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The alarms are sounding on alcohol consumption, so when will things change?

Updated: Jan 13


Woman drinking poison

"Alcohol deaths rise to the highest level in 14 years" screamed a BBC Scotland headline last week.


It is times like these I feel a rush of relief that I am free from the chains of alcohol which once kept me shackled. I used to worry about what it was doing to my own health, when I still drank, nagging worries with every ache or pain that hit me. It got worse as I got older.


According to the BBC and The National Records of Scotland, 1,276 people died because of alcohol-caused conditions. Another alarming fact was that death in women had increased at a much higher level than men. The average age of alcohol-related death for a woman was just 58 years old. A sobering thought as I am so close to this age myself.


Had I have been drinking when I read this, I would have glanced over it and my brain would have auto-rejected this fact as non-relevant with barely a thought. It would have taken a split second, or it would have not even registered in all likelihood. This is what I used to do, you see. I used to ignore all the signs of danger. Dismissed them with a "it won't happen to me though, I am not that bad, yet" thought. I am not the person on the street with a brown paper bag and a bottle.


Occasionally, maybe after a morning with a particularly bad hangover, I would consider the damage I was doing to my health. And when I read on a medical questionnaire about how many units were "safe" (according to the same government who receives a lot of tax revenue on alcohol), I would sometimes wonder at my own units consumed. And then I would lie on the form. Just like most of us do.


Reading something like the BBC article has a completely different effect on your brain when you are free from wanting an alcoholic drink ever again. You feel relief, and you feel so, so grateful. And then, creeping quickly up behind it, you feel a little angry. And that anger grows over time.


The data on alcohol in the United Kingdom as a whole reads grimly. According to Alcoholchange.org, "Alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among 15-49 year-olds in the UK, and the fifth biggest risk factor across all ages." The biggest! That is above smoking, drug taking and being overweight, and many of us who drink too much alcohol can add at least one of these factors to our problem wallet. Did you know this? I certainly did not when I was still drinking. I used to think: "Everybody drinks, so how can it be harmful?"


It doesn't just kill you, either, it hurts you in other ways. On the same website, it states 976,425 people in England were admitted to hospital because of alcohol consumption. That is almost a million visits, just for alcohol. And "in 2017/18, in 39% of violent incidents the victim believed the offender to be under the influence of alcohol." So, it does not only harm you, it harms others as well.


So, the alarms are sounding. When are things going to change?


They don't write any of these facts on the Carlsberg adverts, do they? And the gorgeous looking lady in the Tanquery advert, with the tight-fitting green dress, doesn't take a sip and then smash the glass into some poor drinking companions face afterwards, does she? In fact, the advertising industry paints alcohol with glamour and glitz and the promise of a fabulous social life and success when you drink their brands. If marketers were presented with the actual facts perhaps they should hang their heads in shame. But I guess drug pushers are rarely ashamed of what they do...


During my time spent getting rid of alcohol in my life I have joined many amazing forums, full of equally amazing people who are all on the ever growing sober-curious train. People who are new to these forums, who are still struggling to moderate, complain frequently that alcohol is everywhere. It's on their TVs in movies and soaps, it's on billboards, bus stops, adverts, games, in magazines, email marketing and almost every website you go to. When you are giving up alcohol you are even made to feel like you are the one with the problem! That you are not normal! Hell, you even feel like you have to make excuses for not drinking to your friends and family to begin with.


If smoking was everywhere like this, there would be an outcry. And what if drugs were everywhere? On your TV soaps, advertised on billboards, and on bus stops in front of young people and children? Another outcry! Even though alcohol is socially accepted, alcohol is addictive, and insidious, because it is hurting people who are not always aware they are being hurt. Drinking alcohol is glamourised just like smoking was in the 20th century.


I look forward to the day when children in schools read in disbelief what is happening with alcohol marketing right now. How the teacher chuckles at our foolish ways, and at the government turning a blind eye to the sheer cost of alcohol to the NHS and the tragic loss of lives that pretty bottle in the supermarket is costing us.


Because change is coming. The number of people choosing not to drink alcohol is growing in number, and with every new voice added to the army, our voices get louder. Our anger rises with every loved one lost in death or illness caused by alcohol. Yep - that's right, caused by alcohol, not the person imbibing it. And caused by the lady in the green dress and the amusing beer advert on TV. And the advertising industry who readily accept the dollars from their number one customer. And the governments who turn a blind eye in exchange for those lovely tax dollars.


If I was working in the alcohol industry right now, I'd be looking for another job. Something a little more ethical. Because otherwise I would never get to sleep.


Peace out,


Amanda x


Resources:


Alcohol change: www.alcoholchange.org



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