Recent discussions on The Claire Byrne Radio Show got me thinking about the alcohol advertising debate. I am in long term recovery from what a consultant in Baggot Street Hospital described my condition “as one of chronic alcoholism” back in 1977. He saved my sanity and my life… thank you to that unknown medical expert. Sadly, I wasn’t well enough then to know or even remember his name. I was aged 27 and now those numbers are reversed, I am 72.
I enjoy a wonderful sober life with the ups and downs of living, as experienced like everyone else. This lifestyle is contingent on being vigilant, active and never taking my freedom from alcohol for granted. Complacency is not an option for me. I love being restored to a fulfilling lifestyle and plan to live every minute of whatever remains (I hope forever) as a recovery advocate.
Who benefits from the blatant flouting of alcohol advertising laws?- we definitely know who pays
Sadly, alcohol advertising adopts a shotgun approach – totally indiscriminate. It doesn’t really care about the 500,000 people who consume their products in an unsafe manner every week. Not to mention the damage to the army of underage drinkers and the estimated 100,000 who suffer from alcohol use disorder or are alcohol dependent. Long suffering family members, friends and employers are tossed aside like confetti at a wedding, simply collateral damage in the race for ever increasing super-normal profits.
A quick review of the supply side of the alcohol industry suggests these super-normal profits and dividends going into the pockets of the shareholders. Over 60,000 young people become new customers here every year and shows no sign of a decline. I don’t see any commercial need for advertising / promotional campaigns. All promotional activity is in my view unnecessary, irresponsible and only serves those who benefit. Alcohol is no ordinary commodity even though the industry pretends otherwise.
0.0 beverages should have a health warning
I am old enough to remember the last 0.0 branded product, Kaliber. I wonder why that brand failed and was it more to do with the brand name as it didn’t carry the marketing might and muscle that Guinness and Heineken carry today. My dormant alcoholic mind can tell me about the “buzz” I will experience again if I take just one alcoholic drink… you see, 0.0 is no use to us alcoholics. We see plenty of anecdotal evidence that in the hands of alcoholics 0.0 leads to a rapid return to full on addiction. Active alcoholism dictates that those who suffer from this condition need and want this buzz.
Having to deal with all the alcohol industry throws my way every day, promising me a life beyond my wildest dreams if I consume their products, is definitely challenging. Even with their “drink responsibly” get out of jail card! But once an alcoholic always an alcoholic. As for the 20,000 (estimated) people like me in long term recovery, the unintended consequences of alcohol advertising has never been researched. But we do know that many of our number don’t make it to the finishing line of being happy, joyous and free of alcohol at the end of our lives.
If you have been affected by issues raised in this article, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org