So we begin 2011 with our Mr. Cameron predicting that it will be a ‘difficult Year’. The underlying cause would seem to be that the UK spends more than it earns. So what are the Government’s recommendations as to how we should cope?
Let us imagine for a moment that everything is perfect in our life. We live with our ideal partner, in the perfect house and we get our income from doing work that we enjoy, we do not have any financial worries and we are in good health. Why then would we want to introduce any mind altering substance to dilute the experience?
The uncomfortable truth is that so many people are using alcohol just to ‘cope’ with life. Many of them are unseen and don’t appear in the government figures, they are ‘average’ families under extreme pressure, often financial, just trying to get to the end of the week without having a breakdown!
Imagine a completely sober population living in the reality that is modern life in the UK 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It would be the first time that so many people would experience the UK as it really is. What would happen if the illusion of getting ‘relief’ from life by using alcohol was no longer an option? Just maybe there would be a massive realisation that the way that we are all living is driving so many to drink alcohol in an attempt to ‘escape’ life.
As a result it may be possible that we may collectively decide that some real changes needed to be made, but who in the government is going to be brave enough to even start the process of debating them?
Then of course there are the employment and tax revenue positions to consider. 1.6M people in the UK are employed making alcohol; £200M is spent on advertising. Additionally there is packaging, transport, distribution and retail sales.
As a Government how is it possible to balance a situation where a drug is legal, thousands die as a result of using it, 1.7 Billion a year is spent managing the health consequences and yet it still contributes massive amounts to the economy?
I really don’t know. But unless we start to be honest about it we may never know. It really is a very big cause for concern when a government adviser speaks the truth about alcohol but is then sacked because it doesn’t comply with government policy. The truth may be uncomfortable but it cannot be adapted to fit the way the Government would like it to be.
Alcohol, for too many people, is escapism. The sad thing is they have all the resources to deal with the daily stresses, but they need to be living in reality for long enough to understand what it is that they need to change. Truth is that many are resorting to alcohol, or worse still, other mind-altering drugs to avoid the short-term problems, so sowing the seeds to longer-term illnesses.
David Cameron advocates the ‘Big Society’. When he addresses the Government’s promotion of ‘responsible drinking’, and its lack of effective impact, and he has the courage to talk openly about society’s role in dealing with this issue, then I will take him seriously.