There's been a lot of publicity recently about alcoholism. First the revelation from Brad Pitt that alcohol was responsible for breaking up his marriage to Angelina Jolie. Then a report that baby boomers are at risk of developing deadly conditions by regularly binge drinking. Then a feature in ITV's Loose Women in which Nadia Sawahla spoke of her husband's alcohol addiction.
Brad Pitt calls himself a "professional drinker" who has been sober for six months. It dangerous when people are in denial and do not truly recognise their alcoholism and use another term for it, as if "professional drinker" makes it sound more respectable. He's a recovering alcoholic plain and simple. "Professional" sounds like he could like it or leave it, switch to another "profession", if it did not agree with him. The fact is that an alcoholic has an uphill struggle to leave that profession. That Brad Pitt has been sober for six months is good - all credit to him - but it takes even harder work to keep that up. Time will tell whether he succeeds. Meanwhile, it has cost him his marriage and constant contact with his kids, as is so often the case with alcoholism. All too often, it costs you your life.
As for the baby boomers, they are in their sixties. They probably have reasonable pensions, considerable savings stashed away and a lot of time on their hands. Either living it up on the Costa del Something or housebound in grey Blighty, the time on their hands gives them carte blanche to drink, because they can and they're bored. No need to get up for work the next day. If they drink too much they can sleep it off. Nobody is going to rebuke them for being late or not turning up. Sitting in front of the TV with a bottle of wine each evening probably doesn't count either - in their eyes - so they too are in denial. Apparently a quarter of men over 65 and 13% of women drink FIVE days a week. This increases their risk of common cancers (bowel and breast), liver and heart disease. (My
hairdresser is one of these... she recently confessed she cannot wait for seven o'clock to
come round each evening when she can crack open a bottle of wine to
remove the stresses of the day, but
sometimes she cannot wait and opens it at five o'clock. She finds it
hard to have an alcohol-free day let alone alcohol-free week.) Figures published last week reveal an estimated 339,000 alcohol-related admissions in 2015/16, up 22 per cent from 2005/6. Of course these figures will not all be attributable to baby-boomers, as the young too are on a car-crash course with their drinking habits. Thanks to the Labour government who relaxed drinking laws in 2005 because they thought the British public could handle 24-hour drinking. What were they thinking? Maybe we DID need a Nanny state to stop us all becoming a nation of zombies with medical problems. Governments can be in denial too, although cynically the increased tax revenue they stood to gain on alcohol probably had something to do with their decision.
My heart went out to Nadia Sawahla on Loose Women when she revealed that her husband is a recovering alcoholic. It had nearly cost them their marriage too. Often partners of alcoholics are in denial too and hope it is just a passing phase that their partner will grow out of. However, Nadia gave him an ultimatum and thankfully he responded by becoming sober - something that has to date lasted 13 years. He is one of the lucky ones. Statistics show that only one in ten manage to pull themselves out of their addiction and of course staying that way takes a lifetime of immense will power. Just one little drink can lead to addiction again.