The alcohol policies from the main parties are worryingly similar although of course we will be told that they are all radically different from each other.
They all have an underlying theme of attempting to control alcohol consumption, through price, the threat of damage to our health or to suffer the wrath of our judicial system if we get on the wrong side of the law.
Problem is they are all still caught up in cosy world of ‘responsible drinking’ where a couple of glasses of wine are enjoyed by the fireside with the one we love in our comfortable country retreat. It would appear that many of the policy makers and government advisers live in this exact environment. In the real world where people are using alcohol to self medicate a range of complex issues, this scenario will seem a million miles away, and it is.
It seems that there is a complete lack of any understanding from our politicians as to why we have an alcohol problem in the UK. They seem to be under the illusion that people drink it because it is cheap; the uncomfortable truth is that many will be drinking it because they are in mental pain, caused by living in our often challenging society. They use alcohol to numb the pain because they simply don’t know what else to do. None of the manifestos that I have read have an answer for this and do not even seem to acknowledge its existence.
There is also the illusion that we can guarantee that ‘responsible drinking’ can be achieved by everyone all the time by sticking to the governments recommended guidelines. The very same guidelines described as ‘useless’ and an ‘intelligent guess’ in this article that appeared in the Times newspaper.
Because alcohol is a mind altering drug, once you start drinking it, nothing is guaranteed. Apart from that even if it is only slightly, your mind will be in a different place than before you drank alcohol. That might just be enough for you to decide that you will have just one more drink after all. After that who knows?
If we really are to stage a private sector lead recovery in Britain, then in the first instance we will need to see some progress in recovering from our national addiction to alcohol, anti-depressants and other illegal drugs.