The government is cutting down on the promotion of cheap alcohol, in a bid to curb irresponsible drinking. Promotions like ‘all you can drink for £10’ and ‘women drink free’ are to go in the Queens Speech, although supermarkets will still be allowed to sell alcohol at cheap prices as a ‘loss leader’.

With the festive season just revving up, such an announcement is timely. Because excessive drinking doesn’t just affect the person doing it. Alcohol is well known as a destroyer of family lives, and as Pocket Issue Drink and Drugs reveals, some 1.4m children are in the care of a parent with a drink problem.

Christmas is traditionally a time when people with alcohol problems may drink even more than usual. So, what to do if a member of your family or a friend is drunk before the turkey is out of the oven?

The first thing is to admit to yourself that they really have a problem. Denial by the drinker – pretending the problem doesn’t exist, is just a one off, or is just the result of the person pointing the finger being ‘a bit square’ – is a key feature in any addiction. Next, get informed. There is a raft of help out there, both for the drinker – Alcoholics Anonymous, the helpline Drink Line, 0800 917 8282 – and for friends and family, including teenagers – Al Anon. Pocket Issue’s Drink and Drugs: What Can you Do section will give you much more information on the support that exists. Finally, don’t forget the kids. Don’t let them get in a car, or leave them alone, with someone who has drunk to excess. Christmas is primarily for children. Make their safety and enjoyment a priority.

Tippling the balance

One thought on “Tippling the balance

  • 4 December, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Much as it is important to address excessive consumption of alcohol, nanny state remedies such as banning the advertisement of free drinks for women are not the answer.
    I do not know what credible medical or social research has been done to identify why society as a whole is drinking more. There will be many reasons. But I doubt that price is a major factor. And certainly price elasticity of demand is not a feature that figures prominently in the minds and actions of those with alcohol addiction problems.

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