Socialist Worker

Pressure of society drives many people to find release in drinking

KEIR MCKECHNIE, a community development worker in Glasgow, spoke to Socialist Worker about the reasons behind alcohol abuse

Issue No. 1937

Drinking to find a way out?

Drinking to find a way out?

“BINGE DRINKING” has become an issue in the last 20 years. There has been an explosion in the availability of alcohol. Previously, a lot of women wouldn’t have gone to pubs. Now drink is readily available at the local supermarket, massively promoted and cheaply priced.

The breweries have spent millions targeting different groups to buy their products, particularly young people. The rise of alcopops has encouraged under-age drinking.

There are adverts aimed at people in work, telling them that they can drink all weekend and still make it into work on Monday — and not only that, but drinking all weekend is essential to progressing at work.

This image is the complete opposite of what drinking vast amounts of alcohol does to our society. You can go into any casualty department in the country and they will tell you that the bulk of the violence they see is alcohol induced. Alcohol consumption is making the issue of violence on our streets worse. It can be linked to a whole range of problems—domestic violence, suicide, road traffic accidents, marital breakdown.

There is a connection between the use of alcohol and other drugs in cities like Glasgow. What you have is a high level of mixing drugs—alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin.There is a contradictory attitude from the establishment. Often alcohol is seen as fine while hard drugs are condemned. At an anti-drugs demonstration that the Daily Record organised in Glasgow a few years ago, organisers handed out free Tennant’s lager tokens.

Then there is a big outcry about ordinary people getting drunk. Many newspapers and successive governments have pushed neo-liberal policies that have made life worse for millions of working people across Britain.

This has meant an increase in stress at work, longer hours, less control, and people stuck in low paid, highly stressful work with bullying bosses. There is also the poverty that is blighting society. Drink is one of the ways people can escape from the doldrums of their existence and the pressures on them.

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Sat 5 Feb 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1937
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