Alcohol – a scourge on society?
Alcohol – a scourge on society?
Imagine person A has had a great day at work, has been to the gym on the way home and is now preparing a healthy meal while drinking a glass of wine, which they enjoy as part of their usual winding down ritual. Person B is stressed, with money worries, the kids were late for school, the house is a mess, they’ve had a fight with their partner and are now drowning their sorrows drinking a bottle of wine (or two) – and this is what they do almost every day to cope with life.
Person A we could consider normal and healthy and not question their drinking habit, whereas person B could be of concern, and we would perhaps even label them having a problem with alcohol. But what is the difference between them and their alcohol consumption if we stop to consider that there is a substance in our lives that is commonly accepted as normal, but it comes with a price – a devastating cost to us all.
In the time it took you to read to this point, one person was killed by alcohol – “alcohol kills one person every 10 seconds worldwide”
If we skim the news headlines: - In England in 2018/19 there were 1.26 million hospital admissions related to alcohol consumption (7.4% of all hospital admissions) - Between 2017 and 2022 the total cost to the NHS of alcohol-related illness and deaths will be £17 billion a new report estimates - In the USA, the economic costs of drinking too much alcohol “were estimated to be $249 billion, or $2.05 a drink, in 2010. Most of these costs were due to binge drinking and resulted from losses in workplace productivity, healthcare expenses, and crimes related to excessive drinking”.
This last headline raises the point that whilst there is a toll on our body, on families and healthcare services, there are also other knock-on effects.
We may think what we do in our own home or when we go out is our business, yet it is plain to see that drinking alcohol is a scourge on society – “Over half of adults in Wales suffer harm from someone else’s drinking”.
If we take that wider societal cost into consideration, it is estimated that the total “social cost of alcohol to England” in 2006-07 was £55.1 billion.
- £22.6 billion costs to individuals and households, including:
- Crime and violence
- Private health and care costs
- Informal care costs for families
- Lost income due to unemployment
- Unusually, spending on alcohol consumption above guideline levels (on the basis that “From a family perspective the economic impact of such purchasing can be devastating”)
- £21.9 billion ‘human values’ costs: the pain and grief associated with illness, disability and death
- £3.2 billion costs to public health and care services
- £5 billion costs to other public services, such as social care, criminal justice and fire services
- £7.3 billion of costs to employers due to lost productivity, absenteeism and accidents”.
And this just for one country. Are these ripples not vast? Alcohol is both a societal issue and an individual issue.
And whilst there maybe question marks over Governments’ relationships with the alcohol industry, and sponsorship, Governments in the world have responded to the issues caused by alcohol in a number of ways including:
- Increasing tax on alcohol
- Banning advertising of alcohol
- Reducing the number of alcohol outlets
- Revoking alcohol offenders’ right to drink
- Putting state governments in charge of selling alcohol But alcohol continues to raise a call for concern despite these measures.
What then are research studies and the medical profession saying about alcohol?
Whilst there are studies that say alcohol is good for you, there is a growing number of articles and studies that say alcohol is not good for you, e.g:
- ‘Drinking and breast cancer: risk increases with even one drink’
- ‘There is no safe level of alcohol consumption which does not increase the risk of dementia… “go teetotal to reduce dementia risks”
- “In fact, alcohol is a carcinogen, a substance that can cause cancers”
On reading this, we may say that ‘everything in moderation’ is okay. But is it? For example, a study was undertaken on identical twin males where over a month one binge drank at the weekends and the other drank each day, spreading the same amount of alcohol out during the week. At the end of the month, both of the twin males had the same 25% inflammation of their liver, and “both of their bodies were reacting to the increased alcohol levels as if they were fighting injury or infection”.
So why are we still drinking alcohol?
One of the suggestions for our continued relationship with alcohol is that ‘nine out of ten drinkers are not aware of the dangers’ and ‘we continue to be willfully blind to the damage done by a deadly, damaging and commonly used drug: alcohol’, yet in the last few years there has been a fair amount of press coverage of the dangers of alcohol.
There are other potential factors too – so why are we not talking about this amongst ourselves to get to the root of the issue?
It could be said that there are a great many things that could impact on our sense of wellbeing, our feeling of settlement, steadiness, on our mood and even on our willingness to get out of bed each day. We may have a day at work where we got shouted at by a customer, we were excluded from a team conversation, and we overheard a colleague gossiping about us so we reach for alcohol; yet by the same token we may have a day where we got praise, we ticked off a lot of things in our inbox, we delivered a huge piece of work, and yet we also go and have a drink; or we may have a seemingly steady day, no ups or downs, just a normal day where we came out of work unscathed, and we also have a glass or two of alcohol – so could we say it is not the way our day went that is necessarily why we have a drink?
Whatever our day, how then can we learn to develop a healthy way to be with the tension, anxiety, stress, nervousness, overwhelm that we feel in life, during life events, and even when we have an amazing day so that we also don’t reach out to a harming substance for a reward, or a tonic of some sort? A way where we don’t reach for crutches whether they be substances (e.g. alcohol, food, or TV), but instead we develop a different relationship with ourselves and with life: where for example, by simply talking through our observations in life, or expressing what we feel and what doesn’t make sense we learn to spot when we are triggered to reach for a crutch, or even a reward.
And if we look deeper, why is it we need to reach for something to alter how we feel, even when we have a good day? Is it because we inherently know that something about the way we live is not it, and that there is more to us than the daily 9-5 and the weekends that we look forward to?
Is it possible that we seek alcohol, food and TV to dull the senses as if we did not, we would feel an inner sense of unrest – because deep down we know that we are from something grander? And because we do not know how to live that grandness, as everything we see in life confirms that we are anything but grand?
Could it be that our body through this feeling that something is not right is trying to tell us something, and that we use alcohol to try and dismiss that communication as well as to take the edge off life?
If we learn to understand the communication that our body is offering we would realise that deep down the body knows exactly how to respond to daily life circumstances, whatever kind of day we have. And that we can observe life and its outplay rather than being a victim of it, as for any situation, there is always a bigger picture.
And from this, we can claim what makes sense to us, and we learn to live in the natural steadiness of living what we know, thus supporting us to take deeper care of our body.
Is it then possible to call ‘last orders’ at the bar? As it is clear that our relationship with alcohol is well overdue for a relationship break up?
Crazy I hear you say? I say it is crazy not to…
"There is no place for alcohol in love whatsoever,Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations Volume I, ed 1, p 257
for it is a poison to the body and,
an energetic assault to the being. And thus,
no true love has ever existed if alcohol is involved
or is anywhere near the relationship.
Only a loveless mind can deny this energetic truth."