‘Alcohol and Drugs’

It’s right there in that sentence. Those three words can be amalgamated into just one word –  drugs. Take the ‘and’ out and that is what you have. Alcohol is a drug, but for some reason has been given some special singular status that distances itself from the dreaded ‘d’ word.

When we think of the word drugs we envisage:

  • A heroin addict, slumped on a mattress on the floor in a dingy bedsit.
  • A cocaine addict, a rich kid, spending their inheritance on getting high, who will invariably end up in an expensive rehab programme paid for by the bank of mum and dad.
  • A smoker in hospital with lung cancer.
  • A pot head, who just can’t get his act together no matter how hard he try’s because he just loves getting high.

There is a sense of danger around the word drugs. The sense that things can spiral out of control quickly, that once you’re in it’s grips it is hard to escape. Do we get that same sense of danger with alcohol? Hell no! When we think of alcohol we picture going out with friends and having a few too many at the pub or sitting in a restaurant with your partner and a nice bottle of red. What we don’t envisage with alcohol is:

  • Someone coming home from the pub and beating their partner black and blue.
  • The youngster drinking too much on a night out with friends and getting lured away by a stranger and waking up in the morning with no recollection of what happened.
  • The girl at a clinic having a termination because she was too drunk to remember to use protection.

These are the scenarios we should be picturing as this is what happens every single day of the week to people we know, in our communities.

Do you ever see the Government telling us to ‘Smoke Responsibly’ or ‘Snort Responsibly’? No, but warning us to ‘Drink Responsibly’ is somehow acceptable? It’s a clever ploy and one of many subconscious messages that reinforce the view that it is the fault of the person that has become addicted, not the fault of alcohol.

It is the only drug that we get labelled for when we stop taking it. I don’t feel the need to announce that I am an non- heroin or cocaine user, or an ex-smoker. Yet the second I ask for a Diet Coke, it sparks a barrage of questions as to why I am not drinking alcohol. We need to switch these questions and ask a more important one – ‘Why are you drinking alcohol?