Friday, 8 August 2014

On minimum pricing for alcohol...what people working with alcoholics say


Others have taken apart the Southampton University study that prompted all the renewed fuss but suffice it to say that I'm not really surprised at a finding that people who drink a lot spend more on alcohol. However, I am reassured by the response on minimum unit pricing for alcohol here from people who actually work with alcoholics every day - here's Vicki Beere, operations director at Project 6 in Keighley which works with people with drug and alcohol issues and their families:

"I guess it is disproportionate on the poorest people who are dependent on alcohol. Some of the possible consequences are people not being able to afford their level of alcohol use which puts them at risk of withdrawal which can be fatal. It puts them at risk of illness, risk of crime - they may feel the need to commit crime to fund their alcohol use. It also puts them at risk of poor nutrition, people have to make choices between eating and drinking, and poor physical health," says Vicki.

"We welcome the debate but would really like to see rather than increased investment in this - to influence minimum pricing will take a lot of time and money - we would rather see the money diverted into increased treatment and support for people suffering from alcohol issues and an increased profile of the prevention agenda." 

Sadly Bradford Council's officer - seemingly making up policy on the hoof - simply parroted the new puritan line.



Chris Oakley said...

People who actually care about others, usually get on with doing just that.

Those without such empathy hide behind a false altruism in order to push their political agendas.

Nick Sheron has form. Some time ago I wrote about him being very economical with the truth in the Lancet when he and Ian Gilmore used that sorry political rag to urge the UK government to emulate a Soviet alcohol crackdown. They focused on initial success but failed to mention that it swiftly ended in disastrous failure partly because alcohol is quite easy to make at home. Where I come from, we call that lying. Apparently that isn't the case in other parts of the country. Especially Whitehall it seems.

Mick Anderson said...

There seems to be an assumption that every alcoholic spends every waking hour either drunk or becoming drunk. The comedy view is that the first thing they do is reach under the bed for the remains of last nights bottle, and carry on where yesterday ended.

My wife is an alcoholic, and others I have worked with in the past have also had the same problem. The first thing to discover is that every one of them has a different approach to drinking and being drunk. My wife won't touch a drop until she knows that she is home and won't be going out again. Then, if in the mood for drinking (typically five or six nights a week) she can put away the bottle in under an hour before passing out.

She is very underweight (less than six stone at just over 5' tall), because she is often home and already drunk before I return. That means she refuses to eat anything I might put in front of her.

Those I know and have known can all afford the booze; putting the price up is entirely affordable and completely irrelevant to them. The limiting factor is in how much they can put away before they can no longer physically manage to drink - either too busy vomiting (more likely a binge drinker) or simply having passed out (years of dedicated practice).

My worst scenario (typically 2-3 days a week) is when she has not been able to lay in stock for the day (often a Sunday because of limited buying hours). Then I have to put up with a sulky, aggressive drunk who has been unable to achieve Nirvana.

The do-gooders simply don't have a clue - they need to live with a practising alcoholic for a couple of decades. Politicians and the drinks companies presumably view the puritans as useful idiots, providing the excuse for them to raise more money while pretending to care.