skills you would have been better equipped to talk to your subjects and would have ended up with a far more powerful dialogue. I would welcome the oppotunity to discuss this further with Paul Watson.

  • 17.
  • At 11:15 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • I.G. Tew wrote:

Why no comment on AA the only way an alcoholic can stop drinking and stay stopped.

  • 18.
  • At 11:16 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • VJ wrote:

Jeremy forgot to ask the panel about the impact of advertising on the public's alcohol consumption. Glamorous, trendy adverts with pop-video styling and soundtracks are fueling the problem. Surely the Govt knows that it's time for a complete ban on all alcohol advertising and sponsorship.

  • 19.
  • At 11:16 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Paula wrote:

My mums an alcoholic and im glad this programme has been aired as I think the suffering the families go though is ignored. I think its unfair that money is ploughed into things of no real importance yet each day me my brothers and sister and all our children are suffering as there is no help for us or to help care for our mum. It may be a self inflicted illness but so is drug addiction and obesety and smoking related cancers. I think the goverment is responsible to find money to help us families of drinkers. Thank god for alanon

  • 20.
  • At 11:17 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • milton janovitz wrote:

A very well made and important programme and an example of what television can be for. The unhappy people illustrated had severe issues to deal with and had wrongly turned to alcohol as an answer to those problems. This had nothing to do with cheap booze or 'happy hour' or the drinks industry and everything to do with the human condition and the tragedy of humanity and the question of choice. No amount of love or caring could have solved the problem. This was an inherent prediliction to self destruct and the instrument of choice was alcohol.

  • 21.
  • At 11:17 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • shane lanigan wrote:

Unfortunatly peoples lives will continue to to be ruined until the government admits that acohol is a dangerous drug and starts educaing people about all drugs. Not just the ones that are deemed illegal. Also it must be honest education, free from the bias of tax revenue and corporate interest. Only then can we start combating the damage that has been done by all drug abuse. Drug use has many beneficial effects. Drug abuse rots the fabric of the people that make up our society. I am in Ireland, which has drug laws about 15 years behind the U.K. Sadly we all have a long long way to go

  • 22.
  • At 11:17 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • James Harrison wrote:

Why did a seemingly middle-class film maker follow the alcohol problems of such a typical 'stereotyped' group of hard-core drinkers - people who occupy the pages of the tabloid press everyday?

Where was the 70+ middle-class man or woman, from a respectable background who faces the same kind of demons as those experienced by the film's contributors?

Paul Watson's documentary only went so far - it told us nothing new, and although desperately sad, will probably make no difference when it comes to the government tackling alcohol abuse in the same way it attempts to deal with heroin, cocaine or even cannabis.

The film should have juxtaposed images of the endless shelves of booze in our supermarkets, off-licences and even pubs.

As long as alcohol is portrayed as acceptable we will continue to see people like those shown in Watson's documentary.

  • 23.
  • At 11:18 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Brian wrote:

Congratulations to Paul Watson and the BBC for showing this film and for Newsnight for discussing the issues. There are two fundamental issues here: firstly, the drinking culture in the Uk which is promoted by the drinks industry and which the Government refuses to control, secondly, the failure of the Government to recognise the problem of alcohol and to fund solutions. I feel for the hospital doctor who can do no more than treat the phyical effects (admirably and with dedication) whilst there is no real support for the mental health and psychiatric and addition problems. The Chair of the Health Committee suggested that alcoholics should be made to pay for treatment. He should be shamed and ashamed. This is typical of the common failure to recognise alcoholism as an illness like any other.

  • 24.
  • At 11:18 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • David Burr wrote:

Rain in my heart. Well done Paul Watson and BBC. A harrowing programme that realy got the message across, to me anyway. The Government must take heed and support all organisations involved in dealing with this tragic problem. Social Services, NHS in particular the Mental Health Sector needs more funding and a major revamp.

  • 25.
  • At 11:18 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Fanatastic programme about such an important yet overlooked subject area. It was nice to see a member of the Portman Group almost squirm against the calm and well thought-out counter argument of Dr Laing. The preceeding programme was harrowing and I, now in recovery, have had a lucky escape from that. This however does not come without the admission, submission and hard work of the individual concerned. Other support services can only begin when the person can help themselves.
AA and NA member in recovery

A shocking but necessary programme even though I have lived my life with an alcoholic father and brother!
The general public need to see this in order to question how we treat alcoholics within our caring Western culture!!
I have had first hand personal experience of someone self-medicating with alocohol due to mental health issues. The programme reflected my experiences exactly with regard to attempting to attain help from both the national health and social services
When are we going to wake up to this huge issue?
There are literally hundreds of thousands of individuals suffering with mental health issues who are forced to self medicate due to the incompetent health and social services departments in the UK
It is TIME that the government realised that they need to fund these areas- leaving mentally ill human beings to drink themselves to death is no answer.
How can Britain find money to fund a war when we have no money to care for those vulnerable members of our community?
I am ashamed to call myself a member of this human race!!

  • 27.
  • At 11:18 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Fran wrote:

Alcoholics Anonymous helps 1000s of people worldwide recover from the DISEASE of alcoholism. I feel the debate was very one sided focusing on the problem and giving no real solution to individuals suffering from alcoholism.

  • 28.
  • At 11:18 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Alistair Miles wrote:

Labelling drinks products with the number of alcohol units contained will not reduce the risk of alcoholism. It will do the opposite. Young people will use the number of units they can consume to compete with each other for status.

Increasing the cost of drinking may reduce alcohol consumption in the young, and so may have a limited positive effect.

But people drink because they hurt inside. Drink itself is not the problem, and stopping people drinking will only cause the problem to manifest in another way. The way forward lies in understand the root, and the healing, of emotional illness.

  • 29.
  • At 11:19 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • michele ryan wrote:

Rain in My Heart was an extraordinary documentary that was both powerful and moving. It also stands as a beacon for all those documentaries that have been lost to TV as ratings push broadcasters into pumping out more reality TV interspersed with the odd investigative documentary. British televsion used to produce documentaries of this calibre on a regular basis - now we have to go to the cinema or watch them on the web. What a missed opprtunity.

Paul Watson's commitment to the idea and the people involved was evident and honourable and the courage of these four people in allowing him into their lives was impressive. The debate on Newsnight could only touch on the subject, but more care has to be given to those suffering from the disease alongside introducing measures to bring the drinks industry into touch and to create a different cultural alternative for young people. The whole issue is a devastating indictment of our society.

  • 30.
  • At 11:19 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Sally Carruthers wrote:

I myself am a recovering alcoholic, and I NEEDED to watch tonights documentry to remind myself of just how very dangerous excessive alcohol cosumption is.

I am now able to work full time and run my own small business, when only three and a half years ago, I was so emotionaly 'shot' I could only work two days per week.

It shocks and worries me that there are so many emotionaly and psychologicaly damaged people in our society, who become so cut of, that they resort to alcohol to problem solve.

  • 31.
  • At 11:20 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Juliet Davis wrote:

This programme was of great interest, very well done and captured exactly the despair of being powerless that I feel as the mother of my 49yr old alcoholic daughter, nearly at the end,in Wexham Park Hospital Slough (for the umpteenth time). Dr Smith-Lang was brilliant and came across well in the subsequent debate on Newsnight.

  • 32.
  • At 11:21 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Lalita Banerjee wrote:

Excellent programme aiming directly at the root of the alcohol problem and the domino effects caused
However, I feel that the time and channel was not ideal for targeting the at risk population
Any such important message should be repeated many times on various channels.
I've heard so many times from young binge drinkers 'It will never happen to me'
There was also another problem highlighted, that being the lack of interface between secondary care and social / mental services

  • 33.
  • At 11:22 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Suzy Andrews wrote:

Future generations may well look back at us and despair at how poorly we have looked after our fellow citizens.

For the sake of those who cannot limit their intake of alcohol and who suffer the consequences, why not double the cost of all alcoholic drinks and see what that does to consumption.

And, while we're at it, do the same for cigarettes.

Use the increased taxes to contribute towards the medical costs of treatment.

  • 34.
  • At 11:23 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • A.McKelvey wrote:

A very interesting ,and deeply disturbing programme.I too suffer from the effects of this life threating "illness".
What I would have liked ,was for the programme to expound on the theories of why certain people can succumb to the compulsion,while others are not effected.
It would have presented a fairer side ,rather than a viewing audience
to say.."oh well they have only themselves to blame"
For in the fullness of the debate a lack of medical services and especially social aspects (as ,has been personal experience)came out sadly lacking..

  • 35.
  • At 11:23 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Mark's Friend wrote:

The dangers of alchohol are all too apparent, when you see those affected in this 'no-holds-barred' way.

Sadly, the behaviour of alcoholics is very different when they need it to be, and you rarely see how bad things are before it is too late.

One of the subjects of this programme has been a dear friend of mine for 14 years - yet tonight's show shocked even me.

To see someone you love, once so full of fun and life, left so ill and unhappy is heartbreaking.

When you consider that this is all down to just seems like such a waste.

  • 36.
  • At 11:23 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • LouiseMarie wrote:

The documentary was very moving and I would like to add that as a predecessor to the medical problems; an alcoholic whilst drunk is more likely to commit a violent crime. The images of Vanda smashing up her telephone after an unsatisfactory altercation wtih her partner are so easily repeated on another human being if they are in the way.
If prosecuted for a crime of assault There is nowhere to get help for an alcohol problem. If you are lucky enough to escape prison you will be sent on a course(IDAPS)a cognitive course to address issues of violence- even though cognitive reasoning is severely diminished when drunk.
If put in prison you will receive no help because the CARAT (care and rehabilitation assessment team)team are not funded to help alcoholics - only drug users. The reason I am lead to believe is because drug users cost the tax payer more because the crime is likely to involve robbery- whereas the alcoholic is likely to be involved in a violent crime

  • 37.
  • At 11:25 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Vivian Evans wrote:

An excellent programme - unfortunately too many alcoholics will not identify with the people whose stories were told. Too many alcoholics are convinced that this will never happen to them, that they are in control and can stop when they want. Too many alcoholics think that they are not ill, they think they are normal, they are in work - so whats the prob?
Too many alcoholics will not listen because it interferes with their "fun".
I know this - my husband was an alcoholic. He died of an alcohol-related illness: cancer of the oesophagus. He basically in the end drowned in his own blood.
Before he died, he said he wished he had listened to reason, he wished he had not swigged all the wodka and gin and wine down his throat. Now it was too late.
One cannot help an alcoholic who is bent on drinking and self-destruction. Making drinks more expensive will not help because it will not stop the craving. It will however bring many more families to despair as more of their meagre income will go on drink.
What might be useful is to make those pay who are admitted to the A & E departments every weekend up and down the country - as the MP said. This money can then be used to help those who really want to recover from their alcoholism. Not every alcoholic finds their way to AA, not every alcoholic can work with the AA programme.
If a few people stop drinking or at least question their alcohol consumption, then this BBC programme will have done good work.

  • 38.
  • At 11:25 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Cllr. Peter Dunning wrote:

Here we go again! We can solve all this country's problems by taxing them out of existance. Global warming, increase tax on fuel, smoking, increase tax on tobacco, now it's alcoholism, increase tax on alcohol! THIS DOES NOT WORK! I remember when we were told that the prospect of the price of petrol reaching £1 per GALLON (not litre!) would reduce fuel consumption significantly - it never happened. The issue is a cultural one, these problems with alcohol do not exist on the contintent where alcohol is significantly cheaper than here,so where is the evidence for going down this road?
We should be asking ourselves what it is about living in the UK in 2006 that is causing people to take this path of self-destruction?
Cllr. Peter Dunning.
Trearddur Bay,

  • 39.
  • At 11:25 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • sheila wrote:

I found the programme on alcoholism very hard-hitting and would like to phone the number you displayed on screen but was unable to write it down quickly enough. Would you please e mail me the number.
Many thanks

  • 40.
  • At 11:26 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • A Maertyn wrote:

The alcoholics filmed smoked yet cigarettes are labelled. I do not believe labelling is 'fundamental' to solving the problem as Dr. Smith- Laing said.
There is a free treatment for the alcoholic. AA. The only reliable treatment there is.
Yes - education
Yes - withdrawal help
yes - AA

Some will always slip through the net no matter what is done. Alcoholism is a potentially fatal 'dis-ease'.

Do not blame the drinks industry. We drink as free individuals. Alcoholism is a self inflicted illness. It is the mind set - not the drink - which is the problem.
And never negotiate with a drunk when he is drunk. There is no point.
The film maker did that. All you get is resentment, self pity and finger pointing from the alcoholic.

  • 41.
  • At 11:28 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Keith Searle wrote:

Margaret & Keith Searle, Crowborough , East Sussex

Our son, David was a normal young man when he left home to go to University. He died last year aged twenty seven - an alcoholic. He was encouraged to drink too much along with many of his peers by "the pound a pint" mentality at the student union.
Our son tried many times during the last six years to overcome his illness but he found the struggle too much. His was a fast track to certain death. His alcoholism consisted of heavy bouts of binge drinking interspersed with periods of sobriety.
When he was drinking he was driven and unreasonable and lacked judgment when he was sober he was such a beautiful person, kind considerate and always hopeful. We worked tirelessly to try to get him help but none was available in East Sussex the only assistance we could get when it was really needed was to pay for it privately.
Doctors, ambulance men, police, social workers and alcohol charities all believe in a policy of non intervention but in our experience there are certain times when it is appropriate and intervention is vital.
We found that whilst the alcoholic may get immediate health for emergency treatment our health service does not have the capacity or desire to take this any further. All the time Doctors do not understand the disease of alcoholism and are willing to abandon their patient there is no hope for the alcoholic and less so for the parents and carers who are desperate to find some glimmer of help. If ever there was a case where joined up thinking should be used this is it.
Paul Watson’s programme took us right back and his words that it was like watching “some poor animal in distress” has some resonance with us – but one thing we know for sure is that people in this country would not let an animal be treated as badly as young alcoholics are. Particularly here in East Sussex.
Our son is now at peace but your programme said there is a long way to go and our society has a long way to go in understand ding this terrible disease.
Although we lost the fight to save our son we are determined to continue to educate, help and use our experience in any way we can to stop other families suffering as we have done

  • 42.
  • At 11:28 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Nick Holmes wrote:

Paul Watson's programme was an excellent portrayal of the realities of an alcoholics final days and the effects on family and friends. I have already buried an alcoholic business partner, followed shortly afterwards by my alcoholic wife. currently my alcoholic lodger has just left 8 weeks hospitalisation with liver cirrossis.

ALCOHOLISM IS A DISEASE, characterised so well in the film by the aspect of denial.

Jeremy Paxman's opening question "weren't these extreme cases?", simply illustrates the general public denial of the risks of drinking.

Social drinking is fine. However anyone exceeding the recommended max. number of units each week is at risk of ending up like those portrayed, if you don't die of something else first.

  • 43.
  • At 11:29 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • R Pring wrote:

With regard to Mark in Paul Watsons film. How sad and distressing for him and his family.I have personal experience of how Mark is feeling and of his behaviorPaul Watson said"I want to understand" The root cause is due to medication-particularly Benzodiazapines (tranquilisers)Actually it is their withdrawal or irregular use. These symptoms can persist for very many months

  • 44.
  • At 11:30 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • janet harcourt wrote:

Good to expose the 'end of the line' in Paul Watson's documentary on alcoholism - but the huge outlay of funding to help people get over the physical effects of alcoholism, only to throw them back on themselves when they are discharged was depressing in the extreme. There was no mention made of organisations like Alcoholics Anonymous [where we have all 'been there' and DO understand],or Al-Anon for the families of alcoholics. I stopped drinking years ago, but doubt very much if I would have made it without the support of fellow recovering alcoholics.
Also isn't it time that the acceptance of the unacceptable was looked at ? It seems that the social norm now is to get 'off your face'every weekend night, smash up people and property and abuse the police and health services who have to pick up the pieces.

  • 45.
  • At 11:30 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Beki Habberley wrote:

I watched tonights programme in great discomfort, it was horrific and so common. i work within social care and also have people in my life whom i watch slowly kill themselves. Attitudes to alcoholism particulary within health and social care are judgemental and disjointed. More indepth psychological support needs to be made available to people to overcome issues they may have instead of putting a plaster over a problem to cover it up. Young people i work with are also turning more and more to alcohol to numb the pain and damage within their lives. This issue is huge and doesn't only affect the class of people represented within the programme. The realities of drinking made available to the viewer were shown with great respect from the film maker.

  • 46.
  • At 11:34 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Lorraine wrote:

My only daughter died at the age of 25 leaving a 6 year old daughter that I now care for. She did not come from a family of drinkers but died an alcoholic 6 years ago. It reduced her from a lovely vibrant young woman to a homeless drunk in just 5 years. Her last weeks were spent on the streets having given up her daughter because she could no longer care for herself. This programme was horrific and a painful reminder of what she (and her family)we went through before her death. We must wake up in this country to the dangers of excessive drinking and yet it is promoted as the key element to having a good time.

  • 47.
  • At 11:35 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Lisa Drabble wrote:

I agree with Gavin. The daughter of an alcoholic, I thought the documentary was excellently put together, immaculately illustrating the effects of alcoholism on both the addicts and their families. Well done indeed Paul Watson - I think your film will help the public to truly understand the term 'alcoholic'.

  • 48.
  • At 11:36 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Mike wrote:

I do wish people would stop looking in the wrong places for the cause of the 'alcohol problem' in this country.

People blame 24 hour drinking, yet other countries manage to have 24 hour drinking without a problem.

People suggest putting up the price, but cheaper alcohol in other countries doesn't cause a problem.

It is something inherent in our culture. Unfortunately I don't have the answers as to what that 'something' is and how to deal with it, but it's more than many of the superfluous reasons that politicians normally concentrate on.

Our own NHS doesn't help by generally shunning alcoholics on the basis that 'they did it to themselves so don't deserve the treatment'.

Where does that stop? Someone who doesn't look both ways crossing the road 'did it to themselves' - do we stop treating that?

Anyone involved in sport who gets an injury didn't *have* to be involved in that sport - do we stop treating them?

Perhaps we should establish who caused a road accident at the scene and only take the 'innocent' party to hospital.

If we're going to stop treating anyone who is in some way to blame for their injury of disease, we'd certainly free up a lot of hospital beds!

Believe me, I've seen this first hand. I know a guy who was on 2 bottles of Vodka a day for 5 years and was desperate to get off it. He needed medical help but the NHS wouldn't touch him.

In the end he passed out one day and his girlfriend called an ambulance so they *had* to take him in. Reluctantly they treated him for withdrawal symptoms and devastating DTs.

That was 10 years ago and he's been sober since, although he does have some liver damage.

Had the NHS dealt with his illness earlier he have been sober sooner and not had the damaged liver. Furthermore, it probably would have cost the tax payer less to nip it in the bud as soon as possible rather than pay for the 2 weeks of treatment, the drugs for his liver and the psychiatric after-care he had to have in the end.

I find that people who've never really known a chronic alcoholic can easily dismiss them as somehow getting themselves into that situation. Maybe that's true in the beginning, but once they're there it manifests like a disease and the sufferer has no more control over it than a person with cancer has over their disease.

  • 49.
  • At 11:41 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Neil Tasker wrote:

Interesting to see another recovering alcoholic who NEEDED to watch tonights documentary. The programme should be compulsory viewing for all 12/13 year olds in school. How much would it cost to do this? Not a lot and we could get the drinks industry to pay for it into the bargain. Lobby your M.P.

  • 50.
  • At 11:43 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Heather Ross wrote:

In October this year, a very close friend died of a stroke brought about by cirrosis and related health problems. He was 38 years old and lived for only 15 months after his initial diagnosis.

It seems that cirrosis is affecting the population at a much younger age and that we are on the verge of an epidemic. The relationship that alot of people have with alcohol is frightening and I think that this gritty programme should be shown to older school children so that the dangers of excessive drinking are visible and discussed.

In the following debate the doctor featured in the programme is absolutely correct and I agree, wholeheartedly, with his opinions. It would have been interesting to have had a spokesperson from Alcoholics Anonymous as well. Excessive drinking can kill and perhaps it's time to put that on bottles of booze.

A graphic and intrusive programme on the horrors of alcoholism that,regrettably, didn't touch
on remedies, other than death or transplant surgery for such acute sufferers .There are some amazing examples of recovery from such acute levels of alcohol dependence ever present on a worldwide basis in Alcoholics Anonymous today--but the medical profession does not seem happy to recognise the role and place for AA as a possible avenue of treatment.

  • 52.
  • At 11:45 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Rosie Brocklehurst wrote:

It is not possible to get inside the mind of an alcoholic perhaps unless you have been one,as I have been, but this was the next best thing. Terrifically well done Paul Watson and the Medway Maritime Hospital and the compassionate hospital doctor.
I am 22 years sober now- and suffered at the hands of my poor father who was violent. My father died of alcoholism in the same way as one of the poor souls in the film died. His father before him was an alcoholic and beat him. And so it goes on from generation to generation with underlying mental health problems. That is simply the loss of identity and the brutality which alcoholism is a symptom of and a trigger for. It is possible to get well but it is resource intensiveand it is hugely expensive and there is no guarantee it will work as in other types of problem/ilness.But people don't have half a chance at the moment. Excellent and rare documentary. Well done too to Jeremy Paxman for the apposite and probing questions and giving the last word to the doctor. I was the Director of Communications for Addaction for six years one of the largest treatment charities for drugs and alcohol(who receive very little for alcohol). The Dept of Health have done little but played second fiddle to the DCMS and the Home Office on alcohol. The whole focus is on Respect and crime and ensuring the night-time economy survives.
Government always uses the psychiatric morbidity household survey 2000 to say there is no evidence to show that anyone under the age of 30 in the UK is a 'severe alcoholic' as defined by DSMIV. They are all in thrall to the Retail Industry and to the powerful alcohol industry . Did you know they have put a DCMS policy official in charge of the Drinkaware Trust -The Trust's remit is not to give any money for treatment, because that's for others to do they say, but only for education/prevention and very little of that. A £30 bn industy providing about £8 million through the Drinkaware Trust and a little to the Portman Group for promoting the industry. Actually no one knows what the Portman Groups role is any more. Alcohol is an addiction - and if that silly MP who suggested people who have a drink problem should pay for treatment, thinks that is going to cure alcoholism, he is not only mad but should be fired. Such actions would target the poorest, the most vulnerable and the most excluded. I could say more. Well done Jeremy for giving that insightful and compassionate doctor the last word.

  • 53.
  • At 11:46 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Ellie wrote:

My brother was an alcoholic for over 40 years. He lost his marriage and son because of it, he lost jobs because of it, he was in and out of detox many times, and it almost killed him. When he couldn't struggle with this any longer he surrendered his life to Jesus and through the power of God has literallly been given his life back. He drank enough to kill him but his liver is fine and he now no longer craves alcohol. He has a successful business and his relationship with his son has been restored. Only the very real power of God can deliver a person from this illness. My brother is living proof of this. Please call on the name of Jesus to help you if you are suffering from alcohol addiction. It will save your life.

  • 54.
  • At 11:49 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Cllr. Peter Dunning wrote:

Here we go again! We can solve all this country's problems by taxing them out of existance. Global warming, increase tax on fuel, smoking, increase tax on tobacco, now it's alcoholism, increase tax on alcohol! THIS DOES NOT WORK! I remember when we were told that the prospect of the price of petrol reaching £1 per GALLON (not litre!) would reduce fuel consumption significantly - it never happened. The issue is a cultural one, these problems with alcohol do not exist on the contintent where alcohol is significantly cheaper than here,so where is the evidence for going down this road?
We should be asking ourselves what it is about living in the UK in 2006 that is causing people to take this path of self-destruction?
Cllr. Peter Dunning.
Trearddur Bay,

  • 55.
  • At 11:50 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Johnathon Weare wrote:

I am glad to see some coverage of the fusion research. Refreshing that a news programme aims to cover such a long-term issue, and correctly sets the importance in the context of the emerging global warming emergency. Considering cost projections that are banded around for global warming, I would say that the programme could have gone much further in pressing the government to explore different options in parallel - action for raising the profile, priority and most importantly the funding for ITER. At this point, would it not be most prudent to set visions for a sustainable future.

  • 56.
  • At 11:51 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • LouiseMarie wrote:

To R. Pring.
These symptoms can appear with alcohol use alone and although identical to benzodiazepine withdrawal it is not necassarily so that Mark was abusing Benzodiazepines, I am a psychiatric mental health nurse and have seen both types of withdrawel and they can be remarkably similar

  • 57.
  • At 11:53 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Michelle wrote:

This was a brilliant programme highlighting the real problem alcoholic's go through. I worked as a healthcare assisstant on a general ward dealing with alcoholic's. I left to become a qualified Mental Health nurse and still do not understand why mental health nurses are not on these wards, only general nurses who see to their medical problems, then let the patients go home to continue the cycle. Why are mental health nurses not employed on these wards to help the patients and follow them up after discharge?

  • 58.
  • At 11:54 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Lalita Banerjee wrote:

Excellent programme addressing a very important issue and the domino
effects that can result from it
However,the timing of the programme and the channel on which it was aired, I feel, will not target the at risk population
I feel an important issue, like this, should be repeated at different times and on different channels
As other people have stated, the lack of interface between secondary and social/ mental care needs to be addressed
However, we should not always BLAME the government for not doing enough -
people should take more responsibilty for their actions

  • 59.
  • At 11:56 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Tony G wrote:

As a recovered alcoholic myself (11 years sober), I was unenlightened by what I heard from the panel, but I congratulate the BBC on at least confronting their public with the horror of the disease.

As a drinking alcoholic, it didn't matter how much booze cost. I had to have it, and would get it any which way.

Counting units is irrelevant to someone who can only get peace of mind by drinking enough to do that. The amount required increases as the illness progresses. How many units are there in a daily quart-bottle of Famous Grouse?

How did I recover? I fell in with a bunch of people who really understand the problem - other alcoholics who were themselves working on recovery - in my case, Alcoholics Anonymous.

The panel seemed to be discussing solutions to the current binge-drinking epidemic, but this is irrelevant to alcoholics like me who were lit up by their first drink and continued to chase the sensation, coming to depend on drink to feel normal.

There's a world of difference between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic - and the latter is rarely the corollary of the former. Before I drank, I was an alcoholic waiting to happen, and no amount of legislation, short of total prohibition, would change that.

  • 60.
  • At 12:05 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Roddy Cowie wrote:

Newsnight's alcohol expert demonstrates why 'experts' like this don't convince people. According to him (a) about 1/3 of adult males drink above safe limits, and fewer females; (b) 20,000 die of alcohol abuse per year. But 20,000 is 1/25th of deaths per annum, not 1/3 or anything like it. In other words, the limits are set to warn people off drinking at levels that are very unlikely to kill them. If they want to stop deaths, they should try being credible.

  • 61.
  • At 12:07 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Penny Bunn wrote:

Rain In My Heart: GREAT doco - and thank goodness somebody's finally made a film that showed the horrors of alcohol abuse as they REALLY are! All credit to Dr Gray Smith-Lang - an absolute gentleman to his patients, obviously caring and concerned and a guy with a lot of guts, to speak out the way he has against the system. Infuriating to see the guy from the Portman Group and Kevin Barron, trying to justify themselves - and how interesting that the Minister declined to take part! Alcohol service users groups are doing their best to make the Government, and the alcohol producers, admit to the public how very dangerous this substance is, but they refuse to do that. Why? Because they make SO MUCH MONEY out of selling alcohol, and that is the height and sides of the thing. They are making billions out of people who drink (any quantities) and I doubt they will EVER really admit the damage that is being done, or try to educate the public about alcohol's effects. Why would they care about a few thousand deaths each year, compared to the billions they are making in profit selling this stuff? As for the NHS - mostly, it fails dismally to do enough. Most medical personnel do not receive sufficient training to know how to deal with alcohol abuse, or how to treat patients sympathetically. Specialists such as Dr Gray Smith-Lang are few and far between and the communication between hospital departments (liver ward and mental health department, for example) and Social Services is appalling. For as long as there is such bad inter-service communication, the aftercare and support will not be there and people will continue to die, no matter how hard the likes of Dr Gray-Smith work to change that. Furthermore, I wish the NHS and MPs would stop trying to highlight how much it costs to TREAT all these people; surely, the amount of money coming INTO the NHS, from sales of alcohol, more than makes up for the costs of treating those who run into trouble with it? Dr Gray-Smith is right - many drinkers consume alcohol for psychological reasons, not necessarily straightforward addiction. Those patients need a lot of psychiatric counselling, on an intensive basis (NOT once a month, as Vanda mentioned) from the specialist alcohol services - whose funding has JUST BEEN CUT, again! Clients of alcohol services in Nottingham are already seeing the awful results of the recent cuts to alcohol service funding. So, PLEASE don't anybody tell me that the likes of the Portman Group, or the Government, have grounds to claim they are 'helping' anybody! Thanks, Jeremy Paxman, for asking the searching questions that nobody ever wants to answer about alcohol. Thanks to everybody involved for making such a fantastic documentary and to Newsnight for challenging the people who have the power to change it, but have no intention of ever doing so!

  • 62.
  • At 12:09 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • LouiseMarie wrote:

I am amazed by these comments, I have just pressed charges against my ex partner for assaulting me whilst he was drunk. I have tried for 11 years to communicate his problem, but he is an itelligent man who holds down a full time job- wheres the problem. Although he can not remember beating me, i must have 'wound him up' because he had had a few beers and was in a good mood.
I thought I was the alone in trying to support someone through this terrible time. The political angle only make for a more interesting debate.

  • 63.
  • At 12:17 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Malcom wrote:

In response to Mr Cowie - I think you may have misunderstood the stats. There is obviously a delayed impact of long-term excess drinking over the recommended units - so we could see a signficant increase in alcohol-related deaths in the long-term as the ongoing trend of drinking above the recommended limits continues to rise.

The death of Nigel in the programme highlighted this very well - he had not consumed alcohol for a decade, yet his death was due to previous abuse.

How do you suggest the unit limit be sent - surely not a level that would cause instant death?

  • 64.
  • At 12:26 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Keith & Margaret Searle wrote:

Margaret & Keith Searle, Our son, David was a normal young man when he left home to go to University. He died last year aged twenty seven - an alcoholic. He was encouraged to drink too much along with many of his peers by "the pound a pint" mentality at the student union.
Our son tried many times during the last six years to overcome his illness but he found the struggle too much. His was a fast track to certain death. His alcoholism consisted of heavy bouts of binge drinking interspersed with periods of sobriety.
When he was drinking he was driven and unreasonable and lacked judgment when he was sober he was such a beautiful person, kind considerate and always hopeful. We worked tirelessly to try to get him help but none was available in East Sussex the only assistance we could get when it was really needed was to pay for it privately.
Doctors, ambulance men, police, social workers and alcohol charities all believe in a policy of non intervention but in our experience there are certain times when it is appropriate and intervention is vital.
We found that whilst the alcoholic may get immediate health for emergency treatment our health service does not have the capacity or desire to take this any further. All the time Doctors do not understand the disease of alcoholism and are willing to abandon their patient there is no hope for the alcoholic and less so for the parents and carers who are desperate to find some glimmer of help. If ever there was a case where joined up thinking should be used this is it.
Paul Watson’s programme took us right back and his words that it was like watching “some poor animal in distress” has some resonance with us – but one thing we know for sure is that people in this country would not let an animal be treated as badly as young alcoholics are. Particularly here in East Sussex.
Our son is now at peace but your programme said there is a long way to go and our society has a long way to go in understand ding this terrible disease.
Although we lost the fight to save our son we are determined to continue to educate, help and use our experience in any way we can to stop other families suffering as we have done

  • 65.
  • At 12:46 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Mike wrote:

An excellent documentary but missing one vital ingredient. AA.
Had Paul contacted them, he would have come to understand that the nature of this illness makes it utterly pointless to ask an alcoholic (even a sober one) why they drink. I have been in recovery for 6 years, but when I was an active alcoholic I would have trotted out the same old litany as those in the film:- it's my job, my girl-friend, this town, anything. The truth is that an alcoholic will drink over a broken shoe-lace, no matter how much it cost, whether there's a skull-and-crossbones on the bottle or whether we have honestly promised those that love us that it will never happen again.

This is because alcoholism is a progressive & irreversible DISEASE, the nature of which does not allow us to view our condition objectively. However, the progress can be arrested by abstinence and the only chance of that, in my experience, is through the profound personality change which can be affected (AFTER any necessary de-tox) through regular attendance at AA.

This is freely available to the alcoholic & free to society, so it is surprising to watch an entire documentary plus a studio discussion on the subject where it was not mentioned once. Or perhaps not so surprising since the knee-jerk reaction to most problems these days seems to be more legislation, increase departmental budgets, employ outreach workers etc

  • 66.
  • At 01:16 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Mike Baldwin wrote:

Rain in My Heart was one of the most harrowing documentaries I've ever seen. Congratulations on pulling no punches! Sadly the solutions to the problem advocated by the Newsnight guests seemed to fall a long way short of what is needed to tackle the problem. A lot of people with alcoholism are using it to drown out huge emotional problems, and an increase in the price of drink or better labelling of bottles will do little to stop them.

My main criticism of the documentary itself was the failure of the film-maker to appreciate the damage he might have been doing through his judgmental comments. Telling the 29 year old that his daughter loved him and so it was about time he lived up to his responsibilities showed little insight into the mental agony that this person was already experiencing: it will have made him feel worse. He also made one feel guilty for letting him down by returning to drink after saying she would quit ("I had my money on you..."). But overall, the filmmaker did a good job: the story needed to be told.

Blaming alcoholism is missing the problem. If parents and teachers still had the "old-fashioned" role of actually bringing up kids and daring to stand up to their adolescent demands for more pocket money for more booze, this problem would not exist.

But the slightest suggestion that parents are responsible for the children they have sperm-&-egged into existence is taboo. Hence the result: a bloke who can drink a whole, large, elegantly shaped glass of red plonk and then turn yellow. As we also saw last night, there is nothing moving about stupid and weak parents who let their kids follow every fashion and then risk. The Grim Reaper must be having fun, following the kids around the desolate nighttime city shopping areas.

If this is a reactionary and benighted opinion, please explain in detail why British parents are out of control.

On the whole, Newsnight is improving, coming out of its adolescent hangover of "modernism" and once again tackling issues of cardinal importance.

  • 68.
  • At 04:00 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • slippery wrote:

It is absurd for anyone to push the concept that a person who chooses to drink somehow suffers from a disease.Such behavior is nothing more than self destructive behavior at best.

A person can choose to drink or not.Yes it is that simple.People who have cancer,diabetes,heart problems,etc... are truly victims of diseases of which they have no choice about whether they have it or not.Choosing to drink is not a disease at all.Although if a person engages in self destructive behavior long enough vital organs of their body can indeed become diseased and one can in fact die from such diseased organs brought on by choosing to indulge in self destructive behavior.

All of this talk about the government needing to fund programs to help alcoholics is utter nonsense to say the least.Nothing short of choosing to stop indulging in their choice of self destuctive behavior will work.A person must stop whatever their poor choice of self destructive behavior is in order to stop the potentially deadly outcome of their behavior.

For all of the folks out there who are advocating the snakeoil approach of AA (ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS)might serve themselves well if they indeed educate themselves to what AA really is all about as it has absolutely nothing to do with alcohol and everything to do with religious conversion.AA like anything else is simply contingent upon a person choosing to stop indulging in self destructive behavior.If a person chooses to not stop indulging in the self destructive behavior then even AA will fail them as it has millions of others who have tried it.AA has a staggering dismal failure rate of over 97% and the ones who are of the less than 3% quit all on their own and AA simply steals their credit for doing so.

For info on what AA really is click on the following link:

If the link is not highlighted then copy and paste it in your browser as this site is one that anyone who seeks out AA should investigate prior to contempt.

  • 69.
  • At 05:45 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • James McCann wrote:

I LIVE IN Massachusetts USA; I have not seen the program concerning alcoholism but I must say something based on what I have seen here.
I FEEL QUALIFIED to do this, first, as an inhabitant of this cyberspace (so to speak), and secondly as a genuine, garden-variety alcoholic with more than a decade of clean & sober recovery --- I'm a drunk of the most ghastly stripe, & a drug addict with a catholic taste, you might say, for substances that make me feel, if not better, or high, at least __different__: (the technical term in use here for the species is "garbage-head"). I love the BBC and its Internet presence; quality news reporting & journalism are endangered species in America & often the BBC & the NYTimes are the only reliable sources of information.
As socially and politically active as I am, however, the present state of affairs nationally here, even with the Democratic Party's great victory in the mid-term legislative-branch elections, national news & politics make me want to vomit. [Our Chief Executive is a poison puppet, a nitwit, a Christian Caligula]. So some "civilized" news & commentary is a happy relief, which, until now, I have got from da BB&C.
ANYHOW I PLAN to change my user name after this if I can, because I do not intend to become a focus or spokesperson for abstinence or something like that, and anonymity at the level of press, TV, etc [including I think this stuff] is the spiritual foundation of the program and fellowship to which I owe everything, everything, everything: AA.
MY COMMENT IS simple, after all this intro: it shakes my faith in the quality of the BBC's main job, to read that an entire, impressive (apparently) piece about the relentless and aggressive disease of alcoholism could __POSSIBLY__ be completed and distributed without describing or discussing Alcoholics Anonymous. I hope I have very badly misread the commentary in this here bloggery. I hope the remarks I read are the product ---say--- of intoxicated, delusional witnesses fading in and out of consciousness (we call this state, generally, dry or drunk, "mochussed" ---i.e., have I found a rope, or lost a horse?). But if the producers of a serious BBC piece on alcoholism for some benighted reason either missed or kept out information of some kind about AA, well, I call it a gross, grotesque dereliction of duty (we call this, "culpable stupidity.") For Heaven's sake: AA's in the TELEPHONE DIRECTORY; they have people ready, able and equipped to deal with the media.
I END HERE before I become volcanically morose. I cannot believe this. [Funny: I'd buy it in an LA minute about an American corporation: look at the OJSimpson book/interview project]. But it does seem to me that if __the___ august & venerable BBC can screw up so [pardon the expression] royally, well, here we are, it's like while the rich are plundering the planet, we stand back admiring their outfits.
THIS POST IS too long I know, but concision takes a lot more work & time than I have free. PEACE

  • 70.
  • At 06:19 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Ida Handel wrote:

My life was snuffed out like a candle by alcohol a few years ago,now I am back in full time work.This has all been due to AA and the 12 step programme.AA gets a bad name for itself because people think its quasi religious.It is in fact about relating to others in the same position as yourself,maybe even having a laugh.I still have any number of old friends from my AA days.I dont think putting goverment health warnings on alcohol is the answer to anything.

  • 71.
  • At 10:01 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Rob Carter wrote:

What an excellent and powerful documentary into the effects of alcoholism and a testament to the dedication of the staff on the featured NHS unit.
The discussion on Newsnight highlighted the low priority government attaches to this deep social problem. I was particularly disgusted by the refusal of the minister for public health to participate. What on earth does she think her role should be?
One important issue I think the programme did not address was the availability and ease of access to alcohol. In the past the main route to booze, particularly for under-age drinkers, was the off-licence attached to the pub, which in turn risked the landlord's liquor licence. With the ever increasing liberalisation of regulation, alcohol can now be more easily purchased through supermarkets, convenience shops and even petrol stations.
Whose interests are this government actually representing - the industry or the next generation of customers of Dickens Ward?


  • 72.
  • At 10:02 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • zombiewoof wrote:

A moving and impressive documentary, however I felt some of the interviews, particularly that of Vanda about her history of sexual abuse, were irresponsible. The film maker was entering areas of discussion with her which should only have been undertaken by a trained psychotherapist (who wouldn’t have asked her to discuss it whilst smashed out of her head).

Another respondent on this message board wrote: ‘If you had first undergone even a short course in counselling skills you would have been better equipped to talk to your subjects and would have ended up with a far more powerful dialogue’. Lets please leave this to the trained professionals rather Counsellors or ‘Coaches’.

  • 73.
  • At 10:18 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • George C.A. Talbot wrote:

I assume you got my letter sent half an hour ago but did not reply. Almost nothing about discipline above!
What is URL?

  • 74.
  • At 10:23 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Bill Dixon wrote:

As a member of Alcoholics Anomymous involved in Public information it is disappointing that health professionals disregard the support available from our organisation. Aprox 40,000 recovering members in the UK demonstrate the success of AA.
There are no fees and no outside contributions from government or lotteries etc -it is the largeswt self-help gruop ,available on over 160 countries and with 2.5 million members worldwide.
People who are no longer the burden on the health service or other services they used to be.
AA is willing to give talks and show videos free of any charges to any interested parties and we do this in schools, prisons etc etc on a regular basis.

  • 75.
  • At 10:43 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Oliver wrote:

I'm an alcoholic now going to AA. Only an alcoholic understands alcoholism, how mant tmes did we hear "YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND" last night? The alcoholic is so fatally maladjusted to life that he/she needs a total reeducation, which is what I got in AA.

  • 76.
  • At 10:43 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Matthew wrote:

An excellent and rare programme on alcoholism which painted a true picture of what alcohol can really do. Too often our society glamourises this substance and forgets to take note of its potentially addictive and destructive effects.

The government and society in general needs to be exposed to more of these kinds of documentaries, so that we do not continue to ignore the facts and think it will never happen to us.

Alcohol is pervading and damaging all spheres of society, but we prefer to keep it quiet in the hope that most people will learn to control their intake of this lethal and damaging substance. how long do we have to wait?

I am an alcoholic in recovery. I saw some of the programmes last night.
A good documentary to an extent, there were some salient points missed I feel and here are the ones which come readily to mind

1 Alcoholics in active addiction cannot stop drinking without help. When an addict is active, they have no choice at all. Alcoholism is a disease.

2 Alcoholism is not a self inflicted disease. One drink will start a person on the road to active addiction. No one chooses addiction, addiction is a consequence of nature or nurture, most likely both

3 Some people have either a genetic reason or a psychological reason for their addiction, most likely both.

4 Asking an addict to stop, because it’s the right thing to do, presupposes addicts have a choice when in active addiction. No one chooses addiction as a way of life.

5 Recovering alcoholics like me find ways and means to get support. Without support alcoholics will turn to drink because they cannot stop, do not have choices and because they have no support. It is rare to find alcoholics who ever keep sober on their own and without help.

6 Alcohol services can help, NHS support was critical to my recovery and kept me alive long enough to get help via my council, and via the worst rehab centre on earth, thankfully its closing.

7 AA helped me from day 1, and like many others who don’t have organised religion, or particular religious beliefs, AA works if we work at recovery. The God bit is an optional extra many find helpful.

8 Recovery and action to keep sober is a full time job for people in recovery, as well as any other job and any other illnesses we may have

9 Being in recovery is a continuous process. No one is ever recovered and cured. We are addicts like any other, and have a mental illness which is incurable.

10 Recovering alcoholics and addicts do make good their living and their day to day relationships with family and society with support.


The programme has got half the story right, showing the usual and extreme nature of addiction.

The programme needs the other half of the story, the truth about choices and recovery, how to get them and be able to live again as “normal people” may without ever drinking again.

Hurry up and do the other half please, where you illustrate what addiction is and how to get into recovery!

  • 78.
  • At 11:33 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Tog wrote:

Jeremy did a very good job of leading the debate on alcohol abuse. The drink industry seems to have a licence to spread misery without facing up to the consquences of their business. The media rightly demonise drug pushers not drug abusers. With drink the media generally reverses this. Only the drinker is irresponsible, not the industry.

  • 79.
  • At 11:50 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Gill wrote:

Thank you for the disturbing reality..the love within the prograame.

Thank you for the stillness of the programme's journey through ife.

Many blessings and love

  • 80.
  • At 12:08 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • GenevieveW wrote:

As an employee of the NHS I have been shocked to read on this strand that some people feel that alcoholics should have to pay for treatment required for health problems caused or contributed to by their addiction, or that treatment should be denied to them. One of the core principles of the NHS is to provide treatment free at the point of delivery regardless of an individual's lifestyle or other personal circumstances. This is the only way in which healthcare provision can be allocated fairly - otherwise who might be next to be denied or charged for treatment? Anorexics? Bulimics?

The other point to make is that the film maker presented a flawed and biased representation of his four subjects, particularly Vanda. I have learned from bitter experience that attempting to converse or debate with someone who is under the influence of a large amount of alcohol is pointless. They will either become upset, aggressive or make comments that they might later forget - this style of interviewing did not in my opinion do the subjects justice. I felt that they were asked leading questions and in some cases emotionally manipulated to provoke a reaction - this might make for affecting television but I do not see the benefit to the interviewee. However I must accept that as these scenes avoided the cutting room floor the interviewees must presumably have given their approval...

  • 81.
  • At 12:37 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Joerg Kerwath wrote:

Alcoholics...I'm a German living in this country for six years and I'm
following the public debate about Anti-Social-Behaviour, young kids and teenager excessive alcohol drinkings etc. and what might be the
culture difference between us from the continent and the people in the UK? I think, all the excessive social problems the people in the UK
are facing and which are less excessive on the continent are deeper than what you see in public...
My personal opinion is: First of all how the majority of the UK people are living privately...the house and flat sizes generally much smaller and also more expensive than on the
continent, but family sizes are very similar! So, kids and teenagers have
to share rooms on a smaller scale than their counterparts for e.g. in Germany! These kids, teenagers are than going on the streets to meet their friends, but there are not many
friendly places they can go, like youth centre's we have in Germany
basically in every little town...and if they don't have a place to spend their freetime with pleasure, they start drinking...
If these teenagers become older, private living space is so expensive, that flat sharing became so popular in this country, also what
you don't see in this scale on the, if people don't like
to stay at home, they go on the streets, to the pubs, clubs etc. to meet their friends...finally with a lot of can see it every weekend! And the grown up teenagers, the adults behaving similar...I realized, people in this
country generally don't like close neighbourhood relations (most of houses in this country are high fenced), they don't meet friends at
homes very often, they don't invite each other for dinner or barbeque to
their home privately at weekends etc., because instead you see e.g. many birthday parties in pubs, restaurants etc.! The majority of german people don't do that...they have anough space to celebrate their birthday with friends at home...Generally, you see less drunken people on the streets in Germany, except we have the various beer festivals over the year! I could count more and more, why there are so many excessive social problems in this country...e.g. the high traffic density is another one, but all, I think, are grounded due to the less private living space in this country...OK, someone would say, how about Japan? I've been with them for many years, they are not western culture, they don't drink that execessive, their private pleasure is consuming (shopping)instead of drinking...but they have also social problems due to less living space...their suicide rate is the highest in the world!

  • 82.
  • At 01:16 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Matthew wrote:

I totally agree with Joerg Kerwath's post above. he has hit the nail right on the head.

In the UK people do not find socialising without drink very natural. it is a social crux every where you go.

there needs to be a complete cultural overhaul with regard to concentration on the family, working hours, living space, communities, attention to youth. people are isolated and alone and only feel comfortable with others if they have a drink in their hand. if from a young age we adopt social interaction rather than self absorbed consumerism and other indulgent behaviour as a past-time - this will go to some lenght in making society a lot more healthier.

the economy is definitely getting healthier with the ethos of the play extremely hard-work extremely hard attitude in this country - but it's at the cost of the country's citizens.

  • 83.
  • At 01:56 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • daniel kumpik wrote:

I watched both the programme on alcohol and the newsnight report, both of which dismayed me for different, but linked reasons. I have lived with an alcoholic mother all my life and, while still carrying mental scars, I have been fortunate enough to create a successful life for myself and develop a balanced outlook. The programme upset me so much that I cried- and then wrote a song about it. The Newsnight report upset me deeply because the alcoholics featured on the programme were clearly people with serious emotional problems, much like my mother. Their problems have been specific to their upbringing or life circumstances, and yet all the "experts" (and Jeremy, for whom I have the deepest respect) wanted to talk about was trying to stop people from drinking. I agree that modern society has a "new" alcohol problem, but most current diagnosed alcoholics developed problem long before alcopops had even been heard of. What is needed is not drink labelling, not the withdrawal of alcopops and other "borderline" products (although that will help future generations, I'm sure). We should be providing psychosocial support for these people, dealing with their specific problems head-on- not trying to introduce umbrella policies that attempt to compartmentalise drinkers. I know from experience that an alcoholic will go to the ends of the earth to get a drink- no amount of labelling is going to stop that.

Thanks for a brilliant show last night, including the excerpt from "Rain in my heart" (it's enough to make anyone go teetotal!). Excellent line of questioning by Jeremy, as always, and on the issue of labelling on alcohol, Jeremy pointed out that the average bloke in the pub buying alcopops wasn't going to check the number of units it contained on a website. How true! Also loved the interview on thermonuclear fusion too, as Jeremy compared Tony Juniper (Friends of the Earth) who wanted a halt to progress, to someone who would have been against electricity and the light bulb! Excellent.

  • 85.
  • At 03:47 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

Watching last nights "Rain in my Heart" was as the Doctor stated & I paraphrase the salient message" If this doesn't shock people out of denial & apathy nothing will". It was, as a documentary,the best from a renowned Director et al, it shocked me into looking away,as I do everytime, watching "Psycho", grippingly realistic ,you were in the rooms/hospital with those patients. Pity & shame that this is what's happening to our populace,25,000 dead each year & countless young & older alcoholics ...& climbing... insufficient health care & money allocated .What other measures do the Government take to curb these & future alcoholics... Extend our Drinking hours!

Newsnight , running late, because of this programme ,debated the pros & cons of measures to take... only the Doctor who deals with these cases had any realistic input...& that summarised the programme. The Government has introduced a bill to be introduced next year to help prevent obesity in our children which will curb linked ,so called, Junk Food advertisements on ITV etc. Many programmes seen today feature drinking to excess as an ongoing fictional part of the story, so the young see drinking as the norm'(just look at the measures actors pour) outside the timed watershed!, but this administration has a love affair with the Drinks industry,& seemingly cannot bring themselves to break this bond.
The realistic shock of this programme will not have been seen by those that needed to have seen it . If this trend is believable, & I'm convinced, they will be out of the house... drinking to excess! ..totally unaware of the true dangers!!

  • 86.
  • At 05:14 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • George C.A. Talbot wrote:


  • 87.
  • At 05:46 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Vivian Evans wrote:

I feel it is necessary to clear up the point about paying for treatment, which shocked GenevieveW (#80): just as motorists are asked to contribute towards their treatment after an accident in which they were the guilty part, so, I feel, should those weekend binge drinkers contribute: those who stretch the resources of every A & E department every weekend in every town and city.
I don't see anything wrong in that: it might make some of them aware that they are responsible for their own behaviour, and that the NHS, who is stretched to breaking point (and cannot even pay for medication for Alzheimer patients), is not there to clear up after their own irrseponsible acts.
This income can then go towards treating the illness of alcoholism.
Nobody can tell me that the Saturday "rat-arsed" crowd cannot drink responsibly, unlike an alcoholic, so well described by so many recovering alcoholics here: these people cannot choose any more, they need all the help we can give them. And I wish every single one of them strength and support to stay recovered, from the bottom of my heart - I know what it is like: my husband was in that situation.
That is my argument for making these weekend bingers pay!

  • 88.
  • At 06:36 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Penny Bunn wrote:

Can I please point out that EVERYONE who abuses alcohol is not necessarily 'an alcoholic'! Many people drink because of emotional or psychological distress, using alcohol to 'self-medicate', not because they feel a great NEED to imbibe the stuff for its own sake. Some people are happy to label themselves 'an alcoholic'. Others do not feel it appropriate and do not find it helpful to affix labels to themselves.

And AA is NOT the only option available to people with a drink problem. I am concerned to note that this discussion forum is beginning to look like a 'recruitment drive' for AA and I would like to just point out that recovering from alcohol abuse OR addiction requires finding the right service FOR YOU PERSONALLY. Some people find total abstinence and the 12-step plans offered by AA and similar organisations, are their route to recovery. And good on them! And all credit, also, to AA for all the sterling work they do.

But there ARE other options, such as controlled drinking combined with psychological counselling. That is what saved me, as well as being taken OFF incorrectly-prescribed medication, for illnesses that I don't have, and to which I was wildly allergic! The resultant, constant panic I experienced prompted me to start drinking to alleviate the horrible symptoms of panic that the medication I shouldn't have been given caused me.

What I am trying to say, is that people drink for a whole host of reasons and the long-term care that is appropriate for each person must be chosen to suit their specific needs. It always saddens me when service users or providers try to claim that what worked for THEM,or the service THEY work for, is the ONLY way. I would say to anyone out there, whose life is being affected by alcohol and who wants to stop drinking, that you need to take the time to find the service that is right FOR YOU and that you are comfortable with.

Alcohol service providers AND the NHS fail to adequately publicise the full range of treatments available and for this reason, many people end up going from one service to another for YEARS, before stumbling upon the one that works for them by accident. Which makes it much harder to get the help you need.

As for the interviewing 'techniques' that were used in 'Rain In My Heart' - I don't think there was any attempt being made to offer 'counselling'. The people being filmed had agreed to be filmed whilst under the influence of alcohol and the stuff they were saying was no different the sort of thing that EVERYONE comes out with when they are really drunk! This doco was taking a 'fly on the wall' look at what these people were going through and they could have just as easily been talking to a neighbour or friend as talking to the film-makers. There is a big difference between that sort of 'counselling' (by an untrained 'friend') and the sort given by a professional key worker in a therapeutic environment. I think the documentary makers appreciated that and I did not feel that they were trying to be 'professional counsellors' on any level.

  • 89.
  • At 08:25 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • julie wrote:

I also am a recovering alcoholic of over 16 years sobriety, thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous, a fellowship which has saved the loves of many low-bottom drunks like those shown in Rain in My Heart. Indeed, Vanda's life is almost a carbon copy of my own, as a drunk, except that I dragged two young girls through it with me. Thankfully, they too found recovery in sobriety through another fellowship, which was not mentioned on this documentary ALANON and ALATEEN help the family, friends and children of alcoholics. Alcoholics Anonymous helps the drinker.

A great programme, but such a shame that no reference was made to the solution, staying in the problem is what kills excessive drinkers. Many thousands of men and women have found the solution - Alcoholics Anonymous.

23rd November 2006

The Problem with any Prejudice - Self Control

Yes it is a problem, the problem with any prejudice is simply we start taking a look at the one’s who point fingers and create a disturbance. The problem with all prejudice is it is founded upon ignorance and fear.

People who fear have prejudice. People who are not fearful have nothing to be prejudiced about. People with fear and don’t understand are doubly handicapped as they are most likely lacking self knowledge and self awareness.

Looking at some debates going on the BBC following the alcoholism programme and the Policeman suggesting Heroin addicts might be better given their fix via the state, all manner of prejudice is displayed. And as with all prejudice its got its roots in fear.

I made a comment about those who argue short sharp shocks for addicts would lead us to draconian measures for people who are just plain overweight or too thin. After all anyone overweight or too thin has no self control we expect of addicts. And how many people is this? Half the population?

Well it makes me wonder where people do feel they have rights to criticise and make bold statements to harm their fellows in society.

No one wants to be overweight or too thin and no one wants to be an addict. And as we see there are moves in the NHS via new labour policy to put fat people or too thin people down to the bottom of waiting lists as if they are second class citizens… As for addicts, most often they die, without support or help.

Where are we all in this sorry state of affairs. Being a person in recovery for a while now, I understand all too clearly the path to ruin and the path back to ordinary life is just plain hard slog and hard work, day in and day out.

There is no easy way out for any deformity of character or physique, it requires support and a lot of effort. And indeed I suspect the odd couch potato enjoys having a go at addicts who they feel are wasters and useless. By the same token ask a recovering addict about couch potato’s and more often than not they will suggest its none of their business…

So where are we with our brave new labour world?

A bit nearer to getting to the truth about a lot of things as the NHS although strapped for cash has made serious inroads to the treatment of too fat people and too thing people and as it happens to addicts as well. So well done the NHS!

As to attitudes and behaviour in our great and good society we seem to have become slack and mendacious, easy to blame others and lacking in responsibility, personal and social. The blame culture really needs to be resolved, and the culture of corporate irresponsibility and personal liability needs overhaul. The new labour lot are full of bull when it comes to leading from the front. Although there a lot of good intentions overall they are rubbish at changing anything worth a damn.

When "Knacker" of the Yard makes a suggestion we feed the addicts so they don’t hurt or steal anymore, we get indignant rather than wipe out loads of criminal behaviour. We are still wanting to punish people for being addicts. And if we hear more about fat people and thin people being second raters then they too will become demonised and seen as irresponsible citizens.

Where will it all end?

Soon I hope when some sensible people make some dramatic and sensible policies in the social categories which help people get over their awful living and awful binds. Until then, if you are perfect, well done, if you are imperfect in some way, stop looking outwards and take a look in the mirror, and then apply your prejudice to yourself.

In the meantime be good to yourself! You know it makes sense..

  • 91.
  • At 10:10 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Nicki Hazell wrote:

Great documentary which really showed what a life threatening substance alcohol can be & highlighted the strength of addiction.

My criticism is of the discussion on Newsnight; no one asked the seemingly obvious question to either the MP or the representative from the Portman Group which is; if alcohol causes the enormity of deaths/social problems/pressure on the NHS as we're constantly hearing about through the media, why are the goverment not putting more money into treatment? Also, as the drinks industry make £3billion per year from the sale of alcohol, is it too much to ask to contribute some of this towards providing treatment?

Working for the local authority in the drug & alcohol team, funding people to go into treatment for their addiction (rehabilitation) we are constantly being asked to cut down on the length of time in treatment offered to clients with an alcohol problem as the budget is being cut year after year. However the budget for drugs & especially criminal justice clients(where crime is linked to drug use)is never an issue.

  • 92.
  • At 11:26 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • tracy kennedy wrote:

Hi i missed the programme on the 21/1/06 about alcoholism, can you tell me is this going to be on any bbc channel again

  • 93.
  • At 12:16 AM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • Sue Ellis wrote:

I watched a recording of rain in my heart this evening. Absolutely incredible piece of film but I do agree with many on this board; Paul Watson, whilst a brave man for making such a hard-hitting film, made me cringe with some of his comments.
Some comments on here have said that the film sterotyped and should have shown the middle class working alcoholic. Did these people miss the start; Paul Watson really had no choice but to follow the four that he did as other hospitals were not open to his requests (or scared how they would be portrayed).
This documentary needs to be shown again at a time when a wider audience can view it, and I agree that teenagers would learn a lot from it too.
I missed the end of the film (video+ problems I think). Can someone please tell me what happened to Mark and Vanda.

  • 94.
  • At 11:48 AM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • julie wrote:

SUE, at the end it said that Mark is now a recovering alcoholic, thought it didn't say how he had found recovery, which is a shame, and Vanda is still drinking, but not as much as she was (Yeah Yeah)

I clicked a link on the BBC site which said contact us, and I did so, not knowing where it would go to, but I got a nice reply from Paul Watson himself, who was interested in the fact that I had been sober for 16 years with AA, and he did say he would pass my words on to Vanda, so who knows? Maybe she too will find her way to the solution for alcoholism. I do hope so, because her story was not disimilar to my own, including the sexual abuse issues, which were my gremlins for many years, but the 12-step programme and the members of AA pointed me in the right direction to deal with these and many other issues which had prevented me from being able to stop drinking.

I also suggested he might be interested in attending an open AA meeting, so that he might be better equipped to support these people and their families.

  • 95.
  • At 02:56 PM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • Julia wrote:

Paul Watson made a moving documentry concerning the abuse and devastation caused by alcohol, not only to the alcoholic but to their family and friends. My alcoholism started in my 20's and continued until i was 44, it is a miracle that I am still alive.

My way out was through doing a 12 Step programme and continuing to use the Steps for every day of my life since.

My experience of 'help' was to be dried out and slung out of various NHS hospitals with little or no backup for me or my family, just feeling more and more of a waste of space.

Others have already described the appaling effects of this growing addiction and its consequences so all i would really like to say is that maybe it would have offered hope to other addicts and their families if just some recovering alcoholics had been interviewed to, maybe towards the close of the film?

All the very best to all the people out there suffering - some people do make it and do live a fulfilling life after alcohol!

  • 96.
  • At 03:39 PM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • George C.A. Talbot wrote:

I have read all your letters off the screen. I realize that government could discourage the sale of alcohol more and that support and treatment could be much better. And I note that many have recovered. But three of the four alcoholics in Rain in My Heart recovered physically in hospital, at substantial cost, yet returned to drinking on release. One of these died during filming.

Despite the severity of the problem and the warning that it is effecting more and younger children just given by Panorama, stronger discipline is rarely mentioned and deterrence never. Yet civilization depends on laws that must be upheld and customs that must be maintained. Recovering alcoholics don’t just need support and treatment they need discipline. Without discipline, the substantial help that society provides becomes spoiling by enabling alcoholics to continue destroying themselves and harming others.

Adults can only be disciplined if society has an adequate deterrent. For alcoholics, this could be imprisonment with minimum medical help until they detoxed and agreed to submit to basic disciplines. Then treatments for underlying problems could be attempted. Some would relapse and require several cycles. I believe most would recover more quickly than at present while a limit to this process would encourage reform and save lives overall. And it would avoid unjustly spending most of the resources on the worst cases.

  • 97.
  • At 03:58 PM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • charlotte wrote:

I also found the programme very moving, and also was astonished that there was no mention of psychological treatment, or AA, for these people. As others have quite rightly pointed out, it's useless telling an alcoholic that they mustn't drink, and they're killing themselves - they know that. Increasing evidence suggests the brains of alcoholics are wired differently, to put it simplistically, and recent studies indicate alcoholics have lower levels of the chemicals that keep everyone else on an even keel. There is also thought to be a genetic element. So to dismiss it as 'lack of willpower' or a 'choice' is meaningless. To the person who posted about AA being a religious conversion programme - I'm four years sober in AA, and consider myself an atheist! I have no religious beliefs and no plans to develop any, either. And I have many AA friends who share the same views. No, it doesn't help everyone - different strokes for different folks, and all that. And yes, the hard fact is the majority who try AA do drink again. Alcoholism is a quite terrifying illness and a very hard nut to crack. However, AA HAS worked for millions, and I personally feel it is the best option I have - it's turned my life around. To anyone who thinks they have a problem with drink, I'd say, give it a go - you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

  • 98.
  • At 04:50 PM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • Julia wrote:

George C.A. Talbot wrote:

"For alcoholics, this could be imprisonment with minimum medical help until they detoxed and agreed to submit to basic disciplines."

Obviously this is a very contentious issue and opinions will differ!

However, I must say that I could never agree with imprisonment as a solution to being an alcoholic. It would be no different to detox without medical help........which does nothing to solve alcoholism.

The issue of alcoholism is so massive, many, many alcoholics have suffered terrible abuse as children (often sexual abuse by people close to them)and do not know how to heal themselves. Many people never talk of their abuse but hide their fear, pain and distrust of other people in the numbness that alcohol provides for them.

Most alcoholics do not drink because they enjoy alcohol - it is generally used as a self administered aneasthetic - unlike drugs it is legal!

The number shown after Paul Watson's documentary was for the BBC ACTION LINE - 08000 565450.

  • 100.
  • At 07:44 PM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • George C.A. Talbot wrote:

Thanks for letter 96!

Julia and all those who attribute alcoholism to pain in earlier times and illness have valid points. But the past cannot be changed so this may trap people into their defence of drinking.

However, the evidence from C4's Bratcamps confirms my understanding: Calm punishments for bad behaviour do stop it. The difficulty with adults is they may refuse punishment and continue drinking, as the film showed. Prison stops the drinking and gives their master a tool to bargain with. "If you want out, you must agree to accept discipline." Then treatment for the underlying problems, repressed emotions and faulty expectation I call them, can be offered to ease the pain of not drinking!

C4's brats have resisted changing vigorously, often for years. But on the program they do reluctantly improve remarkably, usually in weeks. Later they regret how they were and value the program!

  • 101.
  • At 09:55 PM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • Andi Chapman wrote:

I live in NZ and have been trying to watch the programme re: alcoholism on line but to no avail - anyway, sounds good - but any mention of the great and awesome Alcoholics Anonymous - most successful treatment regime known in the world

  • 102.
  • At 01:15 AM on 24 Nov 2006,
  • Scott M wrote:

'Rain in My Heart' was a very powerful and moving documentary so well done to Paul Watson for trying to educate us all on the subject of Alcoholism.

Being a recovering alcoholic myself this was a very welcome reminder of what would be inevitably in store for me again if I fail to work my lifelong program, one day at a time. It also renewed my gratitute of being a sober member in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. I was moved throughout the documentary at how destructive my illness is and will unfortunately continue to be for so many.

I was also very happy that the programme aimed to educate the public as many people, in my opinion of course, still (in 2006) hold prehistoric views about Alcoholics such as myself. Although in early stages it may seem alcoholism is self-inflicted, in reality it is a disease and I believe Alcoholism is in the person, not in the bottle.

Sections of people also believe, I know this due to personal experiences, Alcoholism is simply a matter of choice and the only solution is 'Willpower' Maybe such people who saw the programme will now change their ideas and if just one person does, what an achievement! Hopefully the programme helped in relation to stigmas and prejudgices surrounding Alcoholics and Alcoholism.

Scott M. - Essex

  • 103.
  • At 05:44 AM on 24 Nov 2006,
  • Julia wrote:

I really do understand why there are so many points of view on this emotive subject. Some of us are talking from the view of the alcoholic, some as their loved ones some from a more general point of view.

Alcohol ruins lives, treatment (real treatment)is virtually non existent there is much, much more money ploughed in to drugs programmes by the government.

I have been involved in setting up a self help goup for alcoholics - this group had to become a drink/drugs group in order to get any kind of funding - the funding is often only for drug addiction it then has to be stretched in order to help
alcoholics! The two addictions are very similar in the devastation they have on our lives. One is legal, one is not.

The reasons why drugs programmes get more local and government funding is apparently because more crimes are committed by drug users.

Does nobody realise that alcohol is a drug?

The government do not or will not.

Does anybody know if Paul Watson will be doing anymore on the subject?

  • 104.
  • At 11:20 PM on 24 Nov 2006,
  • v.berry wrote:

is this programme due to be repeated

  • 105.
  • At 12:00 AM on 25 Nov 2006,
  • A.McKelvey wrote:

I can only assume that George C.A.Talbot has never had a drink problem,otherwise he would not, have written such a load of drivel.
Without gwtting involved in an online arguement,I have only one question to put to him.How ,when the Alcohol Dependent person cannot hope to disicipline him/herself,could another party influence their decisions? Spare a thought and perhaps a little compassion for the people (any many like them) who were presented "on screen".I might be drink dependent but still have social values and more importantly

  • 106.
  • At 02:19 PM on 25 Nov 2006,
  • Julia wrote:

A.McKelvey - Very well put!

Just a word of hope to you and anyone else in the throes of addiction - I thought I would never be free from alcohol dependency, would never stop drinking until it killed me. But I am now, I dont drink and maybe I never will again. It can be done.

If you can find people who have found a way it is fantastic to talk it through with them. They are the only ones who will truly understand how it feels and why it is so hard to get through.

All the very best.

A. McKelvey is right to suppose I have not had a drink problem. But I do know the power of internal demons. And over many years I have tried to understand human motivation and how behaviour can be changed.

He asks me how anyone could influence an Alcohol Dependent person who cannot discipline him or herself. Obviously, with difficulty! But many letters cite AA's successes and I welcome their social support and moral approach.

I emphasise external discipline and note its success with some very badly behaved teens in C4's Bratcamp. Why is this not tried with alcoholics? Surely this would be better than letting them self-destruct, as so many do?

I also emphasise psychological treatments that seek to release often long repressed emotions and to change faulty emotional expectations, often formed in early life. I readily accept painful feelings but believe they can be changed given time and discipline and ideally, sobriety.

I also urge attention to the fact that social help is necessarily limited. This could help concentrate minds as near death experiences change some alcoholics.

Please do not assume that nothing can be done but submit to ones fate!

  • 108.
  • At 10:10 PM on 25 Nov 2006,
  • A.McKelvey wrote:

Firstly thanks to Julia.It is great when I hear of someone beating their addiction.I can sense in you e-mails
that you too,have struggled 24/7.I wish you Gods blessings for the future.
George!I did not mean to single you out,but I think it was "force making things right"that got to me.I have in the past, been in a secure ward for eight weeks
the day I was "released" I drunk, for what reason,I do not know except maybe, freedom?
I have been to Phychologists several times over a ten year period--a Psychoanalyst,five times--Tried Hynopotism--Acupuncture--Enforced stays in hospital--Spiritual help--Friends "good friends " help--And yes. I have been to AA. on numerous occassions.I have read many books and studied profiles,and probably know more about Alcohol Dependency
than most of the people trying to help.By the way 98%of the treatments were self sourced.I still attend my Practice Nurse every fortnight,as I said to her last Thursday ,"she is my safety net"My help is my long suffering wife ,who has stood by me in all the bad times and pray God will continue to do so.Also an open approach with people I come into contact with .So apologies to you George,I was not trying to nit-pick.Yours Adrian McKelvey

Thanks Adrian, apologies accepted!

You wonder why you drunk after weeks in custody. A good question! Maybe you could find a true answer.

Knowledge may not change behaviour but it might!

Keep trying and good luck!

  • 110.
  • At 10:56 PM on 26 Nov 2006,
  • A.McKelvey wrote:

As a last note on the subject.I would identify with letter (97 from Charlotte).Her understanding would be parrell to mine and thoughts echo myself.After extensive research into the subject I would concur all she has said..
Of all the letters posted ,it has the greatest logical explanation.
It took me three years of chipping away at my GP. and Psychologist before they would agree to the principle,I now have a very sympathetic and listening GP.The Psychologist at the time ,and I devoted a long time discussing the electro-chemical workings of neurons,receptors and transmitters in the brain.
I still have not answered numerous questions ,which still puzzle me about the addictive process,but apply myself to it daily.
But the message to every addictive person out there is ..."Get all the help,from whatever ,wherever source you can,and take each day as it comes ".YOU WILL WIN..maybe not today maybe not tomorrow,but be sure there are people trying to help.You might have an addictive personality but that makes you no less a human being ..Even if you don't attend AA.meetings,talk to people who do and little by little you will find you are not alone ,and ,everybody needs help..God bless all...
By the way George ,Thankyou..its rather a pity we probably won't meet face to face ..But what a debate!!
Yours..... Adrian McKelvey

  • 111.
  • At 11:07 PM on 26 Nov 2006,
  • Jacqueline Holland wrote:

There have been many thoughtful comments. Having read most of them it would appear many have been helped by AA. However I feel that the main thrust of the programme was the sheer helplessness of the victims. These were desperatelly ill people. All suffering mental health issues.

It seems clear that what is lacking is a coherent response to the problem.
It may be cliched but joined up thinking is the most appropriate phrase.

Anyone who has had to seek help on behalf of those that are incapable of doing so themselves will know just how impossible it is.

I have spent years trying to get help for such a person. He suffered a stroke at 58 which left him with cognitive damage thus affecting his reasoning skills.

We sought help from an alcohol councillor who found him a private re hab place. However he was turned down on medical grounds due to his lack of cognitive reasoning skills.

Mental health sent him to alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse sent him back to mental health. Both have signed him off. His wife moved him to a flat as a result of domestic violence. Social Services failed to visit. Finally drunk and bleeding in the gutter he found his way to A and E courtesy of the police. 3 weeks in hospital and social services put him in an old folks home. A month later and yet again signed off by mental health the home threw him out, they could not cope with his disruptive behaviour and incontinence and he ends up back in a flat.

He is incontinent when drinking. Incapable of feeding and caring for himself. Refuses to let the social workers in so has been signed off by them. He lives in a state worse than an animal, almost permantly drunk.

We have battled with the NHS and social service. Contacted any number of charities dealing with both mental health and alcohol misuse all to no avail.

There are NO systems in place to deal with dual diagnosis. A patient needs to be seen as a person with varying needs. All areas need to communicate with each other so that an appropriate care package can be put in place.

Alcohol abuse is the cinderella of the NHS and yet the repercussions on society, family life and the victims are enormous. Surely prevention has to be economically more viable than the enormous cost of patching people up and sending them back on to the street in a viscious cycle that ultimately ends in death.

Jacqueline Holland's reference to the absence of help for someone with a dual diagnosis reminds me of the problem of youngsters who are bad and mad. Prisons don't want them because of their crazy behaviour and mental health facilities don't want them because they behave so badly. I have argued that while madness does promote bad behaviour, it should not prevent discipline. This is not popular even though many supporting the mentally ill claim most behave well!

Jacqueline's friend suffered a stroke and I do not know to what extent he could recover if he were helped and behaved sensibly. But again I notice no reference to discipline even though he has been in communities where it could be provided. Discipline is primarily emotional so his cognitive defects should not preclude it.

However, by saying he is an adult and must be free to do as he chooses, society has set aside one thing it could use that should help. And it defends itself from the failures by saying they are suffering from incurable mental illnesses. Illness may be present but I suggest it is not the main problem of most featured in this blog and in Rain in My Heart.

  • 113.
  • At 05:56 PM on 27 Nov 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

A very hard-hitting film by Watson, although his ethics always seem shakey to me. He must be a very persuasive man. Vintage Paxman and an excellent doctor in the studio discussion. Some superb comments here, and I never see any point in repeating what others have said. But some points have been understated.

Despite the NHS bearing a huge burden from alcohol use - and staff facing such patients so frequently must lead to reduced services for all of us - anyone who says it does enough, or suggests that everyone in the this country gets all the help they need, when they need it, from the NHS is severely deluded.

To keep to alcohol misuse, and addiction: it is well known exactly why some people are born liable to this and other addictions, and that mechanism could easily be blocked, but no one offers that treatment. No one even markets it. Instead people are, if necessary, cleaned up and dumped out in the marketplace again. Obviously this is because of a skilfully manipulated balance between others seeing them as undeserving and there being a profit to be made whilst they live and suffer. Alcoholics Anonymous is clearly the most humane answer actually available, but it is only another addiction. As is "finding christ" and handing one's life, mind and vote over to manipulative preachers.

Meanwhile the rest of us pay the price. The relatives, the neighbours, the taxpayer, the other NHS patients, other drivers, NHS and police personnel.

The German commentator here had very apposite things to say about why Britain might be more afflicted by drinking, but he misses how the industries that profit from addiction are woven into our political system. How many MPs and MEPs and other politicians have been in the pockets of tobacco and alcohol, for centuries. There isn't a Labour or Conservative or Liberal club, a town or city, an entertainment venue in the country that isn't "in the debt" of what used to be called "the Beerage".

In the past the people countered that by "temperance" movements, but they seem to have been defeated and forgotten now. Immoral, unfettered, and high-flying greed has a long and proud history in this country. Newsnight could fill ours screens every day, with no difficulty at all, with heartbreaking victims of that, but I'm not sure we could rely upon you to identify the guilty parties.

Jenny offers a wide range of causes for alcoholism but I doubt "it is well known exactly why some people are born liable to this and other addictions,". But as so many posts go from alcoholism to mental illness to brain features, may I, for the record, develop my claim that base emotions are important?

I divide non-sexual emotions into desires concerned with survival, independence and the wishes to dominate and possess others and the resultant passions of bliss and rage, relief and anxiety, happiness and sadness and love and hate.

Mental illness results when one or more of these emotions is repressed and strongly excited. Hence therapy is needed to learn how to express long repressed emotions. Illness also results when someone habitually expresses an emotion in a faulty way. This requires careful retraining.

I suspect Adrian learnt to obtain the attention everyone needs to survive by being needy as a child. Then he became an Alcohol Dependent adult to ensure he would get this attention. If so, when sober, he will fear being abandoned. Then only discipline and support when sober will enable him to recover. But this takes an adult a long time and if true, he will try to justify relapsing to avoid his fear of abandonment. Just a thought Adrian! Sorry if I'm wrong. But don't be too quick to reject it.

  • 115.
  • At 07:04 PM on 28 Nov 2006,
  • Julia wrote:

If George's theory is correct then maybe he is right that all of us alcoholics would benefit from a prolonged stay in prison. Not only would it teach us "discipline" it would also feed our desires to be noticed and we can become "dependent~" on the prison authorities - but isnt this what we are trying to 'grow out' of?

I think it is absolutely clear from the message board that the problem with alcohol (just like any other drug) is that often the addict has been harmed (often as a child) by other people and can become part of a cycle of destruction.

I do agree with many of George's comments, they make sense and in a perfect world we would grow up balanced, disciplined and controlled individuals.

However the problem does exist and alcoholism, binge drinking, excess drinking - whatever you want to call it is a growing disease that most of us will at some time be affected by or will know someone who is affected by it........bit like cancer.

I have a very strong belief that other (recovering)alcoholics can be invaluable to someone who's drinking is out of control; whether through AA or other networks.

Helping other alcoholics into recovery is another step towards continued and ongoing recovery for ourselves. We are non judgemental, not easily shocked, and we know how the alcoholic mind works.

You can turn something that was absolutely horrible into something wonderful if you use your 'experience' of alcoholism to help someone else.

  • 116.
  • At 11:11 PM on 03 Dec 2006,
  • A.McKelvey wrote:

Julia once again ,thankyou for the "revelant"..reasoning.Of course you are right......
I had decided not to post any more to this blog,as I thought it was going slightly "off topic"but as it is still in my PC.I chanced upon it this evening..
George's theory is of course based in "the ideal world "scenario.Bless him.Mine and most of the other posters in this blog ,who have or had problems live in the "real world".On this I make my second assumption.That George has been in the armed forces,police or in a position of some authority in the past.Perhaps still reading Freud?For
it was he ,who described the "base emotions" and yes we all have those.
My parents were reasonably well off,so I was blessed with both material and emotional factors.Researching my family history I can go back three generations ,with not one member of the entire family having addiction.
But then I am biased ,as to having "needs" as a child.Perhaps it is the child in me who never grew up.Perhaps I crave this attention when I'm drinking.Perhaps..No my friend "perhaps" can be as difficult a word as "if"..The story starts with "once upon a time" and finishes with"and they all lived happily ever after"!!.Look to the posts and study them,at least the ones from the people who have,or have had ,the problem.There you will find that no two beings are the same .Neither their reactions,abuse levels,dependancy ,prognosis,or willingness to be helped ,are equal.Each must be taken on a one to one basis,and this again is where Julia comes in.She is being positive and "doing something about it"for which I must once again commend and wish for others to do likewise.
No offence taken George,but I though I should put the facts straight,in case some people start clutching at straws...Yours Adrian McKelvey

  • 117.
  • At 02:35 AM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • L W wrote:

Congratulation Paul Watson on your programmme. I thought your interview style was appropriate because you asked the questions every lay person in Britian wanted to know.

As a recovering alcoholic I believe that people have personalities which predisposes them to addicted behaviours resulitng in alcoholism, a disease when people are at 'dis-ease' with life.

I personally believe in AA, but I understand that this is not the only solution out there, and believe in AA's philosophy of attraction rather than promotion of newcomers to the fellowship. In relation to the success rates- either way alcoholism is a fatal disease and the success rate is low (3%), whatever solution is followed, but alcoholics have an icreased chance with help for their physical, social and emotional problems. In any case any period of soberiety, however short is beneficial for an alcoholic.

I wwould like to know where I could get a copy of this programme for training/ educational purposes.

  • 118.
  • At 11:06 PM on 24 Feb 2007,
  • A.McKelvey wrote:

Any more threads on this subject?

luogo interessante, soddisfare interessante, buon!

  • 120.
  • At 01:55 PM on 28 Mar 2007,
  • bob wrote:


Old age is just an incurable disease and we rarely live beyond 100 years old. WBR LeoP

Doctors and counselors so often find it easier to medicate and therefore eradicate their problems whereas children are concerned. WBR LeoP

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