Certainly on the practical side, I would like to see three main prongs of attack to deal with the surge of binge drinking and alcohol dependency.
- More education, particularly to the young, on the dangers of alcohol. Perhaps along the same lines as anti-smoking, adverts and warning labels on bottles could warn that alcohol kills. A few choice pictures of someone bleeding to death or a diseased liver thrown in for good measure. I accept that, like with many things, the young will think they are immune from disease and death. It's a long way off and won't effect them, but, of course it will. How you get that across, I don't know. But it's worth a try.
- Availability - reducing dratically the number of outlets that sell alcohol, the hours they can sell it and the number of bottles that can be bought at any one time - a bit like paracetamol, you can only buy two packets of 16 at one time. (Yes,you can go into several chemists or supermarkets over the course of a day and buy 100 paracetamol, if you have your mind set on suicide, but at least it is not made easy for you). Sorry - to the "sensible" drinkers - but it's all for the common good.
- Reducing prices will help a little but not as much as the first two.
In addition to all that, we still need the medical profession to understand alcoholism better, as my experience with Greg was that, like a hot potato, they could not wait to get him out of the building and off their hands. There was little money for rehab or detox and so there were too many waiting too long in the queue (usually at least a year) to get into a rehab programme, by which time, the person was too ill to be admitted or dead. Given the numbers turning to alcohol on a large scale nowadays, we could do with far more approachable counsellors or GPs trained to deal with alcoholism in their area, so that they can advise alcoholics and their families how to cope/go about solving the problem. I always found there was relatively nowhere to turn to that could offer real help. If it's like that in a big city like London, then how much more of a problem is it anywhere else?
As I said, it's a complex issue and needs far more thought and money thrown at it, more than little me can suggest, if we are to overcome the enormous problems that loom on the horizon. I do hope Ministers and professionals are working hard at it, or else I dread to think what the future holds.
Meanwhile, on a more cheerful note, Kay is home from uni for two weeks' Easter holiday and it is fantastic having her company again. To coincide with Kay's arrival, the cat has picked up some sort of skin allergy on her ears, with tufts of fur falling out so she looks very odd with two bald ears either side of the furry crown of her head (not a little dissimilar from Dobbie in Harry Potter). A visit to the vet yeterday left me £48 poorer but at least with a diagnosis and some oily antibiotic medication to smear on her ears. Here she is in her latest choice of resting place of the month - my desk!We're off soon to visit my mum for a few days, so a Happy Easter in the meantime and don't eat too much chocolate, although I can't see Kay and me sticking to that!