I welcomed the report published a few months ago by a group of MP’s saying that some concreat measures needed implementing to get with grips with the epidemic of binge drinking in the UK; a problem that is perhaps worse here in Wales than anywhere else. I am not a teetotaler but I do think that binge drinking is a real problem in society today. I’m not saying this in a judgmental and a patronizing way I hope; but rather I’m saying this out of love and care. The main recommendations that were put forward by the MP’s were a recommendation to ban drink promotions such as ‘pound parties’ and ‘buy two get three’; it was also recommended that supermarkets should be banned from selling alcohol as loss leaders.
The pro-Alcohol lobby and pressure groups, who are mainly funded by the alcohol industry, have come out strong against these recommendations. The pro-Alcohol lobby insist that there is no need for government measures and that the individual should take responsibility; they argue that the government has no place to determine how much alcohol one consumes in one given night. Their emphasis is on personal choice. But what they fail to understand (or choose to ignore) is that some peoples personal choice to binge drink is not really personal and private at all because binge drinking puts enormous strain on the NHS. Therefore those personal choices people make to binge drink actually effects us all, we all as tax payers pay for the NHS do we not? The reality is that binge drinking is only a personal choice – it’s consequences are unfortunately public. In my opinion the government therefore should take measures to do something about binge drinking.
When this story was on the news back in November Radio Cymru (the BBC’s Welsh Language radio station) got Wynford Ellis Owen to comment on the MP’s recommendations. Wynford is a recovering Alcoholic and now works as Chief Executive for The Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs (formerly know at the Temperance Society), a Church funded organization. What Wynford said was very profound, he pointed out that stopping binge drinking using such government measures were commendable but these kinds of initiatives were only scratching the surface of the problem. One must ask, he said, what drives these people to binge drinking in the first place? What are they trying to escape from? Of course, the answer to that question, as Wynford knew, is with the Church. People turning to Christ is the only full remedy to binge drinking, but the odd government measure here and there won’t do any damage I don’t think.