As long as it remains socially acceptable for the sole objective of a night out to be to get absolutely blitzed by bingeing on alcohol, then our society will be left to pick-up the tab for the inevitable consequences.
Those consequences spread far beyond the sick bowl and hangover cure to include:
- Policing: both the direct cost arising from the increased need for control and prevention of drink related crime, plus the intangible damage to public/police relationships arising from the perceived intrusiveness of such policing.
- Health and welfare: not only the damage done to the physiology of the drinker, but also the injuries perpetrated and sustained as a result of drunken violence.
- Emotional and psychological damage to self and relationships: depression and anxiety related illnesses often fuel drinking, leading to a devastating downward spiral. That impacts the psychological health of the drinker and of their family often leading to family breakup, fragmenting an already fragile social structure and placing increased burden on social services.
- Childcare: it always has amazed me that we can be criminally charged for being drunk in charge of a car, yet we are rarely in danger of being so challenged for being drunk in charge of a vulnerable and impressionable child.
These health related costs are highlighted in a report arising from research conducted by the NHS Confederation and Royal College of Physicians.
Whilst we can point to the failings of government to address this issue, that is surely missing the point.
The answer is in our hands, not theirs. Put down the drink, step away from the bar and think. Only when we change our perception from ‘good time means being pissed senseless‘ to something more responsible, will we even begin to address what is becoming an increasingly dangerous and resource-sapping social trend.