Drink and Drugs News DDN December 2019 - Page 25

HAVE YOUR SAY Write to the editor and get it off your chest [email protected] They said what..? Spotlight on the national media CHOICE WOULD BE A FINE THING… SO FAR, the government’s response to county line drug dealing has been to point the finger of blame at the middle classes, alleging that their cocaine use is fuelling the rise in knife crime, which they erroneously also link to county lines. While it makes for an easy headline, it neatly distracts attention away from the underlying social problems that an increasing number of young people face but appear to be invisible to politicians. This cohort of young people have been abandoned by the state at a time when state intervention is most needed. Ian Hamilton, Independent, 7 November As a society, we need to do more to recognise county lines exploitation before the offer of support turns to punishment. THE TRAUMA of being involved in county lines can leave deep scars. Young people drop out of school, become alienated from their peers, and witness and execute extreme violence. Many enter the criminal justice system once they turn 18, often becoming locked into a revolving door of criminality, their chances of living a normal life reducing with the passing of time… As young people get older, WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM the way people perceive them shifts from being the victims of crime to perpetrators. As a society, we need to do more to recognise exploitation before the offer of support turns to punishment. Sonya Jones, Guardian, 25 November PROBLEM DRUG USE IN SCOTLAND has been allowed to fester into a scandal, thanks in no small part to the perpetual and circular row over reserved and devolved powers waged between Edinburgh and London for decades. Even in our current febrile political climate, with a general election looming and debate raging over Scotland’s constitutional future, that cannot go on. But it will. Martyn McLaughlin, Scotsman, 6 November WHEN WILL WE EVER LEARN just how much damage the unrestrained use of marijuana is doing to our society? When will we ever do anything about it, as wiser countries do? I make no apologies for coming back to this subject, as I remain amazed by the growing support of ignorant politicians and media for the legalisation of this terrifying poison. If they get their way it will take us straight into a nightmare version of the third world, with all the misery but without all the sunshine… Far from legalising marijuana, we should be ferociously enforcing the laws against its possession, and driving it out of use, as the sensible governments of Japan and South Korea still do. Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday, 10 November M As we approach ‘Dry January’ Amy Dresner asks, ‘Can sobriety be both a health trend and a matter of life and death?’ onths ago I innocently tweeted: ‘I’m all down with the new sobriety/sober movement but please let’s not forget among the mocktails, the trendiness and the tees with cutesy slogans that for many of us, sobriety wasn’t a health trend, lifestyle choice or a socio- political statement but a matter of life and death.’ I got dozens of shares and ‘amens!’ and an equal amount of people coming after me with flaming pitchforks accusing me of ‘gatekeeping sobriety’ or sarcastically consoling me that ‘sorry being sober isn’t punk rock anymore’. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the ‘new sobriety,’ it is a new trend to not drink, to be sober but not because you’re alcoholic necessarily. It was born out of ‘Dry January’ and alcohol-free events with the precept of exploring your relationship with alcohol. It’s primarily intended for people in ‘grey area drinking’ – not full-blown alcoholics, but people who might send some stupid texts, occasionally regret how much they drank, or not be as fully functional as they’d like the morning after. If you want to take a break from drinking to see if you can be social without liquid courage or not be hungover for your 7am spin class, I fully support that. And if you can stay stopped because of that, fantastic. I am not at all saying that you need to wrap your car around a pole or have your parents remortgage their house to send you to treatment half a dozen times before you realise that your life is infinitely better without getting loaded. But all the coverage of the ‘new sobriety’ in the media is missing an important piece of the story: if you CANNOT do a full month without drinking or if your life gets exponentially better when you stop drinking… you might actually be an alcoholic. And sorry but there ain’t nothing trendy or cool about that. And ‘alcoholic’ and ‘alcoholism’, the words that really need to be de-stigmatised, are being left out of this conversation and, frankly, the whole movement. Granted, I’m a recovering blackout drunk and IV drug addict so a ‘Dry January’ was pretty implausible unless I was locked up in a rehab or a psych ward. For us alcoholics, the idea of ‘moderation’, the myth that we can stop or start at will, is an ethereal dream that takes many of us out of recovery and keeps us experimenting over and over again till we hit rock bottom or die. I’ll be honest, when you’re an alcoholic this ‘new sobriety’ feels a bit like people choosing to be gluten-free because it reduces inflammation or whatever, when you actually have to thanks to your celiac disease. And the popularity of this idea that you can just CHOOSE not to drink undermines the current science that for many people there’s a genetic component to their alcoholism, an anomaly in the reward system of the brain that makes that choice… well, pretty much impossible. This is an extract of Amy Dresner’s article for RecoveryWrx, a site about recovery, for people in recovery, by people in recovery. www.recoverywrx.org DEC 2019-JAN 2020 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • 25