It's Alcohol Awareness Week, and we Irish are probably more aware than most, given how the World Health Organisation found that we come second out of 194 countries - Austria is first - in the global binge-drinking stakes. And as 24pc of us don't drink at all, that's a lot of martinis between the rest of us. According to a Health Ireland survey in 2015, around 7pc of us are 'alcohol dependent', which works out at between 150,000 to 200,000 Irish citizens with drink problems. There are 20 million in the US, but it's the EU which has the world's highest concentration of alcoholics, with even 'normal' drinkers consuming double the global average. And in Ireland, we live in a culture where it is still more acceptable to drink alcoholically, than it is to seek help for drinking alcoholically.
As anyone who has ever been on the wrong end of alcoholism knows - either because you are an alcoholic yourself, or are in close proximity to one - it's the opposite of fun drinks with friends. It's miserable drinks by yourself, because by the time you realise you have a problem and need to stop, your alcoholism will have painted you into a corner. It's a condition of obsession and craving, loneliness and isolation. Zero fun.
So how, if you have reached this unfun place, do you reverse out of it? While it is acknowledged that there is no cure for alcoholism - you cannot zap it with chemo, or medicate it like depression, or grow out of it, nor will it ever plateau or level off, because it is chronic and progressive and ultimately wants you dead, the same as any other disease - the good news is that it's entirely treatable. Abstinence is the most widely accepted solution, but how do you stop? And how do you stay stopped?
Source: Suzanne Harrington, Irish Independent, 20th November 2018