Longford Leader columnist Mattie Fox: When will we wake up to the demon that is alcohol?

Mattie Fox

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Mattie Fox

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When will we wake up to the demon of drink?

George Burns, the American comic & actor once remarked “I get drunk on one drink”....then hesitating says....“I’m not sure if it’s the thirteenth or fourteenth.”

Many alcoholics will know what he meant, and many who’d be horrified to be described as alcoholics would be highly indignant. Yet they’ll know too, privately, whilst publicly being in denial.

Alcohol is the most manipulative of substances; almost nobody knows they are alcoholics until it’s too late. They’ve been imbibing for years, taking far too much into their systems without any apparent harm, but then one day they become aware that all is not well.

Also read: Four Longford men in court over drink fuelled incident

They put the blip down to something like work, or family pressure, or stress from over reaching, or lack of sleep, or a bereavement, or getting sick occasionally which was never the case previously. The one thing about which they’ll be in denial is their drinking.

It could be the tenth drink before they get a real buzz, or indeed conversely it could be their first! The dreaded drink has no set patterns, it affects different people in different ways, at different times.

In Ireland, too many of us are afflicted by the demon of drink. Some go to the pub every night, and have a few drinks and go home without any affect at all.These are the people who know how to drink. But in every single bar, you’ll find someone who cannot stop drinking until they are bleary eyed, or talking too much, or too loudly...the signs are easy to spot.

Everyone notices, but nobody says anything because that would be too uncomfortable, and in any case the one drinking too much would possibly react angrily which would be another kettle of fish altogether. And round and round it goes. Often the publican will drive the off colour person home, but more often than not, they wouldn’t accept the offer in the first place.

That’s one of the problems with alcohol, it blinds the user. Of course, it is an offence to serve anyone who has had enough. With one single exception, I’ve never seen anyone refused drink for that reason, however. That says something about the attitude in Ireland.

Meanwhile families suffer, women wait at home hoping that their husbands make it home safe. Occasionally, it’s the men who wait.

Families are destroyed by too much drinking. When will we wake up?

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