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Monday, 16 March 2009

The Price of Booze

The goverment are proposing putting up the cost of alcohol as a way of dealing with binge drinking. It's cheap, it's easy. Let's see what difference it makes in this situation:

You live in West Sussex and you drink a bottle of vodka a day. You are depressed, your relationship has ended, your wife, who you are in the process of separating from, is sleeping with your best friend, you miss you kids. You get more depressed. One day, in November you are driving to visit friends. You have a bottle of Vodka in the car because you know you won't be able to manage the night without it. Suddenly you find you can't manage the drive without it. You pull over, turn off the engine and drink it. Your son, who is in the back, is terrified, and rings your ex partner. She calls the police and you are arrested.

The system swings into action, only trouble is, it's the criminal justice system, not the health care system. You are charged with refusing a breathyliser and resisting arrest. By the time the magistrates consider the case, you have been to the doctor; she signs you off work with depression. You are definitely depressed. She refers you to the hospital to deal with detox. You admit you have a problem with alcohol. A bottle of vodka a day. The magistrates recognise you are ill, and that you want to get better; they ban you for driving for six months and wish you well in your recovery. You want to start your recovery the next day. You go back to the doctor. She tells you again she's referred you to the hospital. How long will it take to get an appointment, you say. She can't say. The hospital won't tell you either. You see the agency, Ad Action, who tell you that if you come off the drink it is likely to make you ill, so you carry on drinking, though you manage to bring it down to a bottle or two of wine. You don't qualify for rehab because no one, other than yourself is damaged by your drinking.

You go back to the doctor. You still want to stop drinking, but you are afraid and unable to manage it on your own. You also want to go back to work, you are running out of money. You go to AA. They tell similar stories. You wait until a sponsor comes available. That could be weeks - months. Lots of people need sponsors. All this time, your ex wife is making it difficult for you to see the kids. You hate that, it's making you worse, but you know it's probably justified. You've reduced the alcohol to a bottle a day, but it's still using up all your money.

Eventually it's six months since the breakdown, still no appointment from the hospital to help with detox, so you decide to give up the drink on your own. What the Ad Action man said happens. You have a seizure, then another. An ambulance takes you to hospital, where they give you some drugs. You are relieved that something is happening. Then you go nuts. You don't know where you are - everyone is out to get you. You are alone. You will never see your children again. You leave the hospital. Your children are at the end of a dark tunnel, you can't reach them. The hospital say they can't keep the bed unless you go back. You go back, but you can't remember why you are there and leave again. This time your behaviour is threatening. The hospital call the police. They take you to the cells. You have no idea why you feel so ill or why you are there. No one, nothing makes any sense. They can't section you because you are not mentally ill. You are experiencing DT. They send you back to hospital, but the hospital can't keep you there because you haven't been sectioned. You are confused, you try to leave, the police pick up up again. You might have permanent brain damage now, you will find out about that later. Your family watch helpless as this happens. They say that if you'd been given the appointment at the hospital, or given rehab, rather than left to contintue drinking for six months and counting before trying to stop the drink on your own, you would have been okay. If you could think straight, you'd agree with them. Stopping the drink, when you've been heavily addicted, is dangerous. You can see that now. It's life-threatening. It also hurts, it's agony. So the best thing seems to be to carry on drinking. Except the goverment, you hear, are putting a few pence on the bottles. Hhmmn, let me see, you say to yourself. The booze has gone up in price. Do I risk a stroke, seizures, brain damage to save myself a few bob, or do I carry on? Madness lies both ways.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Early Bird

I joined the RSPB a couple of weeks ago, and they sent me a birdbox as a free gift. That afternoon I nailed it to a tree and within an hour and a half, a pair of great tits found it, checked it out and moved in. It was as if they'd got hold of the Evening Standard just as it came off the press, rung the agent and gone round immediately; paid their deposit, then and there, in cash. Two days later, next door's cat had sussed the development and, even though he is not that agile and rather overweight, managed to balance on a branch in striking distance of the entrance. That must be like finding out the central line runs directly below your flat, no mention of that in the advert. The birds are going to be alright. I reckon if the cat made a swipe, he'd fall off onto the Hydrangea, and we've fixed up a cone of wire mesh incase he turns out to be more sporty than he looks.