Often people are aware of their addictive behaviour and would like to stop or slow down. However, the illusion of the addiction can be so powerful that the fear of not being able to cope without it is overwhelming and can suffocate even the smallest attempt to take control of the situation and muster the confidence to change.
My nan is all kinds of great. She is strong. She had six kids in nine years. She worked. Raised a big family on very little. She's seen a lot of life and she never judges anyone. But there are some problems outside her realm of experiences these days. So as much as my nan remains my favourite person, she's not always the most relevant. Oldest is not always best.
I don't frighten easily. I lived in a constant state of fear for so many years that it takes a lot to reignite it and take me to that dark place now. But when I see people using end-stage alcoholics to measure their own drinking against? It frightens me. When I see the media latch onto one person, the exception to the rule that has been able to subject their body to horrendous amounts of alcohol abuse and still just about function? It frightens me. Alcoholism is not a p*ssing contest. There is no glory to be had in being further up the sliding scale than these individuals.
Many people sneer at the idea that addiction is a disease. "Surely so-and-so can just stop drinking" they say about alcoholics, unaware that an alcoholic can't control his craving for more drink -- just as a cancer or diabetes patient can't control the progression of his disease. Anyone who knows an alcoholic, or a hard core drug addict, will know that many of them desperately want to give up but are unable to.
Alastair Campbell's Panorama documentary on Britain's Hidden Alcoholics was a refreshing attempt to draw attention to the complexity of our alcohol problem. The programme revealed the full range of alcohol consumption patterns, from ritualistic social drinking in working class pubs to professionals quaffing wine like it was water, often alone at home.
Nearly 9,000 lives are claimed through excessive alcohol consumption, official figures have revealed. Shocking death toll figures, released by the...