Alcohol and drugs in the news

Media savvy

The news and views from the national media

Laws against smoking have irreversibly shifted attitudes. The same drive is needed for alcohol consumption. The police, magistrates and judges must insist on rehab for alcoholics as they do for drug addiction. And finally, while the NHS must care for those already addicted, it needs to get tougher on those who won’t stop drinking till they are blotto. Inform their employers or the benefits office. Show them there is no such thing as a free bed. Shifting a culture is not easy but it can be done.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Independent on Sunday, 6 September

The [charity] sector is crying out for rationalisation through merger. It’s been talked about for years; but the holier-than-thou approach many charities take to their cause, combined with their ad hoc back offices, means that there’s little motivation to develop in this way… We need a Big Bang in the sector, with potential and existing charities required to justify why they are not joining others sharing the same purpose.

Matthew Patten, Telegraph, 3 September

People refer to our culture as ‘alcogenic’. It isn’t, it is alcophiliac. Drink is not merely the socially acceptable addiction, but the socially approved fix. Alcohol is how our society detaches itself from stress, be it the angst of work or parenthood. It is how it celebrates and mourns, marks the holiday and the everyday. Millions of people – like me – come under the category ‘functional alcoholic’, as if the ‘functional’ somehow negates the disease.

Hannah Betts, Telegraph, 14 September

The debate on minimum pricing for alcohol will now switch from the courts to the academic arena and the researchers will be asked to provide the proof of the policy the government wants to implement. When a government looks to academia to provide evidence for its favoured policy we should all be uncomfortable. Universities love government funding – they depend upon it. So the temptation will be to accept the government’s largesse and to deliver the findings the government wants to hear. Only in this case, the audience will not be sympathetic Scottish Government ministers, but sceptical European legal experts.

Neil McKeganey, Scotsman, 7 September

A mother who paid £300 for a dozen packets of cocaine as a birthday present for her daughter’s 18th has been spared jail. Nicola Austen, 37, with six previous drugs convictions, expected to be sent to prison and turned up at Maidstone Crown Court with an overnight bag. But the judge gave her a suspended sentence and community service because she is a ‘carer’ for her 14-year-old son and her elderly grandmother. Run that by me again. A woman who buys cocaine for her teenage daughter is spared jail because she is considered a suitable person to look after a 14-year-old boy? Am I missing something here?

Richard Littlejohn, Mail, 11 September