They don’t call it the “demon drink” for nothing. In Australia, it seems like the demons associated with alcohol are never far away.
Proof of this can be seen in hospital emergency departments, police lock-ups, late-night streets and the carnage and harm that this drug causes.
Alcohol should be called a drug because that’s what it is. It’s a legal drug, but a drug nonetheless.The legality and widespread availability of alcohol are undoubtedly key reasons why it is ranked as the biggest problem drug in the Hunter and elsewhere.
Drinking is part of Australian culture. And for many people, alcohol is not a problem.
The phrase “everything in moderation” rings true for many things, as it does for alcohol. In fact, research has shown that moderate drinking can have health benefits.
Heavy drinking, though, is a major cause of preventable death in Australia and across the globe. Its long-term effects include heart, liver and brain damage, increased risk of some cancers, diabetes and depression.
It can lead to violence, harm unborn children and ruin relationships.
Hunter Primary Care drug and alcohol manager Kylie Bailey says the festive season can be a good time to reflect on drinking habits. Some may want to consider cutting down or quitting altogether.
For others, the need to stop drinking is a matter of life and death.
Take the man who spoke anonymously to the Newcastle Herald about the harm his alcoholism caused before he stopped drinking. His drinking caused the tragic death of a teenager in a car accident and two house fires that could have taken more lives.
This man’s traumatic backstory points to the root causes of a terrible addiction. It also further highlights that society should never turn a blind eye to the mental health struggles that underlie substance abuse.
This man was able to get help and he’s now been sober for 44 years. While he’s felt unbearable guilt and shame, he’s also gained some pride for turning his life around and helping others.
Alcoholism is considered the most serious form of problem drinking. But there are other levels of drinking that can cause many problems. It’s easy to forget the low-risk drinking levels that health authorities recommend. But it’s worth remembering that unsafe drinking can have serious consequences in the short and long term.