Are we a Nation of Saints & Scholars or just Drunks?

The law says I can only buy one packet of 16 Paracetamol in a chemist at any one time, but any 18 year old can walk into an off license and buy 50 bottles of Vodka if they want? How many people die from Paracetamol overdose a year compared to alcohol related deaths I wonder?

We entertain world leaders like Obama and heads of state like the Queen of England, by bringing them to the pub in front of the world’s cameras. Only recently politicians set great examples, basically getting away with drink driving.

Does the government really care about our alcohol epidemic or is it just blowing smoke to appease the masses while it reaps enormous taxes on the sale of alcohol?

In the last few years pretty much every corner shop has been given a license to sell alcohol, and from 10.30am. Do we really need to be able to go to the corner shop at 10.30am to buy a bottle of wine? I always understood early houses were for those who worked nights etc. but surely everyone else doesn’t need the option?

A water bottle has to have its nutritional values detailed down to the macro nutrient but not one single mention of even the slightest ingredient, calorie content or sugar content is on any alcoholic drinks label or its website. Labels just state how much alcohol is in it and let’s face it, that’s a selling point. When was the last time you looked at a beer label and chose the one with the lowest alcohol content? We constantly hear about GMO food dangers, about low fat this and that and chicken that’s traceable and yet see no problem consuming beers, never questioning the source of its ingredients, or whether its ingredients are genetically modified.

Here in Ireland we talk about how America’s gun laws are insane and yet when you think about it we kind of do the same with alcohol here? We can’t understand how millions of Americans believe every man, woman and child has the right to bear arms – high powered, fully automatic armored piercing & in any quantity, arms. Maybe we should take a look closer to home, I bet per capita a lot more people die here from drink related deaths than shootings in America? In Ireland we pride ourselves on a pub literally on every street corner and get our backs up whenever there’s talk of change to opening hours. In some rural areas we even turn a blind eye to drink driving and politicians have even tried to change the law for this. The drinks industry here is as powerful, as rich and as well connected as the National Rifle Association. Americans love their guns and kill each other with them. We love our alcohol and kill ourselves with it; it’s just not as instant or dramatic here.

As a binge drinker like most young males in this country, the cheap cost, easy availability and cultural acceptance means I can drink myself into a drunken stupor and actually get more coo dose from my peers. To be an alcoholic in Ireland gets passed off as “fond of the drink”. To order a non-alcohol beer at a bar in Ireland brings looks of horror from friends and questions of “are you pregnant?” for girls. It’s become socially acceptable to drink a bottle of wine every night in Ireland in the middle classes (we all know someone who does) and yet if they drank half a bottle of vodka or 6 cans of Dutch Gold every night that’d be different?

I lived in Australia for a couple of years and while they have a similar drinking culture to ours, they seem to be doing something about it. If a barman serves you while you’re drunk they can be fined thousands of dollars. Imagine if that law was here – and enforced? Mid Strength beer in Western Australia is widely accepted as “cool” to drink, largely thanks to a successful advertisement campaign involving sports star endorsements.

Whether the Australian example is working I don’t know, but it may work here? I do know one thing, what we’re doing here now doesn’t work and if anything is making things worse? Making it more expensive is ineffective, we’ve just changed our drinking habits to going out later and drinking more at home.

Is there a comparison to be drawn between our high alcohol consumption and our high depression and suicide rates? If not directly, maybe indirectly? How many kids have witnessed their parents arguing while drunk? How many kids have grown up in an abusive alcoholic family and developed depression as a result of anxiety? If you see a heroin junkie with a child you think “poor kid, he has no chance” and yet go to any pub on a Sunday afternoon and it’s full of drunk parents with their kids.

I saw a Drinkaware.ie poster and it reminded me of how ridiculous it is. Established in 2006 by alcohol manufacturers & distributers with the aim “to undertake initiatives to combat alcohol abuse & misuse”. So the legal drug is being monitored by the drug dealers themselves? The drinks industry can now point to Drinkaware whenever they’re criticized about not doing anything to prevent the alcohol epidemic we have in this country. Genius marketing and I’m sure whoever came up with that idea in Adagio got a big promotion.

Don’t be fooled by Drinkaware, it’s a marketing con thought up to appease the masses and so the drinks industry and government can say they’re doing something about the epidemic. It at best gets people thinking but is no substitute for the government or industry actually doing something to tackle the problem.

Take Drinkaware’s current campaign saying that one standard drink takes the same amount of time to be processed by your liver (see link below). Basically it’s trying to say if I drink 10 glasses of beer or 10 measures of whiskey it’d leave my body the same way and to be careful driving the next morning that I’m not over the limit. Rubbish, if I drank 10 glasses of beer I’d be grand in a few hours, if I drank 10 whiskeys I’d be near death drunk, for hours. And if I hadn’t eaten it would be worse. Would a 5ft girl handle 1 standard drink the same as a 6 ft. man? Of course not, a standard drink is about as useful as pounds and shillings and about as accurate as RTE’s weather forecast.

Be aware Drinkaware is the drink industries fanfare.

I’m not sure what the answer is but the question is this, are we doing much about it? Our dependence on alcohol affects every single one of us in some way or another if we think about it? I hope this article hasn’t upset or offended anyone, but I think it’s better to think about it, than ignore it and pretend there is no problem?


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author: Andy Kenny