Sunday 21 January 2018

We equate drink with fitness, success, prowess, sex and celebrity in a sinister, paradoxical alliance

Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere

Marie Murray

The most recent research on the influence and impact of our national addiction to alcohol reminds us, yet again, that as a nation we drink too much and that our young people are in particular physical and psychological danger. Not that research is required when the sight of people in city streets vomiting into gutters is proof that drinking is out of control.

We are soused in drink in a culture that celebrates life and mourns its dead with drink. We 'crown' the arrival of the young into the world with drink. We christen them with drink and no important life event goes without the 'celebratory drink'. We are addicted to idealised images of ourselves through which we have equated being 'manky' with being manly, being 'hammered' with humour and being 'flootered' with fun, in an elaborate vocabulary of denial about 'the fierce drinker', the 'great drinker', the 'hard man who can hold his drink' and the woman who is 'fond of a drop'.

Generations have suffered through our denial of the danger of 'the drop' and the reality of 'being under the influence'. If we ask why young people drink, the answer is clear – they drink because we drink, the way we have taught them.

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