50% of all people seen in A + E Departments in the evenings and at weekends are there as a result of something to do with alcohol or drugs.
20% of all suicides are in people with alcohol problems.
10% of all post-mortem examinations show significant liver damage due to alcohol.
85% of episodes of domestic violence are alcohol related.
10 – 15% of the total population have addiction problems of one kind or another.
The Registrar General’s statistics show that we spend more on alcohol, nicotine and gambling than we do on housing.
Behind all the major killing diseases are addiction problems:
Cancer: nicotine addiction + alcohol
Diabetes: sugar and refined (white) flour – the ‘drugs’ of eating disorders.
Heart disease: nicotine, alcohol, sugar and drugs (especially cocaine).
Liver disease: alcohol, sugar, drugs.
Suicide: any addiction.The human and financial costs are vast. Set against that, the costs of appropriate identification and treatment are relatively inexpensive.
We tend to believe in treatment with love, education and punishment. This doesn’t work, other than:
Education on addictive disease and recovery.
Punishment that the addicts give themselves if we let them take the full consequences of their behaviour.
An addictive tendency runs in families and may be genetically inherited – due to a defect in the neuro-transmission systems in the mood centres if the brain. This leads to an inexplicable sense of inner emptiness. That in turn is temporarily relieved by use of mood-altering substances and behaviours.
The causes of addiction are:
Contributory: emotional trauma.
Precipitant: exposure to mood-altering substances of processes.
Treatment is in the reverse order:
Anonymous Fellowships eg AA.
- going to meetings counters the psychopathology of denial.
- working the Twelve Steps (reaching out to help others anonymously) counters the inner emptiness. This has to be continued for life because the addictive tendency is also for life.
Abstinence is merely the beginning – and it must include all mood-altering substances such as prescription drugs (antidepressants, sleeping tablets and tranquillizers). Pain-killers should be used only when vital.
Addictive tendencies come in clusters (with each probably being mediated by one gene).
Hedonistic: alcohol, recreational drugs, prescription drugs, nicotine, caffeine, gambling and risk-taking, sex and love addiction.)
Nurturant of self: sugar and white flour, shopping, spending, work and exercise.
Relationships: relationship addiction (using other people as if they were drugs) and compulsive helping (using oneself as a drug for other people).
Any outlet in any one of these clusters indicates that there is a tendency towards addiction to any of the others.
The Department of Health and The Home Office tend to tackle the supply side of addictive substances and processes. This stigmatises the whole population whereas we should tackle the demand side: identify (through The Lefever Questionnaires that look specifically at addictive characteristics) those who have an addictive nature. We all have our own personalities.
The major killing ‘drugs’ in the UK are:
Nicotine – 300 deaths a day.
Sugar – 200 deaths a day.
Alcohol – 100 deaths a day.
All the illegal drugs combined kill 15 people a day. Full legalisation of all drugs would cause a catastrophic increase in deaths. Decriminalisation would channel addicts towards appropriate treatment by seeing addiction as an illness. Keeping these substances illegal would enable the courts to mandate treatment.
The law is inconsistent in treating the most damaging substances as being legal. We have to concentrate on identifying and treating the addicts, rather than simply making laws about substances.
10% of the population in England drink 50% of the alcohol consumed.
5% of the population in Scotland drink 50% of the alcohol consumed. The difference is because 30% of the population in Scotland are Presbyterians and are abstinent.
Twice as many people are killed on the roads when they are walking home from the pub as are killed when drunk-driving. The slogan should be “Don’t drink and walk”.