Mark Steel: Alcohol can be a problem, as can doctors

Share
Related Topics

Britain is getting drunker than ever, apparently, with a government "consultation" expected to reveal the shocking statistic that, compared with 20 years ago, there are 80 per cent more documentaries or news items showing a clip of a girl in a short skirt being sick on a bench while a lad with no shirt makes a noise like a werewolf as he's thrown into a police van.

But more worrying is the increase in pompous doctors who come on the radio or programmes like The One Show to give us guidelines, telling us, "Those of us who think we're drinking moderately may still be at risk. For example if you have one glass of wine and then later in life have another, you are technically an alcoholic."

Then they say, "Of course there's no harm in drinking safely. I often enjoy an Italian wine with my evening meal, by opening the bottle and pouring it all into a bush. That way there's only a small risk to my liver, as long as I do it once a month as a treat."

Websites offering advice on safe drinking are full of tips such as, "If you're thinking of having a lager please consult your doctor first." Or, "One way of cutting down consumption while still enjoying a wild girls' night out, is on alternate rounds instead of having a drink have a bowl of soup, or go canoeing."

On the Drinkaware site I looked at, I was told three pints of medium- strength beer, twice a week, can lead to "heart disease, liver disease, impotence and cancer." I didn't check but I expect it went on, "and a fourth pint will cause cat flu, plague, rust, feeling like a woman trapped inside a man's body, fascism and a tendency to suddenly turn inside-out in the morning."

It also told me, "If you consume alcohol to feel good, or avoid feeling bad, your drinking could become problematic." So it's only safe to drink if it's to make yourself feel worse.

Still, alcohol can cause havoc, so we shouldn't be flippant. You only have to look at the demise of poor Amy Winehouse, who presumably had three pints of bitter on a Sunday and then another three the following Friday.

But the campaign against drunkenness doesn't seem to have learned from the "Just say no" anti-drugs campaign, which connects with hardly anyone as it insists drugs lead rapidly to disaster and aren't fun. But if they weren't fun there'd be no need to tell people not to take them, just as there's no need to tell people "Just say no" to sticking your bare arse into a nest of wasps because no one does it anyway because it's not fun.

Similarly any attempt to reduce drunkenness must depend on acknowledging that people do it because it seems fun. The alcohol industry appears to be aware of this, which is why it markets drinks for teenagers as bursting with fun, then denies they're doing so with comments such as, "The product 'Marshmallow-alco', in which a marshmallow is filled with a cocktail of vodka and Southern Comfort, is not in any way aimed primarily at a younger market range."

But the Government's "consultation" is being run in conjunction with the alcohol industry, to such an extent that the British Medical Association have withdrawn from it altogether as a pointless exercise, because if we were to be cynical, the drinks industry may not be the keenest people to find ways of cutting down the sale of alcohol.

So the complex job of getting young people away from drug addiction and alcoholism will still be done by charities, such as Mentor UK. But they have declared the recent cuts in rehab clinics have made that almost impossible, saying these cuts "could have devastating implications".

So we're left with doctors telling us not to drink sherry on two consecutive Christmases, and if Amy was still around she could have updated her song by singing, "They tried to make me go to rehab but they said, 'Piss off, we've shut'."



React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: External Relations Executive

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An External Relations Executive is requi...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer (PHP & Wordpress) - Central London

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Web Dev...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative - Unskilled & Skilled

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen to jo...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Law Firm - Bromley

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Market...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: the old Palace of Westminster; Batman vs Superman; and more Greenery

John Rentoul
British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) pictured shaking hands with Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi on 25 March 2004.  

There's nothing wrong with Labour’s modernisers except how outdated they look

Mark Steel
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee