There’s a joke about an alcoholic who read about the evils of drinking. It affected him so much he gave up reading.
The fact we can find humour in something that has caused so much pain in our society and has cost untold dollars of public money hints at the tricky nature of our relationship with alcohol.
On the one hand, we have B.C. recently becoming the first province in Canada to task doctors with treating alcohol addiction as a chronic medical condition.
The move pays for doctors to take extra time to root out the reasons behind someone’s problem drinking before their condition worsens.
The hope is that doing so will lessen the billions of dollars that alcohol currently costs B.C.’s health care system.
However, as found out from our recent series of stories on alcohol (check out our website if you missed the print articles), there are also benefits to be had from booze, not the least of which is the billions in revenue generated by liquor sales.
And with evidence suggesting our smartest people are drawn to drink, there is little prospect of trying to regulate how much people consume.
Alcohol is woven into the fabric of our society but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to ease its harm. What we need to do, as individuals and through our governments, is make sure the culture of drinking and how it’s shared between generations is brought out from the shadows.
British Columbia’s decision to effectively side with those who want alcoholism listed as a disease is a good start.
By recognizing that there are no simple solutions for the bigger problem – but that there are remedies on an individual scale – we can begin to address the burden that excessive and inappropriate drinking places on all our lives.