Sunday, 20 September 2009

Drugs 'n' Alcohol...

...a topic dear to many people's hearts!

My first bit of opinionated ranting -
You might have heard in the news recently that there's been a proposed alcohol advertising ban in the UK. It would include the axing of 'Happy Hours', 2-4-1 deals, special offers, TV advertising, the list goes on. During one of their reports, ITV news interviewed the mother of a 23-year-old who was in hospital with liver failure. The mother thought the ban was a great idea, suggesting that without such promotions, her son wouldn't have been hospitalized in the first place. However, the news report also mentioned that her son had started drinking at the age of 11, during the time when his parents were going through (what I imagine must've been a pretty messy) divorce.

My point is, no young person, let alone a child, should be drinking at that young age, and certainly not to the extent that, a decade later, they're suffering from serious liver damage with only a small chance of recovery. Furthermore, that 11-year-old was hardly able to take advantage of the aforementioned special offers. And I will refrain from ranting about the responsibilities parents have to take care of the welfare of their children, but suffice it to say that something must've gone very wrong somewhere along the line if one's child is hitting the bottle even before the 'terrible teens' have hit.

The problem in this country isn't going to be solved by a blanket ban on alcohol advertising. Our cultural acceptance of binge drinking, which for most 14-year-olds is akin to a rite of passage, is what adds fuel to the fire. Until we change our very attitude towards alcohol, not much will change.

My other rant, also to do with advertising, is the drug-driving advert we're all subjected to during prime time television:

Think! Road Safety Advert

Firstly, no one's eyes become the size of saucers, no matter what they're taking! Secondly, given that it's one's pupils that dillate under the influence of alcohol, the police will be hard-pressed to notice such things unless they stop the car. And finally, it seems a little illogical to me to impose the same penalties for drink-driving as for drug-driving, given that the latter substance(s) are illegal! Aside from that, different drugs have different effects on the body - some make you more alert, others act as a sedative. Far be it for me to suggest that taking one substance over another might improve your concentration on the road, as with all things it's apparent that we only ever get one side of the story. Check out this site for more on the subject:

How Drugs Affect Driving

On a final note, I am by no means advocating drink- or drug-driving, but rather giving some food for thought. Should the penalties be the same? Caffeine is a stimulant drivers often take when on the road, but no one writes of the dangers of 'crashing out' (excuse the pun) after a few too many coffees, though it is widely reported that caffeine withdrawal can cause effects such as anxiety, nausea, headaches, and an inability to concentrate.

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