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Topic: HBetty Ford where are you?  (Read 1254 times)

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HBetty Ford where are you?
« on: November 21, 2002, 01:27:48 AM »
Here is a subject that might spark some lively discussion in our chat room..

    I worked as a alcohol and drug psychotherapist in the states.  When I first arrived in the UK I thought I might do this here until I ran into too many obstacles to count.  Now I have come to the conclusion that the UK does not want to address the issue of addiction at all.  I figure it is because there are too many addicts and not enough money in the NHS to combat it.  I took several college courses hoping to get certified to work in the UK.  All of my instructors worked within the prison system and pretty much told me that there was no use for addiction counselling in the greater public.

     I have come to find their advice is accurate.  Because we are an island nation the hard drugs, although out there, are seemingly kept to a minimum.  However, the disease of addiction I feel is probably greater here than in the US because of the legal drug of alcohol.

    Wow!  I could go on forever telling you about my hands on experience with this one.   Europe and the UK pride themselves on being so cutting edge and advanced socially and yet their ignorance when it comes to addiction never ceases to amaze me.

    I have had so many friends throughout the years who are what we in the states would call functioning alcoholics.  Men and women who cannot live without that pub connection....or not even that...I have no qualms about pub life.  The pub seems to be integral to the British way of life.  However, excessive use of alcohol is detremental to ones health and although the press is constantly reminding us on the number of "units" that is safe to drink. they almost never address the fact that one of ten people drink to access and in this country I suspect that stastistic is much greater.  

    Self help groups are few and far between and the NHS has virtually no rehab for those who suffer from alcoholism.  I'm sure those of you who now live in London are shocked at the number of drunks on the sidewalks asking for money.  I was when I first arrived.  I was.  When they would ask me for money for food I would persist until they admitted that what they really wanted was money for a beer.  I always gave them a pound. There is no way out for them.  

    Now I don't know if addiction has touched your life but I am suspecting that it has in some way.  Most of us know a friend or family member who suffers from this chronic and deadly disease.  As someone who has lived here for years, I am deeply disturbed by the lack of action the British people have made in addressing this malady.  At times I feel that the society almost condones it.  It is immature and childish the way the society laughs at drunks until they commit a crime.  Look at the football hooligans.  Most of their shennanigans would never happen if they weren't drunk.  My husband and I went downtown last year to see a film and I was assaulted by a young man who would have never laid a hand on me if he had not been drunk.  Alcoholism seems to be a part of British life.  As a former therapist I sometimes look at various members of parliment while they are on the television and I see their red faces and know that they are functioning alcoholics.  

    While you are writing home praising the great NHS keep this in mind:  they  are hopeless in dealing with the second greatest killer after heart disease: addiction and the medical complications that come from it.

    The British think that our American touchy, feely society is to be laughed at.  I say that America is cutting edge  on diseases such as addiction.  The British say keep a stiff upper lip and if you feel bad put that lip around a pint.  

    They are  living in some kind of unrealstic dreamworld.
They are ignorant fools who condemn their sickest to live a life of hell.  They offer no help.  Now put that in your NHS is AOK hats and think about it.


  • LisaE
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Re: HBetty Ford where are you?
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2002, 09:07:27 AM »
I believe it is far too easy to not have a problem if the problem is not seen. It's seen if it is ackowledged. It's acknowledged if someone shouts "hey, we got a problem, let's do something about it!"

Time Magazine this week published a malt whiskey use by country. Granted, this is just one type of beverage, but it's indicative of use. Some of the observations:

  • The French drink more whisky than any other nationality in the world
  • Greeks drink the most per person
  • Top five markets by volume 2001 (in millions of bottles sold)
    • France 153.99
    • Spain 137.4
    • UK 114.6
    • US 110
    • Japan 70.1

  • Despite a slugglish global economy, 2001 was a banner year for the Scottish whisky industry

I note that it's not on a per-person rate. That is, population isn't accounted for; it's just number of sales. Certainly indicative of a problem considering the UK has only a tiny fraction the population of the US.

Lesson from this? If your IT and general business stock starts slipping, invest in spirit manufacturing.

Anyway, off-topic. Just to show there is incredible use (ergo statistically easier to lead to abuse) of alcohol in the UK.

Again, slightly off-topic. I am appalled by how parents are so nonchalant about their teens' (and earlier) drinking. The excuse? "Other parents let their kids do it and I can't be seen as being different." Know what? Put parents in a room all together and they'd all say the same thing, then suddenly turn to each other in disbelief, pointing to their neighbour and reacting with great surprise "You mean, you feel this way too? ? ?"  ::)

It only takes one brave parent to say "I'm fed up and I'm not going to take it anymore." Know what? Kids want rules. And then they grow up and say to everyone "My parents never cared about me. They never showed any interest in what I did. I got away with murder and they were so blind and stupid."

Sorry.  ;D  Nerve hit there.

You will notice much of this country seems to run on tradition. Not just because of the attitude that "we've done it this way for centuries and it's always worked" but more to do with remembering what made the UK great. Its people. Its small corner shops. Its pub-on-each-corner. Suddenly, progress happens and these things slowly become affected. It's hard to change. But it's harder to see the familiar yanked from you. Take away the corner pub and you take away a country's heart and soul and tradition. Tell people they are drinking too much and they'll walk any line you ask just to prove they can handle their liquor. It's a proud country of tradition. Beasley, you're asking people to take an honest look at themselves. It's not an easy thing to do since much of peoples' core motivation is self pride. Ever notice how much 'correcting' goes on here?

I personally would tackle abuse in another way. I'd take alcohol out of kids' reach. I'd put on an age limit of 21 and I would enforce a carding system for sale of alcohol. "Anyone who looks under 30 will be carded."  I'd teach about alcohol and drug abuse in the schools. I'd give a place for children to find things (good things/constructive things/community support things) to do. I'd find an ad agency that would make this stuff appeal to the kids as being really cool. Kids in turn will teach their parents. (My own son got me to stop smoking...all because of the anti-smoking education he got.)

I don't think you're going to win in this situation if you just tell people they are too drunk to function. They'll just want to prove you wrong by drinking more.
Married to Graham, we run our own open-source computer training company in beautiful Wiltshire out of our 1814 Georgian Regency home (a former lodging house and once featured in Antiques Roadshow)

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Re: HBetty Ford where are you?
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2002, 09:37:06 AM »

I have to disagree with you on the UK taking drug abuse less seriously than the U.S. does. It seems that you need to loosen up on your definition of drug addicts and alcoholics. You may have never used either recreationally, but a lot of people have, with no dire consequences.

I have no credentials as a drug or alcohol counselor--I simply have 15 credits in psychology. However, my dad has a Ph.D. in psychology (i.e., he's a psychologist) and treated addicts for many, many years. Nothing, addiction-wise, is drastically different here from addiction in the States.

If you think drunks and addicts in the streets are exclusive to England, I can list Washington, D.C., areas where you can hang out with drunks, crack and heroin addicts, hookers who became hookers simply BECAUSE of their addictions, etc. Believe me, I've been asked for money more times than I could begin to put a number to--it got to the point where I'd say I'd be happy to buy him/her a meal, but not to just hand over money.

The NHS sucks overall--treating addicts is the least of its problems these days. I agree that U.S. medical care is a hundred times better than it is here, overall. However, I think it's silly to suggest that the U.S. handles drug or alcohol abuse any better than the UK does. Given that the gross majority of homicides in the States are drug or alcohol fueled, I'd go so far as to say the UK's probably doing considerably better than the U.S. is...

Your heart is absolutely in the right place, B. But you, of all people, should know that preaching is about the last thing anyone with a substance abuse problem is going to respond positively to. I'm sure you don't mean to, but you kind of come off as holier-than-thou. I think your best bet would be to try to be (or present yourself as) a little less judgmental, and considerably more understanding. I can't think of ANYONE who'd choose to be a drug addict or alcoholic. There's a pain behind substance abuse that goes way beyond a simple need for a buzz. Treating the sympton without getting to the cause will never work, and all the preaching in the world won't change that.

Lisa, no offense, but it's silly to suggest that changing the drinking age here will change teens' drinking habits. It didn't work in the States (the age changed from 18 to 21 when I was in college--it changed nothing with student drinking habits, although 75% of the campus suddenly couldn't legally drink). I'm 37 now, and still see the folly in thinking people under 21 won't find their way around age limits. There were many ways to get around it then, and I'm sure there are even more now.

I don't suggest the subject be taken lightly. However, I know for a fact that PSA's and scare tactics will have zero effect. I tried to talk several 14- to 15-year-olds out of dropping out of school and getting pregnant about a year ago. They were very working class, considered themselves very worldly, and actually started to listen to me simply because I had a different accent (I was walking down the street, smoked at the time, one asked me for a light, and that's how we got started talking). But for all I told them about how they should aim at getting as educated as possible, seeing a lot of the world, quitting smoking while it was still relatively easy, etc., and for all the enthusiastic (and sincere) agreement I got from them, I knew the effect of my words would last about 20 minutes (no, make that 1.5) once I walked away.

No one can change the world. If that were possible, no one would eat meat or wear leather, suede or furs, in my book. We all have our causes. :)


« Last Edit: November 21, 2002, 10:03:10 AM by Suzanne »

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Re: HBetty Ford where are you?
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2002, 05:12:21 PM »
People may say that the British condone this excessive amount of drinking ?? I don't think so! We may have different attitudes to it that is all. Just like in the US there is a different attitude to drunk driving....or filling the children up with pills because they are thought to be hyperactive! or the different attitude towards guns. UK is the UK. US is the US. 3000 miles apart and both with there seperate and similar issues! :) [smiley=bobby.gif]

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